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.
Matthew C. Ally
The Dialectical Tradition in South Africa by Andrew Nash
Sketch of a Materialist Ethics
Translator : Marieke Mueller and Kate Kirkpatrick
of thought (i.e. as practice of philosophy, in both respects of the genitive) is at the heart of Sartre’s writing in the 1960s and is very much crystallised in the production of the Critique of Dialectical Reason . 2 The act of putting reason to
Jennifer Ang Mei Sze
Sartrean ontological intersubjectivity is often understood to be hostile and conflictive, and Sartrean dialectics is repeatedly interpreted through the lenses of the Hegelian master-slave dyad, translating into a conflictive theory of practical ensembles. Building on this, critics in the aftermath of 9/11 argued that 'terror' and 'revolutionary violence' introduced in Critique of Dialectical Reason as the anti-thesis of oppression underscored his anti-colonial writings and this gives us justification to think that Sartre might consider terrorism a form of revolutionary violence.
With this in mind, this paper does not deal with the bigger issue of Sartre's political position, but only aims to question the basis of reading Hegelian dialectics in Sartre's ontology of intersubjectivity and social ensembles. Revisiting the role of dialectics in his Search for a Method and Critique of Dialectical Reason, it reveals a Sartre who is critical of Hegelian dialectics, and establishes his intersubjectivity as more compatible with Heidegger's being-with-others rather than Hegel's being-for-others.
William L. Remley
In a little remembered event in December 1961, Sartre entered into a debate with Roger Garaudy, as well as other representatives of the Parti Communiste Française (PCF), on the topic of the existence of a universal dialectical law applicable to nature as well as to human thought. In the debate, Sartre seeks to rebut the notion that humankind is merely an “alien addition“ to nature, as Engels maintained, and instead argues that individual subjectivity cannot be reduced to an object of knowledge. This paper highlights the importance of the debate for both sides, but particularly for Sartre and his Critique of Dialectical Reason.
Thomas R. Flynn
“Dialectical” stands in parentheses because I wish to discuss both authors in terms of a critique of reason as such in addition to specifying the issue in terms of their respective assessments of the dialectic. But I shall first consider how each employs the term “critique.” So my remarks will focus on Critique, Reason and Dialectic in that order. Of course, each topic understandably bleeds into the others. In view of the occasion, I shall conclude with a brief sketch of four milestones along Sartre's way from Being and Nothingness to the Critique.
Joyce Marie Mushaben
Germans have now been unified for thirty years, longer than they had been separated by concrete barriers, yet the Wall in their respective heads has persisted. Unequal wages, a lack of investment in structurally weak regions, and ongoing western elite domination continue to fuel Eastern perceptions of second-class citizenship, despite significant shifts in the fates of key social groups who initially saw themselves as the “winners” and losers” of unification. This article considers the dialectical identities of four groups whose collective opportunity structures have been dramatically reconfigured since 1990: eastern intellectuals and dissidents; working women and mothers; eastern youth; and middle-aged men. It argues that the two groups counted among the immediate winners of unification—dissidents and men—have traded places over the last three decades with the two strata counted among unity’s core losers, women and youth. It also testifies to fundamental, albeit rarely noted changes that have taken hold with regard to the identities of western Germans across thirty years of unification.
Sartre’s second volume of the Critique of Dialectical Reason1 presents us with an important irony: of all the phenomena of the twentieth century that demand a moral judgement, Stalinism must be near the top of the list – yet such judgement is hard to find in Sartre’s Critique. Part of my task in the following will be to explain this. It is not that moral judgement is wholly absent: Sartre describes the theory and practice of ‘Socialism in One Country’ as a ‘monstrosity’ [CDR2:103] characterised by ‘its uncouth, misguided crudity’ [CDR2:111], and he has no trouble with peremptorily asserting that the Russian Revolution’s good fortune at being pushed through by the ‘Man of Steel’ was matched on the debit side by Stalin’s ‘universal incompetence’ and his ‘dogmatic crudeness’ [CDR2:205].
Joseph S. Catalano
My goal in writing this article is to give a brief overview of the two volumes of Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason. After a brief introduction, I proceed in three stages that move from the abstract to the concrete. I thus trace the development of such notions as comprehension into the dialectic, praxis into singularity and incarnation, the practico-inert into the totalization-of-envelopment, and the enhancement of the notion of scarcity as a general historical condition into a collective free choice. I also suggest new divisions for Critique II.
What is counter-finality? Who, or what, is the agent of counter-finality? In the Critique of Dialectical Reason, Sartre employs a complicated and multivalent notion of counter-finality, the reversal of the finality intended by an agent in different contexts and at different levels of complexity. Sartre's concept of counter-finality is read here as an attempt to rethink and broaden the traditional Marxist notion of commodity fetishism as a tragic dialectic of human history whose final act has yet to play out. The article analyses and explicates Sartre's complex concept of counter-finality, focusing on material antipraxis.