This paper takes aim at contemporary conceptions of liberal democracy and the accompanying loss of faith with liberal democratic theory which may be observed. There exist problems with procedure, outcomes, and the decline of universality in the face of liberal nationalism which only serve to reinforce boundaries. The clearest cases of these problems have arisen in the United States over the past few years, and especially since the events of September 11, 2001.
From the very beginning of his explicitly political thinking until the end of his life, Jean-Paul Sartre was always cognizant of the fact that the typical electoral system, whether dominated by two or by several "parties," that is to be found in Western countries and that is vaunted as the pinnacle of real democracy amounted to a profound mystification. That is why, at the time of the centenary of his birth, he is owed a renewed respect for his ideas in (...) this area. I do not intend to examine here the evolution of Sartre?s political thought, or even his views with respect to the Eastern European countries, the "socialism" of which, as he eventually discovered, was scarcely more real than their "democracy." Rather, I shall confine myself to recalling certain elements, especially certain iconoclastic elements, of that thought. I shall do so with a view to taking a clear-headed look at a possible future in which those icons will have disappeared. (shrink)
The issue that I wish to address is, why protest and criticize the increasing hegemony of what has been called the “culture of consumerism”? This “why not?” objection encompasses three distinct sets of questions. First, is not resistance to it akin to playing the role of King Canute by the sea? Second, is not acceptance of it dictated by the current liberal philosophical consensus that acknowledges and endorses an inevitable diversity in different individuals’ conceptions of what is good, and must (...) not this consensus itself be taken as a given by all who are opposed to political and religious totalitarianisms? Third, does not cosmopolitanism, regarded as a value-orientation favorable to the dissolution or at least minimization of national boundaries and the practices of exclusivity associated therewith, make common cause in the present historical conjuncture with this same trend? I will argue for a “No” answer to all of these questions. (shrink)
Existentialist Ethics Ethics was Sartre's principal concern, beginning with his famous and complex treatment of "bad faith" in Being and Nothingness, and continuing through his massive posthumously-published Notebooks for an Ethics of the late 1940's, and his mostly unpublished lecture notes that date back to 1964. This volume contains highly informed analyses of all of these materials and other Sartrean works on ethics, as well as interpretations emphasizing the confrontation of his ethical ideas with inauthenticity, sexism, and racism.
Existentialist Ontology and Human Consciousness The majority of the distinguished scholarly articles in this volume focus on Sartre's early philosophical work, which dealt first with imagination and the emotions, then with the critique of Husserl's notion of a transcendental ego, and finally with systematic ontology presented in his best-known book, Being and Nothingness. In addition, since his preoccupation with ontological questions and especially with the meanings of ego, self, and consciousness endured throughout his career, other essays discuss these themes in (...) light of later developments both in Sartre's own thought and in the phenomenological, hermeneutic, and analytic traditions. (shrink)
Existentialist Politics and Political Theory The publication of the Critique of Dialectical Reason in 1960 marked the culmination of Sartre's efforts, begun in his more occasional political writings in what became essentially his journal, Les Temps Modernes, and developed more systematically in his important essay, Search for a Method, to forge links between existentialism and a non-orthodox version of Marxism with a view to developing a new philosophy of politics, society, and history and a new approach to the philosophy of (...) the social sciences. The articles provide a wide-ranging, insightful exploration of Sartre's successes and failures in this domain. (shrink)
Sartre's French Contemporaries and Enduring Influences This final volume examines Sartre's best-known philosophical contemporaries in France-Albert Camus, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Simone de Beauvoir-in terms of both their own philosophical insights and their relationship to Sartre's thought. The articles also offer some suggestive connections between Sartre's thought and subsequent developments in European philosophy, notably structuralism, poststructuralism, and postmodernism. The comparatively recent nature of much of this scholarship is solid testimony to the enduring influence of Sartrean existentialism.
The Development and Meaning of Twentieth-Century Existentialism This volume recaptures, through the writings of figures already well-known in the mid-1940s, the coming-to-consciousness of the existentialist movement, along with early disagreements concerning its significance. The articles present various critics' shifting views of that significance and the movement's standing over subsequent decades. Despite the centrality of Sartre's thought to existentialism, these selections offer interestingly diverse perceptions of his place within the existentialist pantheon, along with varied interpretations of both the historical origins and (...) the future importance of existential philosophy. (shrink)
The paper begins by raising some doubts concerning the appropriateness of the phrase, ”after Marxism,” despite current sociological realities which point to its accuracy. It then discusses a certain “pathology” that may be intrinsic to the combined theory and practice of political philosophy; some examples are offered. Next, it is suggested that the discourse of contemporary European political philosophy suffers from the absence of certain Marxian notions, especially that of ideology. Some current trends---postmodernism, nationalism, critical theory, and religious thought---are then (...) briefly explored . It is contended that none of them by itself is adequate for developing the kind of global worldview which, malgré tout, seems needed to counteract the increasing hegemony of the “Coca-Cola cuIture” of the present day. The paper concludes by raising questions about the possible role, at best an awkward one, of American philosophers in this enterprise. (shrink)