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Sartre, Foucault, and Historical Reason: Toward an Existentialist Theory of History
     

Sartre, Foucault, and Historical Reason: Toward an Existentialist Theory of History

by Thomas R. Flynn
 

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Sartre and Foucault were two of the most prominent and at times mutually antagonistic philosophical figures of the twentieth century. And nowhere are the antithetical natures of their existentialist and poststructuralist philosophies more apparent than in their disparate approaches to historical understanding.

A history, thought Foucault, should be a kind of map,

Overview

Sartre and Foucault were two of the most prominent and at times mutually antagonistic philosophical figures of the twentieth century. And nowhere are the antithetical natures of their existentialist and poststructuralist philosophies more apparent than in their disparate approaches to historical understanding.

A history, thought Foucault, should be a kind of map, a comparative charting of structural transformations and displacements. But for Sartre, authentic historical understanding demanded a much more personal and committed narrative, a kind of interpretive diary of moral choices and risks compelled by critical necessity and an exacting reality. Sartre's history, a rational history of individual lives and their intrinsic social worlds, was in essence immersed in biography.

In Volume One of this authoritative two-volume work, Thomas R. Flynn conducts a pivotal and comprehensive reconstruction of Sartrean historical theory, and provocatively anticipates the Foucauldian counterpoint to come in Volume Two.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Flynn (philosophy, Emory Univ.) details the development of Sartre's theory of history in this first part of a work that requires its latter, as yet unpublished, half to stand as a thoroughgoing comparative study of the titular subject. With insight and clarifying structure, he presents Sartre's theorizing toward history as a value and beyond that to an existentialist theory of history as a dialectic that is aesthetic as well as moral. Only in the final chapter does discussion turn to how Foucault's assessment of the historic event differs from Sartre's: the comparison and contrast between the two theorists' "historical intelligibility" is guided by "Sartrean being-other [and] Foucauldian being-difference." In Volume 2, Foucault's poststructuralist approach should be fully limned, and Flynn's work will stand as a masterful interpretation of 20th-century theory of reason.Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley P.L., Cal.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226254678
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
09/28/1997
Series:
Sartre, Foucault and Reason in History Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
356
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile:
1430L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

Thomas R. Flynn is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Philosophy at Emory University. He is author of Sartre and Marxist Existentialism, published by the University of Chicago Press, and co-editor of Dialectic and Narrative.

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