J.G. Ballard's early novels The Drowned World (1962) and The Crystal World (1966) take a climatological approach to apocalyptic dystopia. This has led survey studies of climate fiction to identify these novels as founding texts of the genre. Yet Ballard wrote in an era before global warming had been identified by climate scientists, and his fiction is as much psychological and ontological as it is physiological. Ballard both adheres to and deviates from the global warming narrative now accepted by contemporary climatology, working within and beyond the SF subgenre of post-apocalyptic fiction. This paper assesses the extent to which these dystopian narratives can be understood as climate fiction and explores the debt that more recent cli-fi may owe to Ballard.
Matthew C. Ally
This essay revisits the question of Sartre's method with particular emphasis on the posthumously published Notebooks for an Ethics, Critique of Dialectical Reason (Volume II), and “Morale et histoire.” I argue that Sartre's method—an ever-evolving though never seamless blend of phenomenological description, dialectical analysis, and logical inference—is at once the seed and fruit of his mature ontology of praxis. Free organic praxis, what Sartre more than once calls “the human act,” is neither closed nor integral, but is rather intrinsically open-ended and integrative. Thus a philosophical method that seeks at once to illuminate human experience and human history must itself be both a reflection and inflection of the essential openness and integrativity of praxis itself. In the conclusion, I argue that the openness and integrativity of Sartre's method are its core strengths and the sources of its continued philosophical worth.
John G. Wilson
Recently, social-media tools have been widely credited with igniting pervasive social upheavals in the Middle East, some of which brought down governments. This article explores the putative structure of such gatherings and considers new developments in what such collectives might be from a Sartrean perspective, in particular as mediated by the arrival of social media. A Sartrean perspective on the still indefinite composition of media collectives is offered under Sartre's concept of the groupe en fusion, yet still open to discussion under his concept of individual free choice. Throughout, the chimerical presence of the We-subject, as an ontologically suspect entity arises, in particular when reification is attempted by socialmedia users living under illiberal political regimes. The situation of dissident women in the Middle East is often referred to.
Noel N. Sauer
Sartre’s theory of mental imagery is often criticized for succumbing to the very “illusion of immanence” that he decries in both The Imagination and The Imaginary. I challenge Edward S. Casey’s defense of this criticism in light of Cam Clayton’s recent effort to do the same. Clayton tries to meet Casey’s arguments by focusing on what he, Clayton, believes to be Sartre’s development of the role and ontological status of the “psychical analogon” in his theory of mental imagery. I argue against Clayton’s account of the psychical analogon, showing how both he and Casey miss what for Sartre is its essential role and positive status as bodily movement. Thus Sartre adequately provides for the materiality, or positivity, of the psychical analogon, and a closer look at Sartre’s arguments about bodily movement and mental imagery—not Clayton’s interpretation— meets Casey’s objections and dispels Sartre’s theory of the alleged illusion.
Drawing on Sartre’s account of violence, I argue that not only is bad faith inevitable in practice, but a limited bad faith is necessary for authenticity. Although violating the freedom of others is bad faith, it is impossible to never violate anyone’s freedom. Moreover, and more fundamentally, the ontological structure of the for-itself entails that the for-itself can only be authentic in the mode of not being authentic. Seeking to altogether avoid bad faith is bad faith, for it is an attempt to constitute oneself as essentially authentic, yet the for-itself has no preexisting essence. By recognizing one’s complete responsibility for choosing bad faith, however, one limits one’s bad faith. This limited bad faith is in fact necessary to authenticity, which is a project lived out in concrete situations and not a categorical moral law that forbids bad faith.
Analytic and Sartrean Phenomenological Perspectives
John Graham Wilson
This article draws parallels between analytical and continental approaches to ontology. It begins with a summary of nothingness from the standpoint of analytical philosophy. It then expands towards the Sartrean notion of nothingness and our own experiential intuitions of absence, extending then into what is missing in our lives as existentially distressing; concerning, in this instance, what is missing through the protracted absence of a dead loved one. Finally, disturbing and possibly traumatic encounters with absence are seen to have major consequences for our existential sense of being-in-the- world, where the for-itself manifests as a being of lacks, often eschewing thetic knowledge, where encounters through human consciousness may anticipate pathological withdrawal from the world. This is a situation that Anglo-American proponents of logico-linguistic analysis cannot adequately account for.
Beauvoir, Sartre and Levinas on the Ageing Body
Kathleen Lennon and Anthony Wilde
In this article, we explore Beauvoir’s account of what she claims is an alienated relation to our ageing bodies. This body can inhibit an active engagement with the world, which marks our humanity. Her claims rest on the binary between the body-for-itself and the body-in-itself. She shares this binary with Sartre, but a perceptive phenomenology of the affective body can also be found, which works against this binary and allows her thought to be brought into conversation with Levinas. For Levinas, the susceptibility of the body is constitutive of our subjectivity, rather than a source of alienation. If we develop Beauvoir’s thought in the direction of his, an ontological structure is suggested, distinct from Sartre – a structure which makes room for her pervasive attention to affectivity.
Rivca Gordon and Haim Gordon
Modern schools have been criticised by throngs of intellectuals, quite often with justice. Adding the prefix post-modern to some schools has done nothing to temper the validity of much of the criticism. Critics of schools have addressed, among other topics, low learning achievement of pupils and an insipid milieu, a debilitating school social structure and the spread of vile and, at times, criminal behaviour among pupils, a dire lack of genuine spirituality and the spread of a congealing stupidity. Quite a few critics have also discussed a host of rather irrelevant psychological, sociological, and anthropological issues related to schooling. Yet almost all of this criticism has not addressed the ontology of modern schools; nor has it considered the ontic developments that appeared with the burgeoning of schooling.
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
The Human Body as Raw Material
This article investigates the varied reactions of audiences to cinematic depictions of the human body as objectified raw material. The investigation proceeds, first, by explicating an ontological distinction between being-in-itself and being-for-itself, which in turn allows for a clarification of the processes involved in the objectification of one human being by another. The article then argues that in films where depictions of bodily objectification are pushed to an extreme—such as The Human Centipede, Nymphomaniac, and Videodrome—a potentially positive, empathic potential is unlocked in audiences. Rather than simply resulting in the humiliation of human characters, such films encourage audiences to experience a kind of sympathy for the characters that is related to, but not distinct from, other horrific, humorous, and erotic feelings. The article concludes that the objectification of human bodies in film is both unavoidable and a potentially positive moral exercise.