three things to notice about Sartre’s essay on materialism

by metalogike

  1. He thinks that he has a clear path through the labyrinth of reduction and emergence.
  2. He is mistaken.
  3. The effective target of his disjunctions is not, as he thinks, the mathematicity of dialectic, but, to the contrary, the postulate of organic unity in it, which belongs neither to mathematics nor to ethics (or one could say, less perspicuously, neither to science nor to history). In other words, just because it is possible to have a rigorous idea of an emergence which occurs because of and not despite total reduction, we do not thereby fall into the vulgar dialectical reconciliation of internal and external relations, of nature and history, etc. Why? Because what is authorized thereby is, as appropriate to a form of local emergence, a thought of disjunction, and not of global synthesis. It’s just that the disjunction, to be rigorous, has to be thought from both sides – from the side of the in-itself, from which there is no difference between the in-itself and the for-itself, and from the side of the for-itself, from which there is.