Sartre and Evil: Guidelines for a Struggle

By Haim Gordon; Rivca Gordon | Go to book overview

10
Sartre's Tone of Moral Indignation

One cannot struggle actively against Evil in society without expressing moral indignation and without abandoning a detached objective stance. The so-called detached objective stance, which has become so acceptable in contemporary society, is often a flight from perceiving Evil; when such occurs it is merely another manner of supporting the status quo. As already emphasized, not very many twentieth-century philosophers have proved willing to abandon the comforts of a detached objective stance; consequently, few have expressed moral indignation. (We have already shown how Anglo-Saxon social scientists conform to the approach of the rightthinking man and flee moral judgments and moral indignation.) Even among the few philosophers who forcefully expressed moral indignation, Sartre is quite exceptional. Because, like Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, his moral indignation has an original tone. It is this unique tone that often helps Sartre to provide valuable insights on how to perceive Evil in society and how to struggle against it.

An important characteristic of Sartre's tone that distinguishes it from the tone of, say, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard is the abundance of selfcriticism and self-derision. Sartre, like Socrates, loved to question everything, including himself. What is more, Sartre is a critic of himself who delights in showing his readers his past weaknesses and stupid failings. Such questioning and delight in self-criticism is one of the prominent tones of his autobiography The Words, and often accompanies the moral indignation that appears in many of Sartre's other social and political writings. In the following section, we discuss one such essay. It contains

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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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