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Compiled by Anthony Harrison-Barbet


SARTRE

(1905 — 1980)

 

EXISTENTIAL PHENOMENOLOGY

His father having died at an early age, Jean-Paul Sartre was brought up by his grandparents. (Albert Schweitzer was a cousin.) He was educated at the Lycée Henri IV in Paris, the Lycée in La Rochelle, and at the École Normale Supérieure, gaining his agrégation in Philosophy in 1929. He taught philosophy in various schools before becoming a research student (1933-5) in Berlin and at the University of Freiburg. His novel La Nausée was published in 1938. After a short time as a prisoner of war he resumed his teaching career. He was active in the resistance movement while working on L'Étre et le Néant.

 

PSYCHOLOGY/ ONTOLOGY/ KNOWLEDGE

[1] [Being and Nothingness, Introd. III; also The Psychology of the Imagination.] When we perceive objects — trees, clouds, and so on, we are engaging in intentional acts positing these objects as existing in the world. They are not to be regarded as reducible to appearances or sensibilia. Neither are they mental as the 'idealists' maintain, or as 'immanent' (the result of a 'bracketing' procedure). Rather, they are transphenomenal, transcendent. The imagining consciousness is also understood by Sartre as positing objects [a], but he argues that the agent is free to intend its objects in a variety of ways. (a) Certainly actual images may be taken to be the posited objects. But this is the consequence of reflection at a second level, as it were. (b) For the first order imagining consciousness, however, an object is posited which is not the image itself. Sartre thinks of this object as absent but imagined as if it were present. The actual image is then considered as a relation between consciousness and the object. (c) As a further possibility Sartre suggests the imaginary consciousness can posit an object which does not really exist at all — a fictional one, for example; and he refers paradoxically to such non-existent objects as 'negations' of reality but yet as 'existing' . In other words, they are posited as 'unreal' or 'inactive'.

Sartre also developed an original analysis of emotions in terms of intentionality. [See Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions.] He thinks of emotion as a way of apprehending the world whereby significance is projected onto a person or thing [b]. This consciousness of others as possessing certain qualities (which they may not actually possess) constitutes what he calls a "magical world". He sees both this and the exercising of imagination as the agent's manifestation of freedom and as attempts to evade causal determinism.

Implicit in Sartre's account of imagination and emotion is a central distinction between what he called the reflective and the non-reflective consciousness [Being and Nothingness]. This is of particular importance in his analysis of self-consciousness [II, ch. 1; see also On the Transcendence of the Ego]. The positing of actual transphenomenal or transcendental objects is the activity of the pre-reflective consciousness. However, he rejects the notion of a transcendent Ego — as the residuum of intentionality and 'bracketing' [c]. It is nothing more than a "centre of opacity" within consciousness. The pre-reflective consciousness is indeed accompanied by a 'self'-consciousness but this is an awareness by consciousness itself as consciousness: no 'Ego' or 'self' is 'seen' or intuited as being involved. (Sartre talks of such self-consciousness as 'non-thetic', non-positing.) But when we treat this phenomenological perceptual consciousness itself as an intentionally posited object — at the level of reflective consciousness — we must regard this as the manifestation of an Ego, in so far as it arises through the self-reflection of consciousness and thereby objectifies itself. It cannot therefore be regarded as having created that consciousness. It is, however, posited as the unity and source of our experiences and actions, and as such is correlative to the world considered as the posited ideal unity of all the objects of consciousness. And in this correlation the 'gap' between a reflective consciousness and the external world is overcome. His position is thus as follows. The basic pre-reflective consciousness is a transphenomenal, transcendental activity or agency which confers meaning in positing (1) transphenomenal objects, and (2) through its reflection on its own intentional acts posits and 'objectifies' the Ego. But this posited 'Ego' belonging to reflective consciousness is seen to be correlative to the world (as the posited ideal unity of our experiences and actions — the Ego being responsible for the unifying process) [c]. What Sartre seems to mean can be illustrated by an example. When I perceive (or imagine), say, a tree my active 'mind' (as 'pre-reflective' consciousness) 'intends' this as an object. If now this consciousness reflects on its own activity (the act of perceiving) it turns that activity itself into an 'object' (this is the 'Ego' considered as belonging to the 'reflective' consciousness). He then says that the perceived tree (the unified 'object' in my consciousness) and the 'subjective' reflected Ego (that which does the unifying) are inseparable.

[2] The importance of Sartre's subtle analysis of self-consciousness lies in its relevance to the problem of existence. This is best approached through his concept of Being. By 'Being' Sartre means that which is: "Being is in itself, Being is what it is", he writes [BN, Introd. VI]. The concept of Being as the In-itself (l'être en-soi) is arrived at through a process of elimination of attributes or differentiations. When we perceive an object, say, a table we are conscious of it as something to be used for a particular purpose. (We can write on it, chop it up for firewood, and so on.) It has instrumental meaning — a meaning conferred on it by consciousness itself. If we abstract all these instrumental features, what is left is Being-in-itself [a] — contingent, opaque, solid (massif), uncaused. It is in a sense superfluity (de trop). It is characterized just by 'being there'.

What then of the status of consciousness — which Sartre now calls Being-for-itself (l'être pour soi)? [See BN, Pt II.] Consider again our experience of the table. In differentiating the table as a table consciousness introduces a negation (négatité) in so far as the table is identified and differentiated as not being something else (chair, cupboard, etc.). Similarly to say something is near is to say it is not distant; to say it is present is to imply it is not past. Indeed consciousness itself is conceived as separable, distant from being, and as such is not-Being — with nothing between Being and itself. Consciousness is characterized by this activity of nihilation — introducing into Being-in-itself nothingness, a 'hole', non-Being. [On 'negation' and 'nihilation' see BN, Pt I, ch. 1.] The relationship between Being and non-Being is thus not a mere logical one; Being is in a sense already 'in' non-Being, and through the negating capacity of consciousness Being introduces a 'hole' within Being-in-itself and thereby, as it were, instantiates or particularizes not-Being [b] (the table is picked out from the 'other'). Now there would seem to be a paradox here. The being of consciousness (Being-for-itself), whereby nothingness comes into the world, must be its own non-being or nothingness. Arguably this can be resolved by saying that for Sartre consciousness is Being-for-itself as intentional activity, yet it is not-Being in so far as it is not Being-in-itself.

As for the object, it is now neither an in-itself (because it is differentiated, defined) nor a for-itself (which characterizes consciousness). How can this be? To deal with this Sartre extends his dialectic by a further negation [Pt II, 3, V]. The For-itself negates itself. As a result the object ceases to belong (immanently) to the For-itself but is 'affirmed' by it; and the For-itself becomes the affirmation of the In-itself. "It is the 'adventure' of the In-itself to be affirmed." Correspondingly the For-itself, as it were, tends to 'lose' itself in becoming the affirmation of the In-itself. From the point of view of knowledge, the first negation may be taken to be an idealist position: the differentiated object exists in or for the conscious subject; "Knowledge is nothing other than the presence of Being to the For-itself". However, through the "radical reversal" brought about by the second negation "knowledge is reabsorbed in Being"there is only being, Sartre says. Knowledge is thus to be understood as a mode of Being — in terms of the relationship between the For-itself and the In-itself. At the same time there is an 'existential' aspect, in that it is "an absolute and primitive event" — "the absolute upsurge" of the For-itself [c], which is not only the "absolute event" of the For-itself but is also something which happens to the In-itself. As he says, "the For-itself by its self-negation becomes the affirmation of the In-itself" [ibid.].

[3] There are two features of Being-for-itself which relate to his central claim that "existence is prior to essence". Firstly, the mode of being peculiar to being-for-itself is the activity of temporality: past, present and future are internal structures of conscious being. This enables consciousness to transcend itself and to introduce negation into the world. What we are now is the consequence of our making ourselves, and in so doing Being-for-itself separates itself from and negates what it has made of itself in the past — which becomes Being-in-itself, that is, essence. As Being-for-itself it remains transcendent, 'ahead of itself' as past, and herein lies its existence. As existence consciousness is thus undetermined by the past; it is continuously making itself. (This is characterized most starkly in death when our existence ceases.) Secondly, consciousness is also characterized by its freedom: "we are necessarily free". Thus for Sartre [Existentialism is a Humanism]: "Man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world, and defines himself afterwards." "Man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself." It is clear that this is the logical consequence of his view that man does not have a 'human nature'. People who think there is a God usually think of him/it as a 'supernal artisan' who holds in his mind a universal conception of Man, each individual man being a particular realization of this universal. But for Sartre there is no God and therefore no human nature [a]. Even those atheist thinkers who adhere to the notion of human nature common to all men assume that an essence precedes that "historic existence which we confront in experience".

God as conventionally understood (in, say, the Christian tradition) is the ultimate being, eternal, transcendent, uncaused, omniscient, omnipotent, and self-conscious — "all positivity and the foundation of the world", as Sartre puts it [BN, Pt II, ch. 1, III]. But according to him there is an inherent self-contradiction in this concept of God. Human reality, coming into existence, grasps itself as an incomplete being. By virtue of this lack it reaches towards being which defines man's lack or imperfection — "the being which is the foundation of its own nothingness (that is, the pour-soi) surpasses itself toward the being which is the foundation of its being (the en-soi)" [ibid.]. However, this being-in-itself cannot be a transcendent God. If it were the pure in-itself it would coincide with the annihilation of consciousness. Put simply, if God were self-conscious, there would be 'distancing' between consciousness and being-in-itself. Such a being would not be presence-to-itself but identity-with-itself; and such a self, Sartre says, can exist only as a "perpetually evanescent relation". In short, Sartre's view is that God considered as the totality which reveals the lack of human totality combines in itself incompatible characteristics of the in-itself and the for-itself [b].

[4] Now what of the 'Other'? On this issue Sartre is not a sceptic. He claims that the intentionality of being-for-itself can establish the existence of other minds. But it is not through an appeal to any argument by analogy that this is to be achieved. Rather, he invokes the notion of intersubjectivity [a]. In Existentialism is a Humanism he argues that when we say 'I think' we are just as certain of the other as we are of ourselves: in discovering ourselves in the cogito we also discover all the others, and as a condition of our own existence". In Being and Nothingness [Pt III, ch. 1, IV] he relates this to our experiences of our own feelings. Suppose I am looking through a keyhole. I am totally unaware of myself. This is the state of pre-reflective consciousness. If I now become aware that I am being observed by somebody, I experience shame (or guilt, embarrassment — depending on circumstances), and I thereby become aware of myself as an object — of someone else's consciousness as subject. In reflective consciousness my 'cogito' manifests itself. The look (regard) of the Other (autrui) makes one his object. The presence of the Other is thus a precondition for my recognising myself as an object for that Other. Now Sartre recognises there is a conflict here between the individual's intuition of himself as totally free (in the sense of being able to choose to 'make himself', to fill the 'gap' between the en-soi and the pour-soi) and his recognition of himself as an 'object' for the 'Other'. His initial solution is to seek to restore his freedom by in turn 'possessing' the Other. To illustrate this he examines the relationship between two lovers considered psychologically [BN, Pt III, 3]. He has to concede, however, that though his freedom be reaffirmed the fundamental conflict between the self and the other can never be terminated [b]. In seeking to appropriate the freedom of his beloved the lover will treat her either as an automaton or as a being whose love for him is the consequence of free commitment. Both alternatives, Sartre says, are unsatisfactory. Clearly the lover does not wish to be loved by a person whom he has enslaved. Neither does he wish to be loved by someone who does not desire him for himself but because of her "pure loyalty to a sworn oath". If he adopts the first alternative, it will lead to sadism. If he adopts the second and allow himself to become an 'object' for the beloved, this will result in masochism. But in both cases his freedom is affirmed; and if he does become 'being-for-the-other', this will give rise to the further problem of frustration in so far as by virtue of his free choice he cannot in fact be just an object. He could of course remain indifferent to the beloved, observing her behaviour without involvement. But from the point of view of the relationship this would be equally unsatisfactory.

It might seem from this account that for Sartre freedom is equivalent to indeterminacy and is therefore arbitrary; so he would appear to be advocating a policy of commitment without motive. However, this is not Sartre's view. He argues [BN, Pt IV, 1] that conscious being is able to conceive of an as yet non-existent future. As we have seen, through the intentionality of being-for-itself, the world, that is, being-in-itself, is 'negated' or 'set-off' from it. The individual's awareness of the need to eliminate this 'nothingness' or non-being, that is, to fill the 'gap', itself constitutes the motive for action [c]. Sartre makes it clear that it is not a 'factual state' (the political and economic structure of society, one's psychological condition, etc.) that can be a motive (motif) but the recognition that the state of affairs must be changed. "The motive [mobile] is understood only by the end; that is, by the non-existent" [ibid.].

 

ETHICS

[5] [Existentialism and Humanism.] In so far as, for Sartre, man is nothing else but what he makes of himself his philosophy can be called 'subjectivist'. Sartre understands this to mean the individual subject is totally free and that this is definitive — man cannot be unfree. It follows from this that the entire responsibility for our existence is placed directly upon our own shoulders, and further that when we make a choice between one course of action and another we thereby affirm the value of that which is chosen. This latter claim is central to Sartre's ethics. He rejects as inauthentic actions which are undertaken in accordance with systems of externally imposed values. To act is to endow our actions with value. To act in accordance with the dictates of a God, the doctrines of Christianity, or the principles of philosophical systems is to be guilty of 'bad faith (mauvaise foi) or 'self-deception' [a]. [On 'bad faith' see also BN, Pt I, ch. 2.] In other words, to refuse to face up to what Sartre calls 'abandonment' (that is deciding one's being for oneself), to shy away from one's total responsibility for one's actions, to hide behind externally defined values, or to invent some deterministic doctrine, is to deny that freedom which is the very definition and condition of man: "Man is free, man is freedom". Sartre illustrates his doctrine [EH] by telling the story of one of his pupils who (in 1940) cannot make up his mind whether he should go to England to fight for the Free French or should stay at home to look after his mother While conventionally there are standards or criteria he might appeal to, in the last analysis it is in his actual choice that he, as it were, gives his action value. Only thus can his choice be authentic. Furthermore, when we make a decision and choose a course of action, says Sartre, we commit not only ourselves but humanity as a whole. In legislating for the whole of mankind the individual man cannot escape from a sense of complete responsibility, and he consequently experiences 'anguish'. Sartre attempts to provide support for his view when he says that the Cartesian cogito provides us with an absolute truth — one's immediate sense of oneself. However, he goes on to affirm that in the 'I think' is contained also knowledge of other people. The discovery of oneself is also a revelation of the 'other' as a freedom which confronts mine and which cannot think or will without doing so either for or against me. We find ourselves in a world of 'intersubjectivity'. Now what is characteristic of man is that he is 'self-surpassing'. Although we find ourselves in different historical situations, we are all constrained by certain material, social, and political limitations. These are 'objective', that is, they are met with and recognised everywhere, but in so far as they are lived they are 'subjective': man freely determines himself and his existence in relation to them; and in this respect we can identify a common or universal purpose — self-realization. Free being, as existence choosing its essence, is identical with absolute being, which is at once temporarily localized in history and universally intelligible. It is on this basis that Sartre feels justified in universalizing his commitment — and commitment obliges him to will the liberty of others at the same time [b]. Freedom, he says, is willed in community. However, he denies he is adopting a Kantian position, not least because principles which are too abstract break down and we have to 'invent' our own rule or authority because in concrete cases there are no criteria we can appeal to determine how best to act.

 

POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY/ PHILOSOPHY OF MAN

[6] Although Sartre has expressly rejected Kantianism as being too abstract, the 'rule' which he invents for himself, which is grounded in the concept of freedom, nevertheless owes something to Kant's philosophy. And it is here that the inconsistency with the theory developed in Being and Nothingness becomes evident; for he makes it clear [Pt III, ch, 3] that by attributing freedom to the 'Other' that Other becomes a threat or obstacle to us. Moreover, we can never approach the Other on the basis of equality, where the "recognition of the Other's freedom would involve the recognition of our freedom". It seems in fact that any kind of altruistic or social ethics, whether of the Aristotelian, Kantian, or utilitarian variety, which might just conceivably be consistent with the premisses of Existentialism and Humanism, is ruled out by the pessimistic analysis of human relationships [a]. Sartre supplies in his major work. Nevertheless, he does contemplate a way out: but the possibility of an ethics of "deliverance and salvation" can be achieved, he thinks, only after a "radical conversion" [BN, III, 3, footnote 14]. This proved in due course to be a conversion to Marxism. This brings us to his political philosophy. (The projected work on ethics was never written.)

[Critique of Dialectical Reason: Search for a Method.] A philosophy for Sartre is not a self-indulgent cerebral activity which has relevance only to an individual's own life and personal circumstances. It is, he says [ch. I], simultaneously a way in which the 'rising class' becomes conscious of itself, a totalization of knowledge, a method, a regulative Idea, an offensive weapon, and a community of language. It can 'ferment rotten societies'. and it can become the culture and sometimes the nature of a whole class". Each period, he thinks, has its own 'dominant philosophy'. Just as the philosophies of Descartes, Locke, Kant, and Hegel have in turn performed this role so it is now Marxism that Sartre sees as being the dominant philosophy of the present day. However, he is at the same time severely critical of contemporary Marxists. They treat as concrete truths what should be taken as heuristic (guiding) principles or regulative ideas; their method does not derive concepts from experience but is certain of their truth and treats them as constitutive schemata. The sole purpose of the method is "to force the events, the persons, or the acts considered into prefabricated moulds". Moreover, the 'intellectual' or 'lazy' Marxist interprets history teleologically, in terms of a mechanistic movement towards a moment of final completion, a 'totality'; and thereby subsumes the concrete particular — especially man, whom Sartre sees as free and creative — under the universal. The Marxist is here guilty of 'bad faith'; for while he is employing a mechanistic concept to make it appear that ends have disappeared he is at the same tune attempting to preserve a teleological interpretation. This leads, Sartre says, to "that tedious vacillation in Marxist explanations". What he wants to do is to get back to what he sees as the Hegelian roots of the original Marx. And he seeks a Marxist philosophy which is not a predetermined totality but a continuous totalizing process.

To put concrete man back into history it is necessary to make the historical object pass through a process of 'mediation'. Sartre thinks that contemporary Marxism lacks the means which would allow it grasp or facilitate this process, and he turns to existentialism to bring this about without being unfaithful to pure Marxist principles. To place man in his 'proper framework', the method to be employed is what Sartre calls 'progressive-regressive'. By 'regressive' he means that it is concerned with the uncovering of the fundamental structures that link men to each other and to Nature [ch. III]. This is achieved by the making of what he calls 'cross-references'. And it is 'progressive' in that it is a continuous process of 'totalization'. A biography, for example (Sartre examines in detail the writer Flaubert) is progressively determined through an empathetic examination of the period and of the person's life. The method, he says, holds the life and the period apart until the reciprocal involvement comes to pass of itself and puts a temporary end to the research]. Regression is a move back to an original condition: progression is the movement towards the objective result. What is achieved is an 'understanding' of the individual and period. Moreover, the method, Sartre insists is heuristic and not a priori like the 'synthetic progression' of the 'lazy Marxists' [b]. He is concerned to show how the individual actually makes his free choices in the context of his social grouping but at the same time 'transcends' himself within the dialectical historical process. This purposive activity Sartre refers to by the technical term praxis [c]. It consists of three aspects: (a) the plan or intention (the project); (b) the factual or objective situation man seeks to alter; (c) the 'passing beyond' (dépassement) that situation. The objective situation is called the 'practico-inert'. But it is not just a material structure which limits man; it may be a class, or indeed anything produced by him which as an en-soi is found to be in opposition to the freedom of man himself, the pour-soi and which thus becomes the source of alienation as expressed in what Sartre calls need or scarcity (besoin) [d]. The full significance of praxis is revealed in the Conclusion. Sartre thinks Marxism is the only possible anthropology which can be at once historical and structural, and the only one which at the same time takes man in his totality, that is, in terms of the 'materiality of his condition'. But anthropological disciplines (namely, history, sociology, ethnology, and Marxism — the 'sciences' of man) only study the development and relation of human facts; they do not question themselves about man as such. Intellectual Knowledge is in opposition to Being. So Sartre argues that if anthropology is to be an organized whole, it must overcome this contradiction (which originates in reality itself not in a 'Knowledge') and on its own constitute itself as a 'structural, historical' anthropology. What is needed, therefore is a process of 'interiorization' or 'internalization' by means of which existence can be reintegrated into knowledge. It is here that praxis has a role to play, for the 'determinations of the person' (that is, those economic and cultural factors which oppose or condition him) are sustained, internalized and lived by the personal project; and it is in his comprehending of the project that man makes his own reality, 'existentializes' the ideology. The aim is 'comprehension', by which he mans both 'immediate existence' (since it is produced as 'the movement of action') and as the foundation of an 'indirect knowing' of existence (since it comprehends the existence of the other). And by 'indirect knowing' Sartre means the result of reflection on existence. It is indirect in the sense that it is presupposed by the concepts of anthropology without being itself made the object of concepts. He makes it clear that the process is entirely rational and reproduces the dialectical movement from the 'given' to 'activity' [e]. (Hence his substitution of 'Dialectical Reason' for 'Dialectical Materialism'.) Significantly, he claims that this demand for an existential foundation for Marxist theory is already contained implicitly in Marx's own Marxism. If Marxism does not reintegrate man into itself as its foundation, it will degenerate into a 'non-human' anthropology. What Sartre seems to be saying is that existentialism and Marxism require each other; existentialism will enliven Marxism and as it does so it will be absorbed by Marxism and no longer exist as an independent philosophy [f].

 

CRITICAL SUMMARY

Many professional philosophers, even in France, have often tended to think of Sartre as passé, outmoded. Perhaps it is largely due to his often uncritical presentation of his ideas, his seeming lack of rigour in argument, and his over-reliance on prolix and metaphorical language that has contributed to the negative neglect of his thought by most mainstream British and American philosophers. But his appropriation of Husserl's methodology, and the use he made of seminal ideas of Hegel, Heidegger, and Marx are of significance, even if (as some might argue) he was an eclectic synthesizer rather than an original thinker. Of the central features of Sartre's philosophy the following should be mentioned:

(1) His emphasis on the primacy of existence over essence.

(2) His development of phenomenological techniques to reinterpret the Cartesian ego.

(3) The distinction between en soi and pour soi, and his recognition that being should be the object of intentionality.

(4) Intersubjectivity and other minds are understood in terms of feeling rather than analogically.

(5) His concept of 'bad faith' and (in his mature work) his rejection of external criteria for value. Each individual is held to be totally responsible for making his own values as he 'makes' himself.

(6) The attempt to reconcile existentialism with Marxist ideology, and his view of man as an agent grounded in history.

All of these aspects of his thought have of course provoked a great deal of criticism. The following are some of the more important objections.

(1) It has been claimed that 'existence before essence' is an empty notion, and that Sartre has failed to account adequately for genetic, environmental, and unconscious restraints on humus action. However, it may be said that he recognised and attempted to come to terms with these in his later political writings.

(2) He has a tendency to suppose that freedom is unlimited. But he does not satisfactorily resolve the conflict between the free agency of the prereflective self and the objective 'for itself' governed by causality. In this context he has likewise not really overcome Cartesian dualism. His account of the origins of consciousness also seems obscure.

(3) Sartre's account of value is in effect a radical 'situation ethics' [a] and is either incoherent or leads to the abnegation of all values, in so far as all situations for action are unique. Moreover the subjectivity of his ethics is not readily reconcilable with his appeal to universalizability.

(4) Despite the originality of his political writings, with their postulation of the conscious project or praxis and purposive activity, it is arguable that the existential aspect has not been fully integrated with his acceptance of the material factors which motivate human behaviour or with the dialectic of inevitability — even allowing for his Hegelian modification of Marxism. It is also questionable whether he has satisfactorily dealt with the methodological problem of how within a supposedly unified system of thought a scientific mode of enquiry can simultaneously offer a dialectical comprehension of the human condition.

 

READING

Sartre: La Transcendance de l'ego, ésquisse d'une description phénoménologique (1936) (Trans. as The Transcendence of the Ego. An Existentialist Theory of Consciousness by F. Williams & R. Kirkpatrick);. L'Imagination (1936) (Trans. as Imagination, a Psychological Critique by F. Williams); Esquisse d'une théorie des Emotions (1939) (The Emotions: Outline of a Theory, trans. B. Frechtman); L'être et le néant. Essai d'ontologie phénoménologique (1943) (Being and Nothingness. An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology, trans. H. E. Barnes); L'Existentialism est un humanisme (1946) (Trans. as Existentialism is a Humanism by P. Mairet); Critique de la raison dialectique, précedé de Question de méthode (1960) (Critique of Dialectical Reason, trans. A. Sheridan-Smith, ed. J. Rée; Question de Méthode trans. separately as Search for a Method by H. E. Barnes).

Studies:

Introductory

A. C. Danto, Sartre.

I. Murdoch, Sartre, Romantic Rationalist.

M. Warnock, The Philosophy of Sartre.

More advanced

H. Barnes, Sartre.

P. Caws, Sartre.

G. Cox, Sartre: A Guide for the Perplexed

A. Manser, Sartre, A Philosophic Study.

Collections of essays

C. Howells (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Sartre.

P. Schilpp, The Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre.

 

 

CONNECTIONS

Sartre

 

Note: Sartre's general rejection [see 5a] of all ethics grounded in religious or metaphysical systems (for example, Plato, Aquinas, and so on).

 

[1a] Intentionality in both perceiving and imagining; rejection of phenomenalism and idealism (reality as the rational); transcendent objects through epoché

   Berkeley

   Kant

   Hegel

   Husserl

   Heidegger

[2b]

[3c]

[1a 5c]

[1c 2c]

[2e]

 

[1b] Emotions and intentionality: projection of significance    Scheler [1a]

 

[1c] Rejection of transcendent Ego; distinction between pre-reflective and reflective consciousness; correlativity of reflected Ego and posited objects

   Descartes

   Husserl

   Scheler

   Heidegger

Merleau-Ponty

[1b 2a]

[5a 5b]

[1g]

[1c 2e]

[1b]

 

[2a] Being-in-itself (en-soi) — 'being there': residuum after elimination of attributes, instrumental meaning of things

   Heidegger

Merleau-Ponty

[2d]

[1b 4a]

 

[2b] Being-for-itself (pour-soi) — consciousness as 'negator' of Being-in-itself → Particularizes non-Being

   Hegel

   Heidegger

Merleau-Ponty

[2b 3b 3b 5b e f]

[2h]

[1b 4a]

 

[2c] For-itself negates itself — idealist view of knowledge transformed to mode of Being view; 'upsurge' of For-itself in ontological relation to In-itself

   Hegel

   Heidegger

Merleau-Ponty

[1a 3b]

[2h]

[3f]

 

[3a] 'Existence prior to essence'; temporality and freedom of consciousness/ Being-in-itself; no human nature

   Hegel

   Kierkegaard

   Husserl

   Jaspers

   Ortega y Gasset

   Heidegger

Hampshire

[5f]

[1d e]

[6c]

[1b 4a]

[3b]

[2b]

[1e]

 

[3b] Self-contradiction in concept of God (In-itself and For-itself incompatible)

   Kierkegaard

   Marx

   Jaspers

   Heidegger

[1f]

[1b]

[2b]

[5d]

 

[4a; see also 1c 4b] Self and others; intentionality of Being-in-itself establishes existence of otherminds

   Descartes

   Hegel

   Husserl

   Scheler

   Jaspers

   Heidegger

Merleau-Ponty

Hampshire

[1b]

[5e]

[7b]

[1g]

[3a 4c]

[2g]

[3e]

[1e]

 

[4b; cf. 3b 6a] Unresolvable conflict in sexual relations between intuition of freedom and recognition of self as object for the 'other'

   Hegel

Merleau-Ponty

[5e]

[3e]

 

[4c; cf. 2b] Freedom and indeterminacy; action and elimination of 'nothingness'

   Heidegger

Merleau-Ponty

[2i]

[3g]

 

[5a CSa; cf. 6a] Inauthentic action/ 'bad faith'; the individual endows actions with value. (Hence general rejection of appeal to standards based on religion, metaphysics, relativism, etc.)

   Kant

   Dilthey

   Scheler

   Jaspers

   Ortega y Gasset

Ricoeur

[6d]

[1b]

[5c]

[4b]

[3b]

[10c]

 

[5b] Freely choosing being identical with absolute being; the basis for universalizing of commitment

   Kant

   Hare

[6d]

[1c g]

 

[6a] Inconsistency: when we attribute freedom to the 'Other' it becomes a threat; rules out altruistic/ social ethics?    Hegel [5e]

 

[6b; cf. 6f] Assimilation of existential ethics to original Marxism;'mediation' and 'progressive- regressive method; 'understanding' through empathy

   Marx

   Dilthey

[2a]

[3a]

 

[6c] Man chooses freely in social context and transcends himself within dialectical historical process — purposive activity ('praxis')

   Marx

   Dilthey

Merleau-Ponty

[2b f]

[1a]

[6a]

 

[6d] Man's freedom ('for-itself') limited by any 'in-itself' (material nature, class, etc.); leads to 'alienation' ('need')

   Marx

   Heidegger

Merleau-Ponty

   Hampshire

[1c]

[2h]

[6a]

[1e]

 

[6e] Marxism the only historical/ structural 'anthropology' to take man as totality; contradiction between knowledge and being to be overcome; 'interiorization' — reintegration of existence into knowledge through praxis; rational dialectical process

   Marx

   Dilthey

Merleau-Ponty

[1c 2a]

[1a]

[6a]

 

[6f; cf. 6b] Existential foundation implicit in Marxism — they need each other    Marx [2a]