Situated consciousness or consciousness of situation? Autonomy and antagonism in Jean-Paul Sartre'sBeing and Nothingness

History of European Ideas 22 (3):193-215 (1996)
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A key issue of contention between political philosophers has been the quest to resolve the tension between self-determination and the recognition of the intersubjective nature of self-development. This paper will argue that although the early work of Jean-Paul Sartre was characterised by the attempt to avoid defining self-determination as un-situated, in trying to situate self-determination Sartre paradoxically endorsed a radical notion of separation. This paradox manifested itself most clearly in his profoundly problematic account of intersubjectivity. Rather than denying the importance of intersubjectivity as is often supposed, Sartre in fact showed a deep awareness of its centrality even though his account of intersubjectivity was premised upon the inevitability of eternal antagonism. The paper will conclude by arguing that the problems in Sartre's arguments may lead to a more secure definition of autonomy and thereby, point toward more hopeful attempts to resolve the tension between autonomy and intersubjectivity



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Bruce Buchan
Griffith University

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Philosophy and the human sciences.Charles Taylor - 1985 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Descartes philosophical writings.René Descartes - 1952 - New York,: Modern Library. Edited by Norman Kemp Smith.

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