International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy

Journal | Volume | Article


Living in a state of molecular aggregation

Jean-Paul Sartre on reification and massification

Matthias Lievens

pp. 389-416


To act or think like a thing is a theme that runs as a red thread through Sartre’s oeuvre, but it is only in his Critique of Dialectical Reason that he would come to a coherent account of reifcation, which underpins what is perhaps his most seminal achievement in this book, the theory of the series. In contrast to Lukács’ account of reification, which has roots in Marx’s notion of social form, Sartre’s theory draws on diferent theoretical resources, such as the notion of inertia and the exteriorisation of internal relations. It underpins his notion of the mass, which he understands as fundamentally ambivalent: the mass is the product of seriality and reification, it is the subject of steering and manipulation, but it can never be fully controlled. In specifc circumstances its internal dynamic can lead to forms of dereification through the interiorisation of number, which underpins the formation of a group, the agent of collective action.

Publication details

Published in:

Jurga Saulius, Kavoulakos Konstantinos (2021) Reification. Metodo 9 (2).

Pages: 389-416

DOI: 10.19079/metodo.9.2.361

Full citation:

Lievens Matthias (2021) „Living in a state of molecular aggregation: Jean-Paul Sartre on reification and massification“. Metodo 9 (2), 389–416.