Saturday, April 16, 2005
Jean Paul Sartre
I don't think I've seen it mentioned anywhere else, but yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the death of Jean Paul Sartre. Say what you will about his existentialism, he had one of the most sophisticated theories of consciousness around. For Sartre, like Brentano and several other existentialists (most notably Maurice Merleau-Ponty), consciousness was a unitary phenomenon, rather than the the dual-natured beast that it is in contemporary analytic philosophy of mind and cognitive science, particularly neuroscience (where models of consciousness still tend to posit the object of consciousness and an entirely separate component which is comprised of attention, or awareness of that object). Given the problems with the two-part theories of consciousness, I think we'd do well to go back to Sartre (and others with unitary theories), and the 25th anniversary of his death is a good time to start rereading him.