Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 3 of 3 items for

  • Author: Colin Davis x
  • Refine by Access: All content x
  • Refine by Content Type: All x
Clear All Modify Search
Restricted access

Historical Reason and Autobiographical Folly in Sartre and Althusser

Colin Davis

‘What can one know about a man, today?’ When Sartre poses this question on the opening page of the first volume of L’Idiot de la famille, he encapsulates a huge project with teasing casualness. He brings together two of the four fundamental questions of philosophy formulated by Kant, ‘What can I know’ and ‘What is the human being’; and whilst the final word, today, indicates that our knowledge of others is bound to our own historical moment, for Sartre understanding others also necessarily entails attempting to under- stand their relation to history.

Restricted access

Sartre and the Return of the Living Dead

Colin Davis

The dead will remain with us, Sartre remarks at the end of Les Mots, for as long as humanity roams the earth. The dead are never quite dead; they survive in what Sartre, in L'Etre et le néant, calls 'la vie morte' (dead life). In Huis clos, Sartre envisages an afterlife in which, although they can no longer act, the dead continue to agonize over the meaning of their lives and their now irrevocable actions. Sartre's script of Les Jeux sont faits, filmed by Jean Delannoy and shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 1947, goes a step further. It depicts two dead people given the chance to return to earth in the pursuit of love and, at the same time, the opportunity to rectify their earlier mistakes, to change the meaning of their lives by intervening more effectively in their worlds. Despite its supernatural story line, the stakes of Les Jeux sont faits are recognizably Sartrean. The film serves as an opportunity to probe the themes of freedom, responsibility, choice, the role of the individual agent in history, the self's opacity to itself, the conflict endemic in the human condition and the ways in which external circumstances make a mockery of our endeavours. It asks the question, if we were given a second chance, could we revisit the scenes of our failures and transform them into successes? Could we learn from our mistakes and lucidly remodel the world in the form of our desires? Or are we condemned only to fail again, to make the same mistakes twice over?

Restricted access

Ethics, Fiction, and the Death of the Other: Sartre's 'Le Mur'

Colin Davis

Philosophers, especially moral philosophers, repeatedly turn to examples to show their principles in action, or to put them to the test, or to refine them. But examples are also a distrusted resource; narrative (even a minimal narrative such as a philosophical example) may have a semantic waywardness which makes it an uncertain ally in philosophical discussion. What is at stake here is the extent to which stories can be contained within clearly delineated conceptual frames. To put it bluntly,