Philosophy Compass 10 (10):685-689 (2015)

William McBride
Purdue University
The unfinished, posthumously published second volume of Jean-Paul Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason consists for the most part of a study of the evolution of the Soviet Union under the reign of Stalin. Essentially, Sartre sees this history as amounting to a lengthy deviation from the goal of socialism, a deviation that he regards as thoroughly intelligible in light of social and historical circumstances. Some ten years after abandoning his work on this book, on the occasion of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Sartre concluded that this ‘deviation’ was permanent. At the same time, Sartre believed, as he had stated already in Volume I of the Critique, that the post-Stalinist era must be characterized as ‘One World’, a historical turning away from the plurality that had prevailed in all of past human history. The present essay attempts to capture Sartre's approach to history as ongoing ‘totalization’ – conflict-filled, subject to contingency and chance and the frequent occurrence of ‘holes’, and nevertheless intelligible. Although Stalin died many decades ago, and the Soviet Union itself no longer exists as such, it is argued here that Sartre's approach in this book is very useful as a key to the present time. Future history is indeed unpredictable, but Sartre's techniques of historical analysis remain valid. It is also contended, more controversially, that today the ideal of democracy may be in the process of following the path of socialism in the direction of permanent deviation
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/phc3.12254
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,587
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

One World.Wendell Willkie - 1943 - Ethics 54 (1):58-60.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Sartre: The Violence of History.Jean-François Gaudeaux - 2006 - Sartre Studies International 12 (1):50-58.
Sartre and Stalin: Critique of Dialectical Reason, Volume.Andrew Dobson - 1997 - Sartre Studies International 3 (1):1-15.
Sartre and Hegel on Thymos, History and Freedom.Jennifer Ang - 2014 - Cosmos and History 10 (2):229-249.
Sartre and Social Conditioning.Stephen Vincent Carey - 1984 - Dissertation, Duquesne University
A Critique of Existential Marxism.Abdelkader Aoudjit - 1987 - Dissertation, Georgetown University
The Radical Project: Sartrean Investigations.Bill Martin - 2000 - Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Sartre.Mary Warnock - 1971 - Garden City, N.Y., Anchor Books.
Uomo e robot. La dialettica della libertà in Jean-Paul Sartre.Vincenza Petyx - 2011 - Rivista di Storia Della Filosofia 66 (1):63-93.
The Alter-Globalization Movement and Sartre's: Morality and History.Betsy Bowman & Bob Stone - 2005 - Sartre Studies International 11 (s 1-2):265-285.


Added to PP index

Total views
25 ( #443,298 of 2,461,946 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #448,599 of 2,461,946 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes