Posts Tagged 'jean-paul sartre'

Sartre on Class Consciousness

In his work, The Critique of Dialectical Reason, Sartre elaborates on class consciousness and the formation of working class groups fighting for their own interests:

The events we have studied occurred at a particular moment of the historical process, in a particular field defined by class struggle; and the class struggle itself takes place between [individuals] who are produced by the contemporary mode of production…Conversely the working class defined itself by and through this struggle by its degree of emancipation, that is to say, both by its practices and by its consciousness of itself (which amounts to the same thing). But in truth, the workers’ tactics, the militancy of the proletariat and its degree of class-consciousness are determined not only by the nature, differentiation and importance of the apparatuses (unions, etc.) but also by the more or less immediate opportunity for serial individuals to dissolve their seriality in combat groups, and by the aggressiveness, violence, tenacity and discipline of these groups themselves in the course of the action they undertake (699).

Source

Satre, Jean-Paul.  2004.  Edited by Jonathan Ree and translated by Alan Sheridan-Smith.  Critique of Dialectical Reason: Volume 1.  New York: Verso.

Advertisements

Sartre on the “Fused Group”

In his massive existential Marxian work, Critique of Dialectical Reason,  author Jean-Paul Sartre explains how a seriality of seemingly unrelated people (except through markers of class, ethnicity, or gender, etc.) can come together to form a social force: a group:

[I]n the movement of History, an exploiting class, by tightening its bonds against an enemy and by becoming aware of itself as a unity of individuals in solidarity, shows the exploited classes their material being as a collective and as a point of departure for a constant effort to establish lived bonds of solidarity between its members.  There is nothing surprising about this: in this inert quasi-totality, constantly swept by great movements of counter-finality, the historical collectivity, the dialectical law, is at work: the constitution of group (on the basis, of course, of real, material conditions) as an ensemble of solidarities has the dialectical consequence of making it the negation of the rest of the social field, and, as a result, of occasioning, in this field in so far as it is defined as non-grouped, the conditions for an antagonistic grouping (on the basis of scarcity and in divided social systems) (346).

Thus the common praxis, as the totalisation and struggle against a common praxis of the enemy, realises itself in everyone as the new, free efficacity of [their] praxis, as the free intensification of [their] efort; every freedom creates itself laterally as the totalisation of all freedoms, and totalisation comes to it through the others as a lateral dimension of its individuality, in so far as it is freely individual for them.  This has nothing to do with the radical transformation of freedom as individual praxis, since the statute of this freedom is to live the very totality of the group as a practical dimension to be realised in and by its individuality.  But it is true that there is a new relation between freedoms here, since in every totalisation of the group, the freedom acknowledge themselves to be the same…And the unity of this freedom beneath the shifting multiplicity of the syntheses is itself, and fundamentally, the relation between a negative unity of all (totalisation through annihilation by the enemy) and the negation of this negation to the extent that it is occasioned as totalising and that it produces itself freely on this basis (402-3).

Source

Satre, Jean-Paul.  2004.  Edited by Jonathan Ree and translated by Alan Sheridan-Smith.  Critique of Dialectical Reason: Volume 1.  New York: Verso.

The Worker, Scarcity, & Violence

The mines of Serra Pelada by Sebastião Salgado.

The mines of Serra Pelada by Sebastião Salgado.

Jean-Paul Sartre writes:

Engels was right to say that very often, when two groups engage in a series of contractual exchanges, one of them will end up expropriated, proletarianised and, often, exploited, while the other concentrates the wealth in its own hands.  This takes place in violence, but not by violence: and experiencing exchange as a duel in this way is characteristic of the man of scarcity.  Though the result is appropriated in violence by the dominant class, it is not foreseen by the individuals who compose it. (Sartre, 153-154)

Source

Sartre, Jean-Paul.  Critique of Dialectical Reason Volume I: Theory of Practical Ensembles.  Edited by Jonathan Rée Translated by Alan Sheridan-Smith.  London: New Left Books, 1976.

Philosophy as Totalization of Knowledge

Sartre drawing

In the introduction to Critique of Dialectical Reason (which in America was published separately as Search for a Method) Sartre wrote:

If philosophy is to be simultaneously a totalization of knowledge,, a method, a regulative Idea, an offensive weapon, and a community of language, if this “vision of the world” is also an instrument which ferments rotten societies, if this particular conception of a man or of a group of men becomes the culture and sometimes the nature of a whole class-then it is very clear that the periods of philosophical creation are rare…If this movement on the part of the philosophy no longer exists, one of two things is true: either the philosophy is dead or it is going through a “crisis.” In the first case there is no question of revising, but of razing a rotten building; in the second case the “philosophical crisis” is the particular expression of a social crisis, and its immobility is conditioned by the contradictions which split society.  A so-called “revision,” performed by “experts,” would be, therefore, only an idealist mystification without real significance.  It is the very movement of History, the struggle of men on all planes and on all levels of human activity, which will set free captive thought and permit it to attain its full development. (Sartre, 6-8)

Source

Sartre, Jean-Paul.  Search for a Method.  Translated by Hazel E. Barnes.  New York: Vintage Books, 1968.

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.


Archives

My Tweet Ramblings

  • RT @repnews: The sectarian nature of the unionist-dominated Irish Football Association (IFA) has been highlighted by its playing of ‘God Sa… 1 day ago
  • RT @SocialistVoice: Liverpool bar throwing a F*** the Royals party for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wedding 'The thought of public money… 1 day ago
  • RT @Caittrainor: Fed up of the Freestate facilitating the British Royals every summer, if they want 2 come & see things let them do it priv… 3 days ago
  • RT @AliAbunimah: The odious and murderous occupying entity already sent thousands of “humanitarian” sniper bullets into Gaza. Palestinians… 3 days ago

My Internet Ramblings

Advertisements