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.

YouTube film ‘What Is Existentialism?’ now available

The first of the project’s YouTube films is now available at http://bit.ly/RethinkExistentYouTube

It is based on chapter 1 and forms an introduction to the series of films. It is 20 minutes long and free to use under a Creative Commons license.

The draft of chapter 1 available from the website has also been updated, to reflect progress on the book so far: http://bit.ly/rethinkchapters

Image of film opening screen

The Future of Existentialism: a workshop

The Future of Existentialism
Call For Papers

Submissions are invited for a one-day workshop on existentialism for people considering doing postgraduate research on the theoretical, biographical, or literary works of Beauvoir, Fanon, Sartre or other existentialist thinkers.

Each participant will give a short paper analysing or applying some aspect of existentialism.

Participants should have, or be currently studying towards, a Bachelors or Masters degree in a discipline relevant to their paper. The event will include a session on applying for postgraduate research study in the UK.

Accommodation, meals, and UK travel expenses for all participants will be provided by the workshop, which will be held at Cardiff University. The venue will be fully accessible.

To apply to participate, please send a paper of no more than 3000 words (all inclusive) or a one-page Mumford Method handout (what’s that? – see here). The deadline is strictly 5pm GMT on Friday 4th December 2015.

Papers will be selected by anonymous review. Please ensure that your paper or handout does not include any information that could identify its author. Please give your qualifications in the email itself.

For any enquiries or to apply for a place, please email me.

Psychoanalysis and the Existentialist Mind – draft available

photo of FreudA full draft of chapter 5 is now available to download.

It argues that existentialism is a development of Freudian psychoanalysis, designed to preserve Freud’s insights into behaviour by providing a more explanatory theory of the structure of motivation.

More specifically, it argues that Sartre’s critique of Freud and development of his own theory of mind constitutes an important break with the Cartesian dualism that shapes Freud’s theory of mind, but Sartre retains a part of this Cartesian heritage that Beauvoir’s theory then eliminates.

If you would like to respond, please post in the Comments thread below or send me an email.

Draft chapters are available from the Book page.



Simone de Beauvoir workshop: 25 November 2015

Simone de BeauvoirOne-day workshop on the philosophy of
Simone de Beauvoir.

Aberdare Hall, Cardiff University.
9.30 – 6.00.

Update: There are no more places available at this workshop.


Beauvoir’s Methods of Ethics
Rafe McGregor (Leeds)

Metaphysics, Existentialism and Political Categories in The Second Sex
Stella Sandford (Kingston)

Beauvoir and the Ambiguities of Motherhood
Alison Stone (Lancaster)

Beauvoir on Masculinity: Thinking about the First Sex and Beyond
Ursula Tidd (Manchester)

Beauvoir’s Derivation of the Categorical Imperative
Jonathan Webber (Cardiff)


Workshop and conference recordings now on YouTube

Two talks from the Fanon workshop are now available on YouTube –

Fanon at 90 – Lewis Gordon (Connecticut)

Medicine and Colonialism – Azzedine Haddour (UCL)

This workshop followed on from the UK Sartre Society conference on existentialism, race, and gender. All talks from that conference have been posted online by the UK Sartre Society.

All of these are available through the project YouTube channel.

Fanon workshop poster

Why Xavière Is A Threat To Françoise – draft now available

Simone de BeauvoirA full draft of chapter 4 is now available to download.

It argues that Beauvoir’s 1943 novel She Came To Stay presents her distinctive form of existentialism through a critique of Sartre’s theory of freedom.

Her view is that freedom requires a sedimentation of projects and the values they embody. Without this, there cannot be the commitment required for freedom.

Sartre’s theory of freedom excludes the possibility of this sedimentation. Beauvoir dramatises this disagreement in the relationship between Françoise and Pierre.

If you would like to respond, please post your thoughts in the Comments thread below.

Draft chapters are available from the Book page.

Freedom and the Origins of Reasons – draft now available

image of Maurice Melreau-PontyA full draft of chapter 3 is now available to download.

It argues that Merleau-Ponty’s critique of Sartre’s theory of freedom fails. Merleau-Ponty has succeeded in showing that one of Sartre’s claims about freedom is untenable, but has not shown that this requires the rejection of the entire theory rather than just of that one claim.

In arguing for this, the chapter clarifies Sartre’s theory of freedom in Being and Nothingness and argues that Beauvoir’s defence of Sartre’s theory a decade later indicates that Sartre’s theory had developed over that time.

If you would like to respond, please post your thoughts in the Comments thread below.

Draft chapters are available from the Book page.

Frantz Fanon workshop: 19 September 2015

One-day workshop on the work of Frantz Fanon.

Pearson Lecture Theatre
UCL main entrance
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT

9.30am – 4.00pm

Meena Dhanda
Lewis Gordon
Azzedine Haddour
Jonathan Webber

Free! Just turn up.

Schedule and talk titles will be
announced soon.

This is the day after the UK Sartre Society conference on Existentialism, Race, and Gender, which is also in London.

Event organised in collaboration with Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman , Research Associate in the Philosophy of ‘Race’ at UCL.