This article discusses experimental studies of facial imitation in infants in the light of Sartre's and Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological theories of embodiment. I argue that both Sartre's account of the gaze of the other and Merleau-Ponty's account of the reversibility of the flesh provide a fertile ground for interpreting the data demonstrating that very young infants can imitate facial expressions of adults. Sartre's and Merleau-Ponty's accounts of embodiment offer, in my view, a desirable alternative to the dominant mentalistic interpretation of facial imitation in terms of the theory of mind.
When remembering the past, the past appears as my own. After all, I cannot properly speaking recollect any other past than the one that I have lived, even though I can remember events from the historical past and from personal histories recounted to me by others. Authentic recollection occurs necessarily in the first person, i.e. I remember myself in given situations, circumstances and places. Recollection is therefore a cogito experience par excellence, despite the fact that I may have become estranged from my past engagements, emotional attachments or culinary preferences. The difference between myself in the past and myself in the present does not put the underlying identity of one life into question. Memory affirms my personal identity, despite the temporal difference and in that difference, it appears therefore as a privileged context for inquiry into subjective life and possibly even as the ground for upholding the contested notion of “the subject.”1 No wonder then that the way philosophers theorize memory is indicative of their conception of subjectivity as a whole. In what follows, I turn to Sartre and to Husserl with the aim of unveiling how their accounts of recollection resolve the question of identity and difference within the temporality of a subjective life. Tracing Sartre’s arguments against Husserl’s, as well as Husserl’s and Sartre’s own presentations of recollection, I inquire into the reasons that incited them to bring either the aspect of sameness or otherness at the heart of subjective life into view.
Derek K. Heyman, Beata Stawarska, Thomas R. Flynn, and David Detmer
Steven Laycock, Nothingness and Emptiness: A Buddhist Engagement with the Ontology of Jean-Paul Sartre. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001), 240pp. ISBN 0791449106, $21.95 (paper). Review by Derek K. Heyman
Stephen Priest, The Subject in Question: Sartre’s Critique of Husserl in the Transcendence of the Ego. New York: Routledge, 2000, 192 pp. ISBN 041521369X, $105. Review by Beata Stawarska
Ronald Aronson, Camus and Sartre: The Story of Friendship and the Quarrel that Ended It. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004, 248 pp. ISBN 0226027691, $32.50. Review by Thomas R. Flynn
Ronald E. Santoni, Sartre on Violence: Curiously Ambivalent. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003, 179pp. ISBN 0-271-02300-7, $35.00. Review by David Detmer