Sartre and the Rationalization of Human Sexuality Essay

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Sartre and the Rationalization of Human Sexuality ABSTRACT: Sartre rationalizes sexuality much like Plato. Rationalization here refers to the way Sartre tries to facilitate explanation by changing the terms of the discussion from sexual to nonsexual concepts. As a philosophy which, above all, highlights those features of human existence which seem most resistant to explanation, one would expect existentialism to highlight sexuality as a category that is crucial for considering human existence. Descartes comes immediately to mind when one focuses on Sartre's major categories. In Sartre's case however, it is not mind and matter but consciousness and its opposite: "nothingness" and "being." This irreducible dualism is the key to the…show more content…
All reality is either consciousness or non-conscious being. However, this Cartesianism is qualified by a dialectic derived from Hegel and by Hegelian concepts and explicated through a phenomenological method influenced by Husserl. Yet the net effect of Sartre's picture of sexuality is surprisingly platonic; it is what Plato might be expected to say if he had published his position after World War II. Sartre's philosophy is presented in his major work, Being and Nothingness, subtitled, An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology. (1) Hazel Barnes notes in her introduction that Sartre is one of the few philosophers in the twentieth century to produce a complete philosophical system. This system is presented in Being and Nothingness. The terms in the title refer to the two primary constituents of reality: being, which is non-conscious, and the negation of being, which is the way Sartre conceives of consciousness. This consciousness of being is examined by a method called phenomenological, which suggests that no pretension is being made to uncover the ultimate nature of reality in a "metaphysics," but that Sartre intends to describe as accurately as possible the structures of reality as it appears. The dichotomy of being and nothingness is a new version of platonic and cartesian dualism with several severe qualifications.

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