Philosophy and Literature 34 (2):329-339 (2010)

Near the outset of Faust, Goethe sets his protagonist to translating the beginning of the Book of John. Dissatisfied with translating logos as Word, Faust tries "In the beginning was Mind" (Sinn), but he quickly retreats: "Can it be Mind what makes and shapes all things? Surely it should be 'In the beginning was Power (Kraft).'" Yet reflecting that Power might be merely latent, merely potential, he perseveres until finally Spirit (Geist) prompts Faust to settle on, "In the beginning was the Deed (That)!"1With the restless ambition of Faust, Jean-Paul Sartre tries to find the origins of self-consciousness in a move from Word to Deed, inspired by an account of Jean Genet's foster-mother branding the ..
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DOI 10.1353/phl.2010.0007
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