Social philosophy oscillates between two opposing ideas: that individuals fashion society, and that society fashions individuals. The concept of ‘situation’ was elaborated by the French existentialist thinkers to avoid this dilemma. Individuals are seen as actively situating themselves in society at the same time as being situated by it. This book, first published in 1990, traces the development of the concept of situation through the work of Gabriel Marcel, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. It shows how it illuminates questions of self or subjectivity, embodiment and gender, society and history, and argues that it goes far beyond the currently fashionable notions of the ‘death of the subject’.
Table of Contents
1. Marcel: Embodiment and Situation 2. Sartre: Individual Constitution of Situation 3. Beauvoir: the Weight of Situation 4. Merleau-Ponty: Situation and Social World 5. Sartre: Praxis in Situation