Adventures of the Dialectic
Maurice Merleau-Ponty Northwestern University Press, 1973 Library of Congress B809.8.M4413 | Dewey Decimal 335.411
"We need a philosophy of both history and spirit to deal with the problems we touch upon here. Yet we would be unduly rigorous if we were to wait for perfectly elaborated principles before speaking philosophically of politics." Thus Merleau-Ponty introduces Adventures of the Dialectic, his study of Marxist philosophy and thought. In this study, containing chapters on Weber, Lukacs, Lenin, Sartre, and Marx himself, Merleau-Ponty investigates and attempts to go beyond the dialectic.
A long-overdue book on the brilliant life and career of one of our greatest public intellectuals, American Prophet will introduce Carey McWilliams to a new generation of readers.
Peter Richardson's absorbing and elegantly paced book reveals a figure thoroughly engaged with the issues of his time. Deftly interweaving correspondence, diary notes, published writings, and McWilliams's own and others' observations on a colorful and influential cast of characters from Hollywood, New York, Washington, DC, and the American West, Richardson maps the evolution of McWilliams's personal and professional life. Among those making an appearance are H. L. Mencken (McWilliams's mentor and role model), Louis Adamic, John Fante, Robert Towne, Richard Nixon, Studs Terkel, J. Edgar Hoover, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and Joseph McCarthy.
American Prophet illustrates the arc of McWilliams's life and career from his early literary journalism through his legal and political activism, his stint in state government, and his two decades as editor of the Nation. This book makes the case for McWilliams's place in the Olympian realm of our most influential and prescient political writers.
Peter Richardson is the editorial director at PoliPointPress in Sausalito, California. He is the author or editor of numerous works on language, literature, and California public policy. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of California Berkeley.
Thomas Aquinas and Jean-Paul Sartre are usually identified with completely different philosophical traditions: intellectualism and voluntarism. In this original study, Stephen Wang shows, instead, that there are some profound similarities in their understanding of freedom and human identity.
Bad Faith Good Faith
Ronald E. Santoni Temple University Press, 1995 Library of Congress B2430.S34S314 1995 | Dewey Decimal 128
From the beginning to the end of his philosophizing, Sartre appears to have been concerned with "bad faith"—our "natural" disposition to flee from our freedom and to lie to ourselves. Virtually no aspect of his monumental system has generated more attention. Yet bad faith has been plagued by misinterpretation and misunderstanding. At the same time, Sartre's correlative concepts of "good faith" and "authenticity" have suffered neglect or insufficient attention, or been confused and wrongly identified by Sartre scholars, even by Sartre himself.
Ronald E. Santoni takes on the challenge of distinguishing these concepts, and of showing whether either or both existential "attitudes" afford deliverance from the hell of Sartre's bad faith. He offers the first fill-scale analysis, reconstruction, and differentiation of these ways of existing as they develop in Sartre's early works (1937-1947).
Although he attempts to redeem Sartre's slighted concept of good faith, Santoni warns that it must not be viewed interchangeably with authenticity. Further, in one of the earliest and most sustained studies of Sartre's Notebooks for an Ethics available in English, Santoni shows how Sartre's posthumously published notes for an "ethics of Salvation" confirm his differentiation and argument. The way out of Sartrean hell, Santoni insists, is authenticity—living "with fidelity" to our unjustifiable freedom and assuming responsibility for it.
Until now it has been impossible to read the full story of the relationship between Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. Their dramatic rupture at the height of the Cold War, like that conflict itself, demanded those caught in its wake to take sides rather than to appreciate its tragic complexity. Now, using newly available sources, Ronald Aronson offers the first book-length account of the twentieth century's most famous friendship and its end.
Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre first met in 1943, during the German occupation of France. The two became fast friends. Intellectual as well as political allies, they grew famous overnight after Paris was liberated. As playwrights, novelists, philosophers, journalists, and editors, the two seemed to be everywhere and in command of every medium in post-war France. East-West tensions would put a strain on their friendship, however, as they evolved in opposing directions and began to disagree over philosophy, the responsibilities of intellectuals, and what sorts of political changes were necessary or possible.
As Camus, then Sartre adopted the mantle of public spokesperson for his side, a historic showdown seemed inevitable. Sartre embraced violence as a path to change and Camus sharply opposed it, leading to a bitter and very public falling out in 1952. They never spoke again, although they continued to disagree, in code, until Camus's death in 1960.
In a remarkably nuanced and balanced account, Aronson chronicles this riveting story while demonstrating how Camus and Sartre developed first in connection with and then against each other, each keeping the other in his sights long after their break. Combining biography and intellectual history, philosophical and political passion, Camus and Sartre will fascinate anyone interested in these great writers or the world-historical issues that tore them apart.
Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason ranks with Being and Nothingness as a work of major philosophical significance, but it has been largely neglected. The first volume, published in 1960, was dismissed as a Marxist work at a time when structuralism was coming into vogue; the incomplete second volume has only recently been published in France. In this commentary on the first volume, Joseph S. Catalano restores the Critique to its deserved place among Sartre’s works and within philosophical discourse as a whole. Sartre attempts one of the most needed tasks of our times, Catalano asserts—the delivery of history into the hands of the average person.
Sartre’s concern in the Critique is with the historical significance of everyday life. Can we, he asks, as individuals or even collectively, direct the course of our history? A historical context for our lives is given to us at birth, but we sustain that context with even our most mundane actions—buying a newspaper, waiting in line, eating a meal. In looking at history, Sartre argues, reason can never separate the historical situation of the investigator from the investigation. Thus reason falls into a dialectic, always depending upon the past for guidance but always being reshaped by the present.
Clearly showing the influence of Marx on Sartre’s thought, the Critique adds the historical dimension lacking in Being and Nothingness. In placing the Critique within the corpus of Sartre’s philosophical writings, Catalano argues that it represents a development rather than a break from Sartre’s existentialist phase. Catalano has organized his commentary to follow the Critique and has supplied clear examples and concrete expositions of the most difficult ideas. He explicates the dialogue between Marx and Sartre that is internal to the text, and he also discusses Sartre’s Search for Method, which is published separately from the Critique in English editions.
The Debate between Sartre and Merleau-Ponty provides a balanced portrait of the intellectual relationship between these two men. Essays by leading scholars as well as selections from the primary texts of Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir address the numerous points of contact and cover the major themes of the debate from the different periods in their shared history. A biographical overview introduces the work and provides a context for the theoretical issues taken up in the articles, and an extensive bibliography suggests further readings to supplement the selections included in the volume.
The rootless Jew, wandering disconnected from history, homeland, and nature, was often the target of early twentieth-century nationalist rhetoric aimed against modern culture. But following World War II, a number of prominent French philosophers recast this maligned figure in positive terms, and in so doing transformed postwar conceptions of politics and identity.
Sarah Hammerschlag explores this figure of the Jew from its prewar usage to its resuscitation by Jean-Paul Sartre, Emmanuel Levinas, Maurice Blanchot, and Jacques Derrida. Sartre and Levinas idealized the Jew’s rootlessness in order to rethink the foundations of political identity. Blanchot and Derrida, in turn, used the figure of the Jew to call into question the very nature of group identification. By chronicling this evolution in thinking, Hammerschlag ultimately reveals how the figural Jew can function as a critical mechanism that exposes the political dangers of mythic allegiance, whether couched in universalizing or particularizing terms.
Both an intellectual history and a philosophical argument, The Figural Jew will set the agenda for all further consideration of Jewish identity, modern Jewish thought, and continental philosophy.
The relationship between the existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre and the post-structuralist Jecques Derrida has never been fully examined until now. In Forms in the Abyss, Steve Martinot finds, between these two important philosophical thinkers of the twentieth century, "a common uncommonality" by which he sees them confront each other as "kindred souls" despite their vast differences.
Martinot argues that a bridge between these two thinkers can be constructed. He demonstrates that one can use the critical tools provided by Derrida, and the forms of discourse and reasoning developed by Sartre, to set the two in dialogue with each other. In the process, Martinot develops a theory of dialogue that incorporates both ethics and form and contributes a new way of thinking about critical and social theory. More importantly, he adds a new ethical and political imperative to postmodern thought that many dritics have often found missing in the works of thinkers like Derrida.
Hope Now: The 1980 Interviews
Jean-Paul Sartre and Benny Lévy University of Chicago Press, 1996 Library of Congress B2430.S34A5 1996 | Dewey Decimal 194
In March of 1980, just a month before Sartre's death, Le Nouvel Observateur published a series of interviews, the last ever given, between the blind and debilitated philosopher and his young assistant, Benny Levy. Readers were scandalized and denounced the interviews as distorted, inauthentic, even fraudulent. They seemed to portray a Sartre who had abandoned his leftist convictions and rejected his most intimate friends, including Simone de Beauvoir. This man had cast aside his own fundamental beliefs in the primacy of individual consciousness, the inevitability of violence, and Marxism, embracing instead a messianic Judaism. No, Sartre's supporters argued, it was his interlocutor, the ex-radical, the orthodox, ultra-right-wing activist who had twisted the words and thought of an ailing Sartre to his own ends. Or had he?
Shortly before his death, Sartre confirmed the authenticity of the interviews and their puzzling content. Over the past fifteen years, it has become the task of Sartre scholars to unravel and understand them. Presented in this fresh, meticulous translation, the interviews are framed by two provocative essays from Benny Levy himself, accompanied by a comprehensive introduction from noted Sartre authority Ronald Aronson. Placing the interviews in proper biographical and philosophical perspective, Aronson demonstrates that the thought of both Sartre and Levy reveals multiple intentions that taken together nevertheless confirm and add to Sartre's overall philosophy. This absorbing volume at last contextualizes and elucidates the final thoughts of a brilliant and influential mind.
Jean-Paul Sartre (1906-1980) was offered, but declined, the Nobel Prize for literature in 1964. His many works of fiction, drama, and philosophy include the monumental study of Flaubert, The Family Idiot, and The Freud Scenario, both published in translation by the University of Chicago Press.
Countless biographers have tried to unveil the real Jean-Paul Sartre without his consent or cooperation. Only John Gerassi—the "non-godson" of Sartre, an atheist—was honored with the responsibility of being Sartre's official biographer. After drafting the commission with Sartre on the back of a menu at La Coupole, Gerassi recorded over one hundred hours of interviews with him between 1974 and 1979, and another hundred hours with Sartre's friends, colleagues, and enemies. Gerassi also immersed himself in Sartre's literary, philosophical, and personal writings. Gerassi had access to all of Sartre's files, unpublished manuscripts, and extensive notes for planned but undelivered lectures. Simone de Beauvoir gave many of Sartre's unpublished letters to Gerassi as well. Sartre trusted the integrity of Gerassi so completely that he considered Gerassi's biography to be the continuation of his own autobiography, Les mots. As a personal friend, Gerassi writes with advantages shared by no other biographer of Sartre.
It is a curious and relatively little-known fact that for two decades—from the end of World War II until the late 1960s—existentialism’s most fertile ground outside of Europe was in the Middle East, and Jean-Paul Sartre was the Arab intelligentsia’s uncontested champion. In the Arab world, neither before nor since has another Western intellectual been so widely translated, debated, and celebrated.
By closely following the remarkable career of Arab existentialism, Yoav Di-Capua reconstructs the cosmopolitan milieu of the generation that tried to articulate a political and philosophical vision for an egalitarian postcolonial world. He tells this story by touring a fascinating selection of Arabic and Hebrew archives, including unpublished diaries and interviews. Tragically, the warm and hopeful relationships forged between Arab intellectuals, Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and others ended when, on the eve of the 1967 war, Sartre failed to embrace the Palestinian cause. Today, when the prospect of global ethical engagement seems to be slipping ever farther out of reach, No Exit provides a timely, humanistic account of the intellectual hopes, struggles, and victories that shaped the Arab experience of decolonization and a delightfully wide-ranging excavation of existentialism’s non-Western history.
In this important book, Thomas R. Flynn reinterprets and evaluates Sartre's social and political philosophy, arguing that the existential ethics of Sartre's early phase is consistent with the Marxist-inspired views of his later writings. Displaying his mastery of Sartre's entire corpus, Flynn reconstructs Sartre's social ontology with its sensitive balance of the existentialist's respect for moral responsibility and the Marxist's sense of social causation. Flynn focuses on the issue of collective responsibility as a particularly apt test-case for assessing any proposed union of existentialist and Marxist perspectives.
The study begins with an examination of the uses of "responsibility" in Being and Nothingness and in several postwar essays. Flynn then concentrates on the Critique of Dialectical Reason, offering a thorough analysis of the remarkable social theory Sartre constructs there. A masterful contribution to Sartre scholarship, Sartre and Marxist Existentialism will be of great interest to social and political philosophers involved in the debate over collective responsibility.
Sartre and Foucault were two of the most prominent and at times mutually antagonistic philosophical figures of the twentieth century. And nowhere are the antithetical natures of their existentialist and poststructuralist philosophies more apparent than in their disparate approaches to historical understanding.
A history, thought Foucault, should be a kind of map, a comparative charting of structural transformations and displacements. But for Sartre, authentic historical understanding demanded a much more personal and committed narrative, a kind of interpretive diary of moral choices and risks compelled by critical necessity and an exacting reality. Sartre's history, a rational history of individual lives and their intrinsic social worlds, was in essence immersed in biography.
In Volume One of this authoritative two-volume work, Thomas R. Flynn conducts a pivotal and comprehensive reconstruction of Sartrean historical theory, and provocatively anticipates the Foucauldian counterpoint to come in Volume Two.
Sartre and Foucault were two of the most prominent and at times mutually antagonistic philosophical figures of the twentieth century. And nowhere are the antithetical natures of their existentialist and poststructuralist philosophies more apparent than in their disparate approaches to historical understanding. In Volume One of this authoritative two-volume study, Thomas R. Flynn conducted a pivotal and comprehensive reconstruction of Sartrean historical theory. This long-awaited second volume offers a comprehensive and critical reading of the Foucauldian counterpoint.
A history, theorized Foucault, should be a kind of map, a comprehensive charting of structural transformations and displacements over time. Contrary to other Foucault scholars, Flynn proposes an "axial" rather than a developmental reading of Foucault's work. This allows aspects of Foucault's famous triad of knowledge, power, and the subject to emerge in each of his major works. Flynn maps existentialist categories across Foucault's "quadrilateral," the model that Foucault proposes as defining modernist conceptions of knowledge. At stake is the degree to which Sartre's thought is fully captured by this mapping, whether he was, as Foucault claimed, "a man of the nineteenth century trying to think in the twentieth."