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.

Five talks now available on YouTube

The project YouTube playlist now has these five films on it …

1. What Is Existentialism?
2. Why Camus Is Not An Existentialist
3. Freedom and the Structure of Experience
4. Two Varieties of Existentialism
5. Existentialism and Psychoanalysis

They’re around 20-25 minutes long each and summarise the first five chapters of the book. They’re posted with a Creative Commons license, so feel free to share them!

photo of sign that says Keep Off The Grass

Why Inez Is Not In Hell – draft available

photo of doors to 42 rue Bonaparte, Paris at night
A full draft of chapter 6 is now available to download.

It argues for a new interpretation of Sartre’s play Huis Clos (aka No Exit or, better, In Camera).

More specifically, it argues that the usual reading of the play’s characters as three mortals facing an eternity of torturing one another is mistaken, and that the play is rather set at the Last Judgment, with Inez as an undercover prosecutor attempting to bring Garcin and Inez to recognise and regret their basic sin in front of us, the audience, who sit in judgment.

On this interpretation, the play dramatises Sartre’s theory that other people are hell only if we are committed to the project of seeing ourselves as having a particular fixed essence, which is what Sartre sees at this point in his career as the original sin of bad faith.

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

Draft chapters are available from the Book page.

Rethinking Existentialism in Psychotherapy: a conference

Rethinking Existentialism in Psychotherapy
Wednesday 13th January 2016
10.00 – 16.30

Montague Room, Senate House
Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Each session will include presentations followed by general discussion.

Arrival, with tea and coffee

Legacies of Colonialism
Lennox Thomas, psychotherapist and vice-chair of the Refugee Therapy Centre
Jonathan Webber, philosopher at Cardiff University

participants are to make their own arrangements for lunch

Drama and Play
Eva Koumpli, psychodrama psychotherapist
Rebecca Pitt, researcher at The Open University

Tea and coffee

The Lived Body
Katherine Morris, philosopher at Oxford University
Miles Clapham, consultant psychiatrist and Lecturer at the Philadelphia Association

Just £10 for standard registration, £5 for students/unwaged.
Registration is now open.