Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 7, No 1 (2011)

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Becoming L’homme Imaginaire: The Role of The Imagination in Overcoming Cir-cularity in Sartre’s Critique Of Dialectical Reason

Austin Smidt


This article attempts to wed together two supposedly disparate works of Jean-Paul Sartre, The Psychology of the Imagination (1940) and Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960) in order to construct a theory of the imagination that will aid progressive political theory in its pursuit of perpetual ‘mediated reciprocity.’ Often assumed incapable of providing a viable theory of positive intersubjective relations, this article asserts that Sartre’s work does in fact have the resources for such an endeavor. Through the continual creation of ‘images,’ the group-in-fusion is shown to be able to sustain a perpetual project of negating original negation throughout the milieu of scarcity. Although ‘images’ themselves are incapable of creating novelty, they do have use insofar as they are able to reproduce affective impressions that can motivate group praxis, which in turn creates new situations of exigence from which apocalyptic moments might arise. Therefore, by tethering the balance between the real and the imaginary, a novel social theory emerges that is both faithful to the work of Sartre and that also pushes it into new, fruitful directions.

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