Sartre and Evil: Guidelines for a Struggle

By Haim Gordon; Rivca Gordon | Go to book overview

1
Evil and Lucidity

The tension rises slowly. Roquentin, the major character of Sartre novel Nausea, is sitting in the library of Bouville for the last time. He will soon leave for Paris. Suddenly he notices his acquaintance, the Autodidact, animatedly whispering to a twelve-year-old schoolboy seated next to him. We know the end. The librarian, a Corsican, catches the Autodidact petting the boy; drunk with rage, he starts screaming, explaining self-righteously that for months he has been waiting and spying, wanting to catch the Autodidact at his "game." The Corsican curses and threatens; the Autodidact feigns surprise and indignation, and he denies any wrongdoing; with a whine of pleasure, the Corsican punches him in the nose. Husky, tall, redheaded Roquentin responds immediately. He grabs the Corsican by his neck, lifts him off the floor, and allows the Autodidact to escape.

This incident occurs in the last pages of the book. Roquentin has almost completed what Nietzsche's Zarathustra called the three metamorphoses. He has gropingly understood the existential source of his nausea; sitting in the park he has suddenly seen what Sartre will later, in Being and Nothingness, call the phenomenon of being; with benevolent scorn Anny has departed from his life -- at their last meeting, when he tries to hold her in his arms, she notifies him: "The first good-looking fellow who comes along is just as good as you." 1 During this process of profound change, Roquentin has almost methodically unmasked the bad faith, the duplicity and the greed underlying the many traditional values that encompass him. Quite often he rejected with nausea what Sartre will later call the serious spirit that animates these values. With vision and humor, Sartre shows that

-3-

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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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