Sedimentation and the Grounds of Cultural Values

A full draft of chapter 7 is now available to download.

It argues that Sartre’s initial form of existentialism precludes any explanation of the widespread adoption of the project of bad faith that Sartre claims shapes our culture, and this seems to have been the problem that led him to adopt Beauvoir’s idea of sedimentation.

More specifically, Sartre’s analysis of anti-Semitism and Jewish culture is his attempt to ground a cultural theory in his initial form of existentialism. Its reliance on an unexplainable prevalence of bad faith is the central weakness of this analysis.

By contrast, Sartre’s essay on Négritude poetry, ‘Black Orpheus’, written only a few years later while Beauvoir was finalising The Second Sex, rests its account of cultural values on the idea of sedimentation through upbringing rather than on the idea of bad faith.

But it is his biography of Genet, published in 1952, that undertakes the task of fully rethinking his existentialism with the idea of sedimentation incorporated into it.

Please do let me know what you think of the chapter, either by posting in the Comments thread to this news item or sending me an email.

Draft chapters are available from the Book page.

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