Sartre and Evil: Guidelines for a Struggle

By Haim Gordon; Rivca Gordon | Go to book overview

to Sartre's ontology of freedom, the entire book is a discussion of the manifestations of Sartre's definition of Evil as the destruction of human freedom.

And finally, although we fight Evil, we are definitely not Manichean. Rather, we are engaged in specific, concrete, down-to-earth struggles against the destruction of freedom here in the world. Of course, we have made many mistakes in our attempts to fight evil. Still, in relating to Good and Evil, we have been guided by what the elderly Sartre said to Simone de Beauvoir in one of her interviews with him:

Essentially, the Good is that which is useful to human freedom, that which allows it to give their full value to objects it has realized. Evil is that which is harmful to human freedom, that which holds men out as not being free and which, for example, creates the determinism of the sociologists of a certain period. 5

These points lead to probably the most important conclusion of this book, which can be stated at the outset. Our study of Sartre's writings has in a somewhat roundabout manner proved that engagement in the world for a better world can be a way of life, while also being central to a philosophical approach -- even in the twentieth century, with its degradation of existence and its multitude of horrors. Moreover, one need not be a genius like Sartre to attempt to live such an engaging and worthy life, informed by a philosophy that respects and struggles for freedom. Sartre repeatedly indicated that lucidity, courage, authenticity, and the willingness to see, to confront, and to fight evil are possibilities that are open to many, if not to all people, who choose to be engaged.

We hope that this book will help a few such people benefit from Sartre's valuable insights and profound guidance while choosing to fight Evil.


NOTES
1.
Michel Contat and Michel Rybalka, eds., The Writings of Jean-Paul Sartre: Selected Prose, vol. 2, trans. Richard McCleary ( Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1974), p. 173.
2.
Louis D. Nordstrom, "Sartre and Evil: A Study of 'Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr'" (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1973).
3.
For Martin Heidegger's relationship to Nazism, see Victor Farias, Heidegger and Nazism ( Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989).
4.
John Gerassi, Jean-Paul Sartre: Hated Conscience of His Century, vol. 1 ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989).
5.
Simone de Beauvoir, Adieux: A Farewell to Sartre, trans. Patrick O'Brian ( New York: Pantheon, 1984), p. 439. For a discussion of the sociologists whom Sartre mentions, see chapter 5of this book.

-xxiii-

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Sartre and Evil: Guidelines for a Struggle
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Notes xxiii
  • Part I - Intuitively Responding to Evil 1
  • 1 - Evil and Lucidity 3
  • Notes 16
  • 2 - Unmasking Noble Evil 17
  • Notes 31
  • 3 - Bewitching Evil 33
  • Notes 47
  • 4 - Horror and Evil 49
  • Notes 62
  • Part II - The Ontology of Evil 63
  • 5 - Sartre's Ontology of Evil and the Poverty of the Social Sciences 65
  • Notes 77
  • 6 - Evil for Evil's Sake 79
  • Notes 86
  • 7 - The Consciousness of Genet: A Rejection of Fanaticism 87
  • Notes 103
  • 8 - Genet's Redemption from a Life of Evil 105
  • Notes 113
  • Part III - Evil and Society 115
  • 9 - Fighting Evil Straightforwardly 117
  • Notes 127
  • 10 - Sartre's Tone of Moral Indignation 129
  • Notes 140
  • 11 - Seriality versus Education 143
  • Notes 160
  • 12 - Passivity, Black Pride, and Evil 161
  • Notes 180
  • 13 - Passivity and the Distortion of Truth and Knowledge 183
  • Notes 198
  • 14 - Some Problems 199
  • Notes 206
  • Summary 207
  • Appendix 211
  • Selected Bibliography 227
  • Index 231
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