Black holes boxing: Sartre on love

Swirski, Zach (2021) Black holes boxing: Sartre on love. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Sartre’s phenomenology of love reads as calloused, narcissistic, and antiquated. He contends that the ideal of love is the ontological unification of the lover and the beloved and because this ideal can never be fulfilled, both theoretically and in practice, love is always destined to devolve into hate. Love is conflict. For this project, I will be looking to critique Sartre, to explore the possibility that love does not necessarily lead to hate, and that a positive love is possible. I will begin, in the first chapter, by doing a brief autopsy on some key components of Sartre’s philosophy. First, his inheritance of Cartesian ontology of consciousness, his rejection of the cogito as the foundation of this ontology, and his use of Husserlian intentionality. The monad of consciousness will come into vision through analysis of the expressions ‘in-itself’ and ‘for-itself’. Sartre owes a debt here to Hegel, both in terminology and in the meaning of the designations of master and slave. However, I will rebuild the idea that Sartre is to be read as some sort of neo-Hegelian in his treatment of the Other and conflict. Consciousness is not mediated at the level of being by the Other, but at the level of identity. The lover – beloved relationship is founded in the look; this is foundational to the perceived conflict of romantic relationships. I will give a full exegesis of Sartre’s chapter in BN on love, where he affirms that love will always devolve into hate. Comparing Deleuze and Guattari’s faciality with Sartre’s look is the focus of my second chapter; these are not two opposite modes of subjectivity, but rather two different speeds of subjectivity. I open a door to a Sartrean-Deleuzeian mode of lover-beloved relationships. The goal now becomes combining Sartre and Deleuze to create a positive romantic interface. This is done through a phenomenological reading of Deleuze’s “Description of Woman”, where he contends that desire fundamentally changes the phenomenological experience of the Other, and the Other does not present an external world, but an internal one. This leads us to conclude that through bringing Sartre and Deleuze together, love is not defined by its failure of unification, but rather through its ability to draw a self and an Other together in experiencing the internal world of each other as a ‘we,’ rather than as two rival ‘I’s’.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 15303
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 68-69).
Keywords: Jean-Paul Sartre, Gilles Deleuze, love, phenomenology, Hegel
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Philosophy
Date: November 2021
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Sartre, Jean-Paul, 1905-1980--Criticism, Textual; Deleuze, Gilles, 1925-1995--Criticism, Textual; Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 1770-1831--Criticism, Textual; Phenomenology; Love--Fiction.

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