Three touches to the skin and one look: Sartre and Beauvoir on desire and embodiment

Penelope Deutscher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Skin is rarely discussed in Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. Encounters he depicts between subjects and others are visual and aural, more than they are tactile. His description of the encounter between torturer and tortured victim includes no description of the victim’s being as hands or instruments of pain lay into his flesh, nor of the torturer in tactile contact with the victim. Instead, the encounter is used to depict the torturer’s vulnerability to being rendered a being-for-others as he becomes aware of the gaze of the victim (Sartre 1966: 525-7). In Nausea, the contact with the world is a repeated example of the horror of the world, our encounter with its brute being and contingency. In Being and Nothingness, tactile encounters with the in-itself (my hand engulfed in honey, for example) are again depicted in negative terms and serve as a metaphor for how the for-itself is threatened with engulfment by the in-itself (Sartre 1966: 775).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThinking Through the Skin
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781134593996
ISBN (Print)0415223563, 9780415223553
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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