Sartre, Imagination and Dialectical Reason
Creating Society as a Work of Art

by Austin Hayden Smidt

There are perpetual debates about the extent of freedom in politics. Are we free to choose? Are we overdetermined by our material conditions? Some hybrid between the two? What is more, how are we to comprehend ourselves as creators of history if freedom itself is a problematic concept? And what would it mean if self-comprehension were foreclosed by this problematic? In this text, Austin Hayden Smidt analyzes an oft-overlooked text by Jean-Paul Sartre in order to ground a logical framework for exploring this paradox.

In Critique of Dialectical Reason, Sartre sought to develop an historical and structural heuristic; one that would enable future theorists and activists alike to assess the pressing problems facing the various milieux of capitalist life. Through this heuristic, his intent was to develop an orientation enabling humans to transform their world in their perpetual creation of themselves (and vice versa).

However, the stylistic difficulties of the text, as well as a general agreement among previous interpreters, has prevented the richness of the investigation from taking root. This book sets a new course, and invites further collaboration as together we create society as a work of art.

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (June 2019) 302 pages