A Commentary on Jean-Paul Satre's Critique of Dialectical by Joseph S. Catalano

By Joseph S. Catalano

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In order to teach philosophy, Sartre had taken the formal training for the agrege, and he had read Capital as early as 1 927 ; he had also spent a year in B erlin reading Husserl in German , and he read Heidegger soon after. He must have read Hegel in the original at least prior to writing his Being and Nothingness, because in that work Sartre fre­ quently arrives at his own position by first examining the views of Hegel and Heidegger. But, for Sartre , there was th� important distinction between aca­ demic reading and the reading that changed his thinking and his life .

There is the " philosophy of M arx " in its concrete relation to nineteenth-century Western civilization ; there is the " dead Marxism" of the official Communist party, which continues to apply Marx's ph ilosophy as if it were a system of a priori principles that merely needs to be adjusted to contemporary society ; and finally there is a "living Marxism , " for which Marx 's thought gives merely heuristic principles or guides and of which Sartre sees himself as the only representative . 1 ft Somewhat parallel to these senses of Marxism are three senses of existentialism.

It repre­ sented a betrayal of the very purpose of socialism . This invasion could not have occurred as a mere political error; rather, it was the sign of a basic aliena­ tion of the Party from the people . Stalinism was itself an unstable state that demanded its condemnation , if civil war was not to break out . But, at the same time , Soviet de-Stalinization was aimed at retaining the Soviet Party, as it was , at all costs : " by making Stalin a devil , they had replaced white masses with black masses and they had not at all gotten out of the cult of personality " ( Ghost, l l O) .

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