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Review of Related Literature

Numerous authors have been enchanted with Sartrean thought. Some take his word as Bible truth; others continually question either his thoughts or his mode of thinking.

The following review deals with various articles and books written about, for and against Sartre and I leave it to the discretion of the reader to formulate his own position regarding Sartrean tenets.




In Search of Authenticity:
From Kierkegaard to Camus

Golomb, Jacob. London: Routledge, 1995.

In Search of Authenticity is the most comprehensive book written in recent years about authenticity. The author, Jacob Golomb, believes that the occasion for inauthenticity is much stronger today due to the devaluation of subjectivity brought about by postmodernity.

In order to present the notion of authenticity to readers, Golomb starts his opus with a discussion on the proper circumscription of the notion of authenticity and its attainment by means of discussing it in relation to sincerity, honesty, literature and irony. Then commences his elaboration on the evolution of the idea of authenticity, starting with Kierkegaard and ending with Camus.

The similarities and differences of the various thinkers on authenticity are brought to light by means of the analysis of different authentic characters. He likewise elaborates on the objective description of authenticity in a more defined circumscription. Ultimately, the feasibility and the applicability of the same are discussed in the concluding chapter of this book.

Other Notes:First, the discussion on the Sartrean conception of authenticity is clearly defined in this book. This is made possible by contextualizing it against the varied notions of authenticity, as presented by other thinkers. Second, this book likewise explicitly indicates certain problems that may come as an impetus for other thinkers to work on. Finally, its comparative discussion of the different authentic anti-heroes presents to the readers the universality of the notion of authenticity among the Existentialists. This element becomes itself the assurance for thinkers that the search for authenticity is a collective search. It presents the universal longing to fill up the existential void and emptiness, if only to become authentically human. [Back to Main Articles]


Using Sartre: An Analytical Introduction to
Early Sartrean Themes

McCulloch, Gregory.London: Routledge, 1994.

As the title suggests, Using Sartre is an introduction intended for Sartrean readers whose orientation is analytical in nature. The basically broad subject of early Sartrean thought is properly explicated in this book. All its 144 pages are devoted to an analytical exposition of Sartrean themes. After giving an initial orientation of Sartrean thought in terms of methodology, aims and the like, Using Sartre commences a logical, clear and precise exposition of the Sartrean notions on emotion, nothingness, freedom, anguish, realism and idealism.

Using Sartre has likewise contributed a lot to remedy the dearth of explication of the aspect of Sartrean thought under study. The fourth chapter of this book is devoted to the discussion of bad faith and self-deception. The clear exposition of the same is made possible by describing the said states and relating them to consciousness. The discussion of the role of transcendence and facticity in bad faith in this book is very much in conjunction with the original Sartrean discussion of the same, especially in Being and Nothingness.

Finally, Using Sartre explicates, analyzes, and points out problems in the Sartrean notion of authenticity. These problems shall be tackled later in this thesis. This book makes a significant contribution to the development of the analytical philosophy of the mind, and ultimately supplies an impetus intended to spark new interest in Sartre and Existentialism. [Back to Main Articles]


The Cambridge Companion to Sartre

Howells, Christina, ed. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992.

The Cambridge Companion to Sartre contains commissioned essays on certain Sartrean themes. Edited by Christina Howells, this book contains unpublished essays by Sartrean scholars such as Hazel Barnes, Ronald Aronson, Peter Caws, and Pierre Verstraethen.

The book is divided into three parts with three essays each. The first part is devoted to the works of Sartre during the thirties and the forties. It is a very good foundation for the Sartrean reader since it orients him, as it were, to early Sartrean themes. The second part deals with psychology and ethics. It is this part which will be interesting to the Sartrean reader focusing on authenticity. Finally, the third part continues to focus on Sartre's later and posthumously published works. This part presents the new Sartre, the Sartre who is of interest to the postmodernist. An appendix entitled Hegel and Sartre, written by Pierre Verstraethen provides Sartrean readers a comparison of Sartre and Hegel on certain controversial, and equally difficult, topics.

The Companion is an additional edition to the series of books on major philosophers published by Cambridge University. [Back to Main Articles]


Marxism and Existentialism: The Political Philosophy of Sartre and Merleau-Ponty

Archard, David. Hampshire: Gregg Revivals, 1992.

Based upon part of the doctoral dissertation of David Archard, this methodical comparative analysis of the political philosophies of Sartre and Merleau-Ponty was originally published in Great Britain by Blackstaff Press in 1980. The study covers the years when the two towering philosophers were directly involved in a dialogue. The consideration of works is likewise limited to the first writings of Sartre and Merleau-Ponty to the latter's demise in 1961.

In the introduction, Archard posited the ambiguity of the terms Existentialism and Marxism, and proceeded to present the common aspects of the thoughts of Sartre and Merleau-Ponty on these matters. After presenting the problem of the irreconcilability of Existentialism and Marxism, it leaves the problem unsolved by clarifying that the study shall not venture to inquire on the genuineness of Sartre's and Merleau-Ponty's Marxism. The body is dedicated to an analytical exposition of the political dialogue between the two thinkers. This it does in an intermingling of chronological and logical orders. The conclusion analyzes the political thoughts of each philosopher and pointed out the fact that the dialogue between the two thinkers endures despite the eventual parting of ways of the two.

It would be unphilosophical to critique that the book does not consider the later writings of Sartre (books and essays he wrote after 1961, specifically the Critique of Dialectical Reason) for the reason that it is an analytico-comparative study between Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. Nevertheless, it would serve best to point this fact out for the reason that it is in Sartre's later works where he explicated the implied political thoughts in his earlier writings.

The claim in this publication that "[n]o political doctrine was necessarily implied by their [Sartre's and Merleau-Ponty's] Existentialism" is of great controversy since this writer presents the thesis that Sartre's political thought is a necessary offshoot of his earlier existential ethics. [Back to Main Articles]


Vulgarity and Authenticity: Dimensions of Otherness in the World of Jean-Paul Sartre

Charme, Stuart Zane. Amherst: Univ. of Mass. Press, 1991.

Vulgarity and Authenticity discusses the Sartrean notion of bad faith with reference to civility, i.e. conventional social manner. In this book, Stuart Zane Charme points out that following social conventions becomes itself an occasion, if not an act, of bad faith.

The extensiveness of Sartrean thought includes interpersonal relationships. It is in this aspect that Charme discusses Sartrean authenticity. The specialty of this book is given in a threefold manner.

First, Charme discusses authenticity in the context of the struggle between civility and vulgarity. Presenting a connection between Sartrean thought and the person of Sartre, Charme pinpoints certain periods in the life of Sartre and ultimately explains how a particular period has contributed to his thought.

Second, Charme uses an extraordinarily extensive set of primary Sartrean materials in order to give credence to his claims. Unlike most Sartrean authors who focus only on Sartre's monumental work, Being and Nothingness, Charme has referred certain topics of this book to the other literary compositions of Sartre.

Finally, Charme is successful in combining Sartre the writer and Sartre the person. Sartrean biographers usually focus only on his life without knowing much of his thoughts. On the other hand, Sartrean critics zero in only on his works without giving worthy attention to his life. The synthesis successfully brought about by Charme in this book is simply remarkable. [Back to Main Articles]


Sartre's Political Theory

McBride, William. Indianapolis: Indiana Univ. Press, 1991.

The thematic climate of a book primarily rests on the dexterity of its author. Sartre's Political Theory is an academic output of the cofounder and the first Executive Committee Chairperson of the Sartre Society of North America.

In this book, McBride invites Sartrean readers to trek the complex trail of the evolution of Sartrean thought from his ontologico-phenomenological writings to his ontic-political literature.

The first two chapters of the book deal with the early thoughts and writings of Sartre. They pinpoint important experiences of the young Sartre and likewise the intellectual influences of such figures as Hegel, Kant, Husserl, Heidegger, among others, which helped form his philosophical mindset. The second chapter even presents in a very simple style the individualistic ethics of early Sartre and how this developed into a collectivist philosophy through years of intellectual development. The other chapters discuss Sartre's political theory as imbedded in his writings, most especially the Critique.

The masterly discussion of the influences on Sartre's thought, the adroit presentation of the Sartrean transition from ontology to politics and the adept exposition and subsequent analysis of Sartrean political thought are but some of the reasons of the extreme significance of this publication to this present study. The fact that a Sartrean authority wrote this book makes it all the more notable. [Back to Main Articles]


Rhetoric, Organizational Communication, and Sartre's Theory of Practical Groups

McGee, Michael Calvin. Personal Web Site. 1996.

This internet article was first presented as a Lecture, "Rhetoric, Organizational Communication, and Sartre's Theory of Group Praxis," during the Second Annual B. Aubrey Fisher Memorial Lecture at the University of Utah in 1989. McGee then copyrighted the article for his personal web site in the Internet.

The article is basically an inquiry into the manner by which Sartre's thoughts on collectivity relate to rhetorics and organizational communication. McGee argues that "when Sartre theorized class as a special instance of groupness, he exemplified a strategy of thinking that will prove as useful in rhetorical theory and in an organizational communication as it ought to have been in Marxist social theory." The whole article revolves around the practical implications of Sartrean collectivity in group praxis. It elucidates on the Sartrean aim of analyzing the dynamics of human interaction.

The first part of the article thematically compares the thoughts on collectivity of Jean-Paul Sartre and Louis Althusser. It exposes the sundry perspectives the two political thinkers apply in their approach to Marxism. Thereupon, McGee proceeds to a description of relevant Sartrean terms in his theory of group praxis, such as ensemble, alterity, reciprocity, group, series, gathering, fused group, pledged group, organized group, institution and class. It further points out how Sartre considered the Marxism of his days as flawed regarding the way it approached the central concern of class dialectics.

The article by McGee is of threefold importance to the present study. First, the manner by which this study treats the Sartrean notion of collectivity is of much value to the present study because it affirms the fact that Sartrean thought has undergone the significant evolution which this researcher wishes to emphasize in this study. Second, his comparative analysis between the thoughts of Sartre and Althusser pinpoints the strength and limitations of Sartrean thought. Finally, the terministic description McGee offers in this article provides this writer a background for approaching the political theory of Sartre. [Back to Main Articles]


Homage to Jean-Paul Sartre.
A Life of Philosophy: Selected Works
(1965-1988) of Emerita S. Quito

Quito, Emerita S. Manila: De La Salle Univ. Press, 1990.

The foremost Filipino philosopher in the person of Dr. Emerita Quito presents an in-depth yet extensive treatment of Sartrean themes in this article. The nobility of this opus rests on the indiscriminatory treatment of Sartre achieved by means of presenting both the genius of Sartrean thought and the validity of the arguments presented against him.

Her taxonomy of Sartrean themes into early and later periods clarifies the evolution of the thought of her mentor whom she considered to be the "most maligned philosopher of our century," while at the same time considering him to be the most influential thinker of the twentieth century.

Her exposition of the Sartrean themes of freedom and authenticity is most helpful in this paper. New thoughts that cannot be found in other studies are pointed out in her study. These thoughts shall later prove useful in this paper, in order to arrive at new, unorthodox conclusions regarding Sartrean thought. [Back to Main Articles]


The Cynicism of Sartre's Bad Faith

Santoni, Ronald E. International Philosophical Quarterly 10 (March 1990): 3-15.

The Cynicism of Sartre's Bad Faith is an article arguing against the Sartrean claim that bad faith is not cynical. Sartre argues that bad faith, as lying to oneself and distinguished from lying in general, precludes the possibility of completely concealing the truth from the one whom one is trying to deceive --oneself. He thus concluded that bad faith consciousness cannot be cynical.

In this article, Santoni attempts to prove Sartre wrong. For him, Sartre is guilty of focusing on the single unified consciousness of bad faith (lying to oneself) while at the same time inadvertently allowing the duality of consciousness to become a necessary condition for both lying in general and cynicism. Santoni continues that by committing that flaw, Sartre has failed to acknowledge the cynical aspects of the kind of lying that goes with bad faith.

In the conclusion, Santoni hypothetically argues that if his analysis is sound, Sartre's bad faith may be said to be cynical. For him, the project and structure of bad faith bear most of the elements of cynical consciousness as elucidated in Sartrean writings. [Back to Main Articles]


Sartre's Hello's and de Beauvoir's Goodbye's: Morality, Authenticity and God

Santoni, Ronald E. Philosophy Today 31 (Fall 1987) : 242-252.

Ronald E. Santoni essays on the development of Sartrean thoughts on morality, authenticity, and God. He focuses his study on two works, both published in English in 1984. The first is The War Diaries of Jean-Paul Sartre and the second is de Beauvoir's Adieux: A Farewell to Sartre.

The first book, which was originally written during the Second World War before the capture and imprisonment of Sartre by the German occupation forces, records Sartre's personal search for authenticity in a situation of a "phoney war." Moreover, it likewise contains first drafts of dominant passages of Being and Nothingness. The second book essays on de Beauvoir's recount of Sartre's last years and days and various Sartrean thoughts which are not discussed during his early years. In the same book, we learn of Sartre's "unnatural uneasiness regarding the Other." This personal experience is very much related to the somewhat pessimistic idea of early Sartre regarding the attainment of interpersonal authenticity.

Santoni's interpretation of certain claims found in these two books provides Sartrean readers a new perspective regarding Sartrean thought. His interpretation of bad faith in view of the two books is likewise relevant to the present study. [Back to Main Articles]


Moral Perspectives in
Jean-Paul Sartre's Existentialism

Borrajo, Magin O.P. Manila: UST Publications, 1968.

The discussion of the Sartrean notion of authenticity is a logical consequence of the Sartrean brand of Existentialism. A comprehension of the former shall thus have to proceed from an initial knowledge of the latter. In the same manner, an evaluation of the morality of Sartrean authenticity has to be discussed in the light of the morality of Sartrean Existentialism.

In this published dissertation, Fr. Borrajo has put into the limelight the moral aspect of Sartrean thought. He begins with a concise yet clear explication of Sartrean Existentialism and proceeds with the setting forth of the point of departure of Sartrean ethics. After discussing the implications of Sartrean ethics, Fr. Borrajo concludes with the claim that the root of the failure of the Sartrean moral perspectives is ultimately his unrelenting atheism. The denial of God and the separation of man from divine dependence ultimately "condemns him to the desperate and incurable contradiction of his being."

What is remarkable in this material is the intellectual honesty of the writer. As Emerita Quito writes in the introduction of this same work, Fr. Borrajo has disagreed with Sartre when the occasion calls for it, chided him for conflicting views, and applauded him when his thoughts coincided with experience. [Back to Main Articles]


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