Re: Sartre/

I'm glad to see the later Sartre getting a second look. I think this stuff has all too quickly been dismissed in the recent past. Yet it poses some very legitimate questions about the relation of individual human conduct to history. I would conflate the two, but from his own very different perspective Foucault was wrestling with a similar problematic at the end of his life.


>>> stuart.elden@xxxxxxxxxxx 07/19/01 19:33 PM >>>
Clifford and others

In relation to previous posts about Sartre, I've been doing some
thinking and a little reading about this.

Sartre's own Questions de methode [Search for a Method in English
translation], which was originally called Marxism and Existentialism,
and was then published in Critique de la raison dialectique is
invaluable. The Laing and Cooper book Clifford mentioned is also useful.

Laing and Cooper suggest:

'The key positions of the earlier work are conserved in the later, but
conserved through a dialectic transformation as one moment in the later
synthesis' (p16)

In Questions de methode, Sartre declares

'Je considere le marxisme comme l'indepassable philosophie de notre
temps' (p. 14)

'I consider Marxism as the insurpassable philosophy of our time' (my
translation, pxxiv in Search, but this misses the point)

'insurpassable' is barely adequate: Sartre's translation of the
Hegelian Aufheben is depasser.

then on p30/p21 he says he is:

"convinced _at one and the same time_ that historical materialism was
the only valid interpretation of history and that existentialism
remained the only concrete approach to reality. I do not pretend to
deny the contradictions in this attitude. I simply assert that Lukacs
does not even suspect it"

I'm not convinced that this is adequate to explainthe transition in
Sartre's thought, but it makes a little more sense of the ways in which
his thought can be understood.

One question: Sartre quotes a letter from Engels, which he says was to
Marx, the French editor corrects to say it was to Hans Starkenberg, 25
Jan 1894 [p. 37 n], in a few places. The key phrase is 'Men themselves
make their own history but in a given environment which conditions them'
. Sartre says he accepts this without reservation. He wants to stress
the phrase before the 'but' which he claims determinists miss, whilst
recognises constraints. But why does Sartre quote this letter, and not
the very similar, and yet much more detailed and explicit, phrase in
The Eighteenth Brumaire?

By the way, Sartre's relation to Lefebvre is very evident - sometimes
explicit - in this work. Interesting stuff.



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