By Finn Bowring
A finished and scholarly exploration of the private and philosophical origins of André Gorz's paintings, this publication incorporates a certain research of his early untranslated texts, in addition to serious dialogue of his dating to the paintings of Husserl, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Marx and Habermas. Reassessing pivotal notions reminiscent of the 'lifeworld' and the 'subject', it argues that Gorz has pioneered a person-centred social concept during which the rationale and that means of social critique is firmly rooted in people's lived adventure.
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Extra resources for André Gorz and the Sartrean Legacy: Arguments for a Person-Centred Social Theory
But the first interpretation of the formula destroys itself: to be conscious of something is to be confronted with a concrete and full presence which is not consciousness. (1956: lx) Whereas for Husserl the pure consciousness that is the transcendental ego ‘is essentially independent of all Being of the type of a world or Nature, and it has no need of these for its existence’ (Husserl 1931: 156-7), Sartre boldly asserts ‘the ontological primacy of the initself over the for-itself’ arguing in opposition to Husserl that it is ‘the in-itself [which] has no need of the for-itself in order to be’ (Sartre 1956: 619, 622).
Thus the value aimed at by a thirsty consciousness, to take one of Sartre’s few examples, is not the elimination of thirst but rather an ‘eternal thirst’ synthesised with the eternal pleasure of quenching itself. Realising this perfect, atemporal synthesis of for-itself and in-itself, where freedom has abolished itself as lack but preserved itself as desire and transcendence, is of course impossible. But this ‘desire to be’ remains ‘the meaning and the beyond of all surpassing’. Hence ‘the for-itself in its being is failure’ (1956: 89).
1956: 39) This freedom, we should add, is not a property of consciousness, but is the very being of consciousness. In Being and Nothingness Sartre defines this being as ‘for-itself’, a term which derives from Hegel and which signifies for Sartre the way consciousness cannot exist as an undifferentiated unity but is compelled to remain at a distance from Sartre and the Existential Subject 19 itself, ‘to be itself in the form of presence to itself’. The for-itself is, for Sartre, ‘a being which perpetually effects in itself a break in being’.
André Gorz and the Sartrean Legacy: Arguments for a Person-Centred Social Theory by Finn Bowring