Critique of Dialectical Reason, Vol. 2

Critique of Dialectical Reason, Vol. 2:The Intelligibility of History

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Volume Two of Sartre’s intellectual masterpiece, introduced by Fredric Jameson

Does history produce discernible meaning? Are human struggles intelligible? These questions form the starting-point for the second volume of Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason. Drafted in 1958 and published in France in 1985, this magisterial work first appeared in English in 1991 and now reappears with a major new introduction by Fredric Jameson.
Volume Two’s theoretical framework is a logical extension of the predecessor’s. As in Volume One, Sartre proceeds by moving from the simple to the complex: from individual combat (through a perceptive study of boxing) to the struggle of subgroups within an organized group form and, finally, to social struggle, with an extended analysis of the Bolshevik Revolution. The book concludes with a forceful reaffirmation of dialectical reason: of the dialectic as ‘that which is truly irreducible in action’.


  • This work is a landmark in modern social thought ... a turning point in the thinking of our time.

    Raymond Williams
  • The Critique is essential to any serious understanding of Sartre.

    George Steiner
  • Of all the published posthumous works, Volume Two of the Critique of Dialectical Reason most strongly shows why Sartre is alive to us today ... Unique among this century’s great writers, Sartre—especially in his Critique II—points towards understandings and actions which may possibly return the world to its creators and so let there be a future.

    Ronald Aronson