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The force of inertia. A Sartrean perspective on resistanceAlthough Sartre’s philosophy of freedom is often considered as a philosophy of resistance, rooted in the experience of the Second World War, Sartre did not formulate a full-blown theory of resistance. However, his Critique of Dialectical Reason contains a wealth of material that allows a rethinking of the notion of resistance. In much of the literature, this notion is inflated so as to include action, opposition, struggle, exodus and a range of other phenomena. In order to acquire a sharper sense of the specific meaning of resistance, this paper argues, this notion has to be reconnected with its origins in mechanical physics. Sartre’s key concept of inertia provides a starting point for such a theoretical strategy. Although human beings are fundamentally free, they can live their relation to others and to themselves as if they were inert things. From a Sartrean perspective, resistance means making oneself inert in order to be able to persevere and to hold the line in the face of a threat. Resistance occurs at both sides of a struggle, and can take different, asymmetrical forms. The two fundamental modes of sociality Sartre distinguishes, namely the group and the series, offer different types of resistance to opponents.
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DOI 10.5117/antw2020.2.002.liev
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