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Absential locations and the figureless ground.

Mac Cumhaill, Clare (2018) 'Absential locations and the figureless ground.', Sartre studies international., 24 (1). pp. 34-47.


When Sartre arrives late to meet Pierre at a local establishment, he discovers not merely that Pierre is absent, but also Pierre’s absence, where this depends, or so Sartre notoriously supposes, on a frustrated expectation that Pierre would be seen at that place. Many philosophers have railed against this view, taking it to entail a treatment of the ontology of absence that Richard Gale describes as ‘attitudinal’ – one whereby absences are thought to ontologically depend on psychological attitudes. In this article, I aim to make Sartre’s intuition respectable. What Sartre perceives is an ‘absential location’, only the ‘boundaries’ of which are circumscribed by what Sartre is doing at that place: meeting Pierre. I explain how this Sartrean view, though not specifically attributable to Sartre, nonetheless honours some of the phenomenological data described, if a little opaquely, in Being and Nothingness.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedited version of an article published in Sartre studies international. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Mac Cumhaill, Clare (2018). Absential Locations and the Figureless Ground. Sartre Studies International 24(1): 34-47 is available online at:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:30 October 2020
Date of first online publication:01 June 2018
Date first made open access:11 November 2020

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