Jean-Paul Sartre's account of the Look in Being and Nothingness is not straightforward and many conflicting interpretations have arisen due to apparent contradictions in Sartre's own writing. The Look, for Sartre, demonstrates how the self gains thematic awareness of the body, forming a public and self-conscious sense of how the body appears to others and, furthermore, illustrates affective and social aspects of embodied being. In this article, I will critically explore Sartre's oft-cited voyeur vignette in order to provide a coherent account of the Look and to illustrate the significance of intersubjectivity and self-consciousness in Sartre's work. Through considering Sartre's voyeur vignette and other examples of reflective self-consciousness, this article will examine epistemological, self-evaluative and ontological concerns in the constitution of reflective self-consciousness. It will be contended that Sartre's accounts of the Look and reflective self-consciousness within social relations can provide insight into the intersubjective nature of the shaping of the body and the significance of self-presentation within the social realm.
Introduction, Translation Notes, and Comments
Ronjon Paul Datta and François Pizarro Noël
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