Sartrean Structuralism?

Sartre with Coffee

Peter Caws writes that Jean-Paul Sartre was not as opposed to structuralism as the media made him out to be:

Even in the Marxist period, though, the period of overt criticism, there is evidence of Sartre’s convergence with Structuralism.  Marxism, along with psychoanalysis, literary theory, history, and anthropology, was of course one of the recognized domains of Structuralism in its moment of glory, though, as we shall see, this is not as significant a fact as we might at first be tempted to think.  As far as that goes it should be noted that Sartre has some claim to contributions in each of these other fields as well: existential psychoanalysis; What Is Literature?; the long preoccupation with history in the Critique and the third volume of the Flaubert; the “structural anthropology” of Search for a Method.  This last looks like a clear candidate for a Structuralism of his own, and under some reserve I shall accept it as part of an eventual package.  The reserve derives from two observations: “anthropology” here does not mean Levi-Strauss’s discipline but rather what has come to be called “philosophical anthropology,” while “structural” turns out to be structurelle rather than structurale; if this contrast of suffixes is construed as parallel to Heidegger’s usage (of existentiell in opposition to existential) we would have to read Sartre’s “structural” as connoting activity rather than system. (Caws, 294-295)

Source

Caws, Peter, “Sartrean Structuralism?” in The Cambridge Companion to Sartre edited by Christina Howells.  New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

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