Sunday, May 10, 2009

73c Jean-Paul Sartre, another lecture on him

No Camus as promissed. I couldn't resist the temptation to spend more attention to Sartre. And I can give a motivation. In last lecture I mentioned the concept of 'bad faith', just like that without explaining what it means.

Besides that, Sartre has written many novels in which the characters behaved according or contrary to the existentialist maxim. So it it makes these novels much more interesting to read, when you know the deeper thoughts behind it, when you can test these characters on their existential purety.

An other thing that made me think was a remark of Itsme, who refered to Sartre's description of the waiter in respect to bad faith. I just had that split second thought," I know Itsme, but most of us dont know what is the beauty in this description."

So let's elaborate on a few fundamental concepts of Sartre, which you definitely will recognize in the characters in his novels. The important ones are authenticity and bad faith. Either you are authentic or you act in bad faith.

What is authenticity? To begin with it is the antithesis of bad faith. It is a deliberate and sustained project in which a person affirms his freedom and takes full responsability without regret for his past, for his present situation and for his actions within that situation.

That is , he takes full responsablily for his Being-in-situation. Authenticity invovles a person recognizing and valueing the fact that he must continually choose what he is without ever being able to become what he is once and for all.

An authentic person accepts freedom, responsability, and mortality as the inescapable existential truths of the human condition. He strives to live his life affirming these truths rather than denying them through various projects of bad faith.

But then, what is bad faith? Well....inauthenticity! The choice not to choose misrepresented as an inability to choose. A project in which a person refuses to take responsability for his actions and the situation he finds himself in, his Being-in-situation.

Here we have to introduce two more fundamental concepts used by Sartre: facticity and transcendence.

Then we can say, that bad faith can manifest itself in many different ways but at heart at all projects of bad faith involve a person attempting to invert or seperate his facticity and his transcendence.

Now what does this mean when you read one of Sartre's novels. What are these people trying to do. Transcendence means (and philosophers of those days loved the word) being outside or beyond.

To Sartre it is the essential charactristic of our Being-for-ourself. It means that we can look at a distance at ourselves and judge our actions. We are, so to speak outside and beyong our real situation.

And that facticity? What is that? It is the resitance or adversity presented by the world that free action constantly strives to overcome. It is the concrete situation of being-for-itself, including the physical body, in terms of which being-for-itself must choose itself by choosing its responses. In other words, it is you in the world having to choose......and in the transcendence you can look down at yourself acting.

That is the situation in which Sartre's personages live in his novels. And Itsme's waiter? Well. you wil be served by him when you have the audacity of reading "Being and Nothingness".

There Sartre describes the behavior of a waiter. And he concludes that the waiter is playing to be a waiter, that he is in bad faith for striving, through his performance, to deny his transcendence (the what am I doing here question).

He overacts his role as waiter in order to convince himself and others that he is a waiter-thing. A Bening-in-itself, a kind of being that can nor has to choose,but just is as it is. As a waiter-thing he would escape his freedom and indeterminacy and the anxiety they cause him.

You really should read one of Sartre's novels and you may recognize all these characteristics in it and than ask yourself: am I authentic? This the perspective from which I go to re-read "Roads of Freedom" in my vacation......

The Discussion

[13:27] Alarice Beaumont: Which novel would you recommend for a beginner?
[13:28] Herman Vos: This was the final lecture on Sartre..:-)
[13:28] Ap4ch3 Xingjian: where are you going on holiday? :)
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: the same island??
[13:29] hope63 Shepherd: ty herman.. doesn't change anything but makes the connection of my today life to sartre what you said.. and by the way.. from sartre i went right to jack kerouac on the road...:)
[13:29] Herman Vos: Well..I cant tell you more than I have La Nausée is the first one and Roads to Freedom (three volumes) is a definite seconds one
[13:30] Vladimir Apparatchik: What do you think Sartre's legacy has been herman?
[13:30] hope63 Shepherd: the flies could be useful for those who know about greek mythology..
[13:31] Mickorod Renard: I read jack kerouak as u suggested hope,,interesting
[13:31] Herman Vos: Yes Hope..the plays he wrote are also very good
[13:31] Herman Vos: Huis close...l'enfer c'est l'autre
[13:31] hope63 Shepherd: i think there is a direct connection to the sartre thoughts..
[13:32] Herman Vos: Satre's legacy....
[13:32] Herman Vos: Well I dont is a matter of generations...I grew up with him..
[13:33] arabella Ella: I really enjoyed reading the flies some years back
[13:33] Herman Vos: but kids of today? idea...though they certainly have the same existential questions and looking for answers just like I did when I was young
[13:33] arabella Ella: but i would love to read his plays like end game ... is it his?
[13:34] Vladimir Apparatchik: I wonder whether , contrary to what he would have wanted, that it led to the me-generation and individualism of the 1980s and beyond?
[13:34] Herman Vos: Was that Sartre's influence, Vladimir..
[13:35] Samuel Okelly: herman im unsure as to how a person can actively "choose what he is"? surely there would only be acceptance or denial?
[13:35] Vladimir Apparatchik: I don't know , I was just wondering if it had an influence
[13:36] Herman Vos: In the opinion of Sartre a person is just the sum of his choices
[13:37] Herman Vos: and the consequences of his choices
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: I think we dont choose what we are but do choose who we are
[13:38] Herman Vos: That is just a psychological difference Aristotle...we choose...always
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: and that choice is continuous
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: man is condemned to be free
[13:38] Samuel Okelly: if the person is a consequential result of choices, wouldnt that negate any idea of choice?
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: we had no choice in our being but can choose the best best path for our being
[13:39] Herman Vos: Before there is the result of a choice there first has to be the choosing Samuel
[13:39] Mickorod Renard: hi rod
[13:39] Alarice Beaumont: you don't know if you chose the best path, Ari
[13:39] Rodney Handrick: Hi Mick
[13:39] Alarice Beaumont: you just chose in a specific moment what you think could be the best
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: yes,, Alarice we can only depend on our best judgement
[13:40] Mickorod Renard: I think it can be tested
[13:40] Mickorod Renard: in your own conscience
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: oh pain and pleasure are the tests
[13:40] Herman Vos: We didnt chose our existence indeed Aristotle...that was just the result of the choices of others
[13:41] AristotleVon Doobie: yes, a long line of choices
[13:41] AristotleVon Doobie: to get us where we are today
[13:41] Alarice Beaumont: lol
[13:41] Herman Vos: yes and the big question might be: who made that BIG mistake..(^_^)
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: :))), yes to blame or contratulate?
[13:42] Osrum Sands: Mistake ???
[13:42] arabella Ella: i think Sartre is talking of choices which each of us make each day ... where we either chose to act according to high personal standards or to go with the flow of things
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: congratulate
[13:42] Herman Vos: Yes Arabella...I am so in doubt about the answer
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: at this very moment we are hacking away at the path are choosing
[13:43] arabella Ella: it is not an easy answer herman as we live in a world with constraints from both circumstances and others who may be more powerful than we are
[13:43] Herman Vos: To Sartre our existence is a cosmic accident..
[13:43] hope63 Shepherd: sartre though had his own ideas about the standards:)
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: I can see that
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: we can navigate through that cosmos as best as we can
[13:45] arabella Ella: Sartre's ideas about our standards was pretty idealistic and not one that everyone can aim for ... but the beauty is that he raises questions, as herman said, that young people today still raise, about existence, why are we here? what is the point of our existence?
[13:45] Herman Vos: yes..and the biggest blow would come from meeting a real extraterrestrial intelligence...also with a philosophy
[13:45] hope63 Shepherd: evading the question what is absolutely right or wrong by using his own understanding of right or wrong.. though he was consequent when going to stammheim..
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: LOL maybe get some alien wisdom
[13:45] arabella Ella: i think we must keep in mind the fact that sartre had power and influence ... not everyone but only few have those
[13:46] hope63 Shepherd: herman.. the biggest blow would come from meeting terrestrial wisdom.. lol
[13:46] Osrum Sands: We all have power and influence ... it might be limited but we still have it
[[13:47] Mickorod Renard: who is likely to make the judgement?
[13:47] hope63 Shepherd: we have brain.. but power is relative.. any malicious bactry or virus has more power than we have.. living organisms like us..
[13:47] arabella Ella: Osrum how much power and influence do we have when faced with a nasty boss at work and when we know we may have two or three kids to support and cannot affod to lose our job?
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: oh dear
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: none!!!!!
[13:48] arabella Ella: how much power and influence do the poor or the homeless have?
[13:48] arabella Ella: or people who are illiterate?
[13:48] Osrum Sands: You still have power but are you prepared for the consequences of the decision
[13:48] arabella Ella: sorry Gemma ... hope this did not offend you?
[13:48] arabella Ella: Osrum there are caseswhen there is no possibility of authentic choice
[13:48] hope63 Shepherd: a philosopher would think off the world, arabella,.not a species.. unless you consider humans as superspecies..
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: I suspect that power is fundamentally a choice
[13:49] Rodney Handrick: I agree Ari
[13:49] Osrum Sands: we will need to agree to disagree there Arabella
[13:49] Samuel Okelly agrees with Aris
[13:49] Herman Vos: Well..I agree..Sartre' s idea that we make our lives by our choices, was kind of luxury idea...
[13:49] Ophelia Honi: There is always personal power in how we choose to view events. We often cannot control what happens to us, but we always control how we react to said events.
[13:50] hope63 Shepherd: power is the result of a social pattern aquired through the ages.... fitting the species..
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: well, yes Ophelia, we mus navigate around 'others' and 'nature'
[13:50] Rodney Handrick: The reality is ...birth and death are the it is choices
[13:50] hope63 Shepherd: and called don't have to think to have power..
[13:50] arabella Ella: well i think we can bring in an italian philosopher here, gramsci, not many are familiar with his prison diaries ... he claims that we always remain free in our minds, with out thoughts, regardless of how contrained we are otherwise
[13:50] Osrum Sands: human agency has power ... but often we are convinced to give it to another
[13:50] Mickorod Renard: surely if we are egotistical we will think we are right anyway
[13:51] Herman Vos: very true Rodney..we just have to make the best of the inbetween..:-)
[13:51] Osrum Sands: we use our power to defer to another
[13:52] Vladimir Apparatchik: Ah Gramsci - I've always liked his line "pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will"
[13:52] arabella Ella: yes Vlad, it is nice to see someone here has heard of Gramsci
[13:52] Herman Vos: I like that Vladimir
[13:52] Rodney Handrick: Me too Vlad
[13:53] Herman Vos: that makes sense..
[[13:53] hope63 Shepherd: dream dream dream all i have to do is dream of a free mind..
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: are you singing Hope?
[13:53] Herman Vos: Well..
[13:53] hope63 Shepherd: you know the song? lol
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: have to leave as usual ty and see you all thurrsday i think
[13:53] arabella Ella: Hope is being both interesting and ironical i think
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: lol
[13:54] arabella Ella: bye gemma
[13:54] Ophelia Honi: Jean-Dominique Bauby, suffering "locked-in" syndrome, beautifully demostrated gramsci's belief creating a marvolous world in his mind.
[13:54] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Gem
[13:54] Mickorod Renard: bye gemma
[13:54] Alarice Beaumont: c u Gemma
[13:54] hope63 Shepherd: das Ding an sich? ara? lol
[13:54] arabella Ella: wow interesting Ophelia
[13:54] Herman Vos: I think this introduction has given you enough clues to read Sartre's novels and understand the characters of his personages
[13:54] Ophelia Honi: Bye Gemma
[13:54] arabella Ella: Hope .... u r .... i dunno ... lol
[13:55] Herman Vos: hopeless
[13:55] arabella Ella: but hope you seem to be well informed not that it is up to me to judge
[13:55] Vladimir Apparatchik: Ophelia - not heard of this - have you got a reference?
[13:55] hope63 Shepherd: if i may say so herman.. i think NOT to read sartre is like closing ones eyes to today's thoughts ..
[13:55] arabella Ella: yes that would be useful
[13:55] AristotleVon Doobie: from the talk of Sartre's populartity, would you consider him charismatic, Herman?
[13:55] arabella Ella: a reference i mean
[13:56] arabella Ella: romanticised but in reality nasty Ari I think
[13:56] Herman Vos: Vey true Arabella
[13:56] Ophelia Honi: Bauby wrote his memoir "Le scaphandre et le papillon" or in English "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", also now a film.
[13:56] Herman Vos: Read his novels..not him as a person
[13:56] AristotleVon Doobie: a dual personality then?
[13:56] Vladimir Apparatchik: I won't start on his personality agian :)
[13:57] Ophelia Honi nods to herman
[13:57] Vladimir Apparatchik: ah yes - there was a film recently - thanks Ophelia
[13:57] arabella Ella: not a dual personality, Ari, more like a slightly mistaken projection of his personality
[13:57] arabella Ella: or perception rather than projection of his personality
[13:57] AristotleVon Doobie: hhmm, because charisma can promote interest in ones ideas
[13:58] Herman Vos: he wa sjust as human as we all
[13:58] Ophelia Honi: The book is better of course Vladimir, and quite short and beautifully written.
[13:58] Vladimir Apparatchik: OK - i'll get that
[13:58] Alarice Beaumont: only if a person has charisma he can move people... i think
[13:58] Osrum Sands: or a gun
[13:58] AristotleVon Doobie: yes, Alarice I agree
[13:58] Herman Vos: lol..Osrum..
[13:58] arabella Ella: yes i was going to say again ... power and influence
[13:58] Ophelia Honi nods "difficult without"
[13:59] arabella Ella: not that you all agree of course ;)
[13:59] AristotleVon Doobie: but you can not change minds with a gun, Os
[13:59] Osrum Sands: true
[13:59] Vladimir Apparatchik: what did Stalin say about the Pope? how many Battalions has he got?
[13:59] Herman Vos: you can remove them tho
[13:59] Ophelia Honi: True true, only compliance is achived.
[13:59] AristotleVon Doobie: yes Herman, you are right, unfortunately
[14:00] Herman Vos: Well..I think we can conclude our debate ....
[14:00] AristotleVon Doobie: thank you Herman
[14:00] Samuel Okelly: many thanks again herman :) tc every1 :)
[14:00] Ophelia Honi: Thank you Herman :)
[14:00] Mickorod Renard: thanks Herman
[14:00] Darks Adria is Online
[14:00] Vladimir Apparatchik: Thank you Herman - I might even re-read Sartre again on my holiday
[14:00] Herman Vos: not by removing all minds present with a gun, but advising them to read some novel written by Sartre
[14:00] arabella Ella: thank you so much herman for another very interesting lecture, i am so pleased you went back to Sartre again today
[14:00] Alarice Beaumont: Thanks herman
[14:01] Alarice Beaumont: yes.. that was a very good idea Herman :-)
[14:01] Mickorod Renard: wish I had more time to read all these books on everyone
[14:01] Herman Vos: I did it for you arabella..really.for you asked for it
[14:01] AristotleVon Doobie: yes MIck time is a preicious thing
[14:01] Vladimir Apparatchik: I read him as a teenager as well , it'll be interesting how he reads now
[14:01] arabella Ella: thank you so much, herman, really appreciated
[14:01] Herman Vos: my pleasure...:-)
[14:02] Herman Vos: and I did it because so much was unsaid...
[14:02] arabella Ella: yes you filled in the gaps so nicely today it feels much more complete now and brings back memories of when i learnt about sartre some time ago
[14:02] Osrum Sands: in the end we all to often never have enough time to do what we want
[14:02] Herman Vos: So, thank you all again for being here and participating in such a good discussion
[14:02] Mickorod Renard: wish i hadnt spent so much life reading rubbish
[14:03] Herman Vos: you stil have a life Mickorod..:-)
[14:03] AristotleVon Doobie: yes, Os and there is the choice again to use our measure of time wisely as possible
[14:03] Vladimir Apparatchik: Osrum - that is much better than being bored with life
[14:03] Osrum Sands: definitely Aris and Vlad
[14:04] Herman Vos: Class dismissed...(^_^)

Posted by herman_bergson on 2008-06-04 04:02:37

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