As Paul Ricœur notes in L’Idéologie et l’utopie, the ascription of the characteristic of being ‘ideological’ to a set of ideas has traditionally had pejorative implications. One’s own ideas are not ideological, only those of one’s adversaries.1 The philosophical and critical writings of the early Sartre do not offer an explicit discussion of the concept of ideology. Even in Cahiers pour une morale, notable for the evidence they provide of Sartre’s increasing rapprochement with Marxism, ideology per se is never Sartre’s centre of interest.
Margaret A. Majumdar
Writing in 1966, Roger Garaudy saw Althusser and Sartre occupying the two poles of contemporary French Marxist thought.1 While no-one would deny their fundamental difference in approach, the fact remains that both were participants in the same project – the modernisation of Marxism in the light of theoretical and political problems which had affected its development, with the aim of achieving an autonomous space for the intellectual to engage with Marxist theory and the practice of the working-class struggle. Both were primarily intellectuals; both were capable of intransigence
, Marxist, and so on. But the Other also has certain normative and ideological frames of reference, which may violently conflict with and negate our own way of being-in-the-world, as demonstrated, for example, in the Paris terror attacks of November 2015
It is said that Sartre maintained a certain opposition to post-structuralism, for which his focus on a dialectical understanding of historical praxis is considered evidence. Yet he rarely discussed post-structuralism, nor engaged it in debate; which is odd, since it formed part of his philosophical milieu. After all, he took on Marxism and Christianity. But to debate post-structuralism would mean addressing its view of the world, thereby assuming it actually had one. Perhaps he saw that to address it as an ideology, a view of the world, rather than a critique of discursivity itself, would be to transform it into what it was not, against itself.
Sartre's thoughts on the eighteenth century are ambiguous and schematic at best but they do contain an interesting analysis of materialism that continues from this period through to the early 1940s. Even though Sartre refers to the eighteenth-century as a paradise soon-to-be lost, it is argued here that his condemnation of atomistic materialism as it was conceived during this period is directly linked to his rejection of the dialectical materialism of the Communist Party and bourgeois ideology. This article examines the relationship between these different modes of thought and seeks to demonstrate how Sartre's take on the eighteenth century provided a stern warning to the communists about the pitfalls associated with basing a revolution on materialist doctrine.
This article brings together the Sartrean concept of bad faith and Edward Upward's novel, Journey to the Border, first published in 1938. The aim is to provide an overtly political reading that challenges the surreal obscurity of Upward's psychological narrative, while at the same time showing the continuing relevance of Sartre's understanding of the psychological tensions and existential dilemmas of the modern condition. Upward's novel has been the focus of much critical debate as to the meaning of the story - the descent of the main character towards madness in the context of the 1930s threat of fascism and war - as well as the generic characterisation of the text in terms of satire, fable, fantasy or political parable. The article argues in contrast a more unequivocally ideological reading of the series of existential choices, both personal and political, of the main character as a struggle for individual freedom and authenticity through a radical commitment to socialism and responsibility for the Other.
To talk about Sartre and literature in the 1960s is to talk about a range of disparate things: at the beginning of the decade stands the farewell to Literature, the myth of literature, enshrined in the autobiographical Les Mots. At the end is the critical dissection of the myth of literature as an absolute in the third volume of L’Idiot de la famille, in a farewell of another kind. As far as Sartre is concerned, then, this was a decade framed by highly public, but also highly ambiguous, statements about literature, ambiguous by their very literariness. Statements which are undoubtedly intensified by the ideological role of literature in the constitution of the figure of the intellectual.
This overview of Sartre's theater within the context of the symposium focuses on the inherent ambiguities of his theory and practice. His plays, as committed literature, are not always successful in their pedagogical intention of changing the minds of his audiences. On the one hand, he seeks to provide universal situations with which everyone can collectively identify, and on the other he wishes to convince them of the value of freedom and confront them with problems and conflicts they must resolve for themselves. These spectators then exercise that freedom by taking ideological viewpoints that are in conflict with those of the plays. Moreover, the plays are often complex and ambiguous, and set far from a contemporary French context, thus demanding a certain sophistication of interpretation. Sartre's skill as a dramatist is to write plays that engage the public in debates about the key questions of the day, even though, because of his open approach, he does not always succeed in changing their minds.
In the first part of this essay, in order to grasp the complex and ambivalent relation of Fanon with negritude, I will recover the context from which emerged the ideology of negritude by focusing on the views of Léopold Senghor and the ways in which these views determined Sartre's interpretation of the movement. I will also examine Sartre's Black Orpheus and the influence it had on Fanon, especially on his Black Skin, White Masks. In the second part, I will adumbrate Fanon's critique of the advocates of negritude, whom he refers to as 'men of culture', who fell back on archaic cultural practices far removed from the political realities of their colonized societies. In the third section, I will turn to Memmi's critique of Fanon with a view to establishing two points: first, Memmi misreads Fanon's rejection of negritude as a failure on the part of Fanon to 'return to self'; second, far from being an oppositional post-modern figure whose work is rife with contradiction, I will argue that the political project of Fanon is consistently Sartrean, despite his disagreement with Sartre on some issues.
Sartre's evocation of ideological socialism in Dirty Hands' protagonist Hugo, as opposed to the pragmatism of the realist, Hoederer, found an attentive audience in April 1948. The means are justified by the ends, Hoederer insists, although that means “getting one's hands dirty.“ Eighteen months later, Camus produced Les Justes, which offers an implicit rebuttal of Sartre's position. Kaliayev-like Hugo, an idealist and an intellectual-is rebuked by his hard-line colleague, Fedorov, for failing to throw his grenade at the Archduke's carriage merely because he was accompanied by children. Kaliayev's vindication of the individual's moral conscience, even in the midst of collective action, counters Hoederer's position. For Camus, the ends do not necessarily justify the means; there are always lines to be drawn in the name of an ethical stance which, ultimately, protects human dignity from the allure of morally compromised “progress.“ Consideration of each playwright's notion of authenticity, as embodied in their respective protagonists, leads us to consider whether Sartre had, in effect, anticipated Kaliayev in the person of Hugo and foreshadowed his critique of Camus's L'Homme révolté, which led to their definitive quarrel.