Sartre as a thinker of (Deleuzian) immanence: Prefiguring and complementing the micropolitical

Research paper by Christian Gilliam

Indexed on: 03 Jan '17Published on: 03 Jan '17Published in: Contemporary Political Theory


It is typically held that Sartre is a thinker of transcendence, inasmuch as he retains a subject–predicate structure via intentional consciousness and ruptures an otherwise insular domain through his dialectic of the self. Against such interpretations, this article argues that in following the progression of Sartre’s thought, we will come to see a deepening engagement with, and development of, immanence in the spirit of Deleuze. Specifically, Sartre steadily develops a dialectic in which consciousness, while relating to an ‘outside’, is construed as also thoroughly embedded in that outside through the subject-body of the flesh and relations of desire. From this comes a conceptualisation of the in-itself and for-itself as simulacra or topological variations of a more primordial intertwining or fabric of univocal Being. In this sense, we are immediately taken away from the subject of social contract theory, insofar as this presumes an asocial self, and the notion of identity as the sine qua non of politics, insofar as this presumes the terrain of an inexplicable transcendent Other. This brings with it a take on politics that prefigures and is concomitant with Deleuzian micropolitics, while also serving to complement it through the retention of the ego as a practical function.