The story of a young man from the Western Indian Ocean island of Mayotte who was prevented from a career in the French army by an illness sent by a spirit who possesses his mother inspires reﬂection on the nature of agency. I suggest that spirit possession and the ill- nesses it produces are intrinsically ironic. The prevalence of irony implies not that we should disregard agency but that perhaps we should not take it too literally.
Questions of Agency and Self-deception as Refracted through the Art of Living with Spirits
Some Observations on Motives, Strategies, and Their Consequences on the Reconfigurations of State and Media
Audrey Laurin-Lamothe and Michel Ratte
The first part of this article reports the main events of the 2012 student protest in Quebec leading to the government’s adoption of Bill 12. It highlights the major ideological conflict generated through the liberal managerial mutation of the academic institutions as a key to understand more clearly the student’s claims. Rapidly, the standard strike was transformed into a massive mobilization that produced many protests and other forms of resistance. The response given by the government to these unprecedented acts of resistance was Bill 12, to be understood as a symbolic coup d’état with voluntarily disruptive media effects whose aim was to make people forget the massive rejection of a pseudo tentative agreement in relation to Higher Education reform. The bill was also supported through the abusive and twisted use by the government of a series of buzzwords, like “bullying” and “access to education”, which were relayed by the media. The authors also discuss the issues surrounding the traditional conceptions regarding the analysis of discourses, mobilizing Orwell’s concept of doublethink and the notion of selfdeception inherited form Sartre.
Exactly what does Jean-Paul Sartre mean when he describes some conscious awareness as ‘non-thetic’? He does not explicitly say. Yet this phrase, sprinkled liberally throughout his early philosophical works, is germane to some of the distinctive and fundamental theories of Sartrean existentialism. My aim in this paper is to examine the concept in terms of the role that Sartre claims it plays in bad faith (mauvaise foi), the deliberate and motivated project of refusing to face or consider the consequences of some fact or facts. I will argue that non-thetic awareness could play the role Sartre ascribes to it in bad faith only if it is understood as being equivalent to the nonconceptual representational content currently discussed in anglophone philosophy of mind. I will proceed by first providing an initial rough characterisation of ‘non-thetic’ awareness through a discussion of the philosophical background to Sartre’s term, then showing how this rough characterisation needs to be refined in order that bad faith may evade the two paradoxes of self-deception, next drawing the distinction between conceptual and nonconceptual content, and then arguing that non-thetic awareness must be construed as nonconceptual content. This clarification of one of the most pervasive and one of the most obscure concepts in Sartrean existentialism will have the additional ramifications that Sartre’s theory of consciousness in general must be understood as involving both conceptual and nonconceptual structures and that his discussion of the interplay of these structures can provide innovative and valuable contributions to the debates over the role of conceptual and nonconceptual contents in perception and action currently raging in anglophone discussions of mind.