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Sartre on Violence: Not So Ambivalent?

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Abstract:

Sartre's views on violence have been subject to considerable scholarly discussion over the last decade. At the same time, there has been renewed interest in the issue of structural violence. This paper is an attempt to engage with the two debates. I argue that by highlighting structural violence it is possible to reframe our understanding of how Sartre viewed violence and to demonstrate that Sartre's work remains a useful compass with which to orientate ourselves in a world saturated in violence. I contend that Sartre maintained a broadly consistent line on violence that held in tension the world we live in and the possibility of humanity in the world that we may create. In addition to this temporal dimension, Sartre's thinking on violence oscillated between social scales: between the individual and the collective. Awareness of this methodological double-movement helps clarify and contextualise Sartre's views, and facilitates fruitful re-readings of current scholarship on violence.

Keywords: CAPITALISM; LIMITS; SARTRE; STRUCTURAL-VIOLENCE; VIOLENCE

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/ssi.2011.170102

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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