Wednesday, February 10, 2016

601: The Individual is born...

I thought it might be helpful to put all we have discussed so far in a diagram. 

It recapitulates nicely all we have said about the concept of the individual as it developed in Europe.

Just look at it closely….it is quite a picture….

In fact it is a rather unique picture. Nowhere in the world has developed such a view of man except in Europe.

The ultimate conclusion of this individual  could be, that he is all alone in the universe and has to discover why he exists all by himself.

So let’s turn our attention to Jean-Paul Sartre (1905 -1980). He argues that mankind is abandoned in the world. 

This is not to say mankind has been abandoned in the sense of 'left behind' or 'neglected' by something or someone.

For Sartre there is nothing "out there" that could have abandoned us in this way. Rather, mankind is abandoned because there is no God to give human life purpose or moral direction.

Sartre's adoption of the notion of abandonment is the clearest possible expression of his profound atheism, his view that mankind is a cosmic accident and not the product of some higher design on the part of God or gods.

This conclusion brings us to the quintessence of Sartre's existentialism. As the human being is uncreated the idea or essence of each person does not precede his existence. Thence existence precedes essence.

With this maxim Sartre wants to say that the human being first exists without goal or definition and finds himself in the world. As a reaction on this awareness he defines the meaning of his existence.

This is the very opposite of philosophical idealism which we already find with Plato and Aristoteles. For Sartre it is not ideas, essences or minds that are primary but pure existence in the form of Being-IN-itself.

Being-IN-itself, like a stone just IS, does not depend on anything else for its being, whereas Being-FOR-itself, the basis of consciousness and ideas, arises through the negation of Being-IN-itself.

Sartre places negation at the centre of his ontological theory of consciousness, his theory of Being-FOR-itself. 

In "Being and Nothingness" he argues that the only kind of being that can exist as a relation to reality or the world is a being that is, in itself, nothing, the negation of Being-IN-itself.

This may sound pretty abstract and you may wonder what he means by this. Let me try to explain. We are in the world in two ways. 

On the one hand we are a material object, a body and as such we exist in the same way a stone exists.

Consciousness, however, makes us aware of our Being and is as such the negation of our Being-IN-itself. We become without purpose or design a Being-FOR-itself. Impossible to be in the world like a stone is.

The designer of the meaning of our live are we ourselves. We create ourselves by making choices, groundless choices, but we have to choose for even not choosing is a choice.

Sartre's general claim is that ultimately choice is always and unavoidably based upon arbitrary decisions. 

His view is that if a choice could be guided and influenced in any way by beliefs, convictions or values, it would be a caused phenomenon rather than a genuinely free choice.

In the novels of Sartre we meet the ultimate individual, an unknown concept to many people on this earth. What to think of this situation ???

Thank you for your  attention…the floor is yours…

The Discussion

The Discussion

[13:21] herman Bergson smiles
[13:21] herman Bergson: not a easy one today I guess :-)
[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): a bit tricky but i think I get it some
[13:22] herman Bergson: Bsic idea is that you define yourself, design your own existence.....
[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): the idea that we have a purpose is our own idea sort of if i get his ideas right
[13:22] herman Bergson: there si no karma or fate or things like that for you...
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): since we are not created for a specific purpose but just happen to be here
[13:23] herman Bergson: Indeed define your own purpose in life
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): Me myself decide my interests for ex, part of it might be genetic what you are interested in however
[13:24] herman Bergson: IN a way we are a being -IN - itself...we are just there...
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cause I’ve even since little been very technically interested for x
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ex
[13:24] herman Bergson: But our ocnsciousness tells us THAT we are there....a next step which never happens to a stone...
[13:25] CB Axel: Lucky stone
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[13:25] Uli Helendale: Does Sartre discuss an existential crisis? Where we come to the understanding that we have no meaning?
[13:25] Areyn Laurasia: seems like such a cold detached sterile existence
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we have a meaning and that is to discover how everything else work, with machines like LHC and spaceships
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:26] herman Bergson: Yes CB..we would LOVE to be just a stone on this earth.....escaping our responsibility to choose
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I mean we have a built in curiosity drive
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): the urge to discover
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): at least most of us have
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): least
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): including me
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and to experiment
[13:27] herman Bergson: What is an existential crisis Uli?
[13:27] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): why Bejiita?
[13:27] Uli Helendale: The point at which we face the notion that there is nothing, no god or other force who can provide us with meaning.
[13:28] herman Bergson: Isn't is philosophical interesting that you call suhan observation a crisis?
[13:28] herman Bergson: isnt that begging the question?
[13:28] herman Bergson: But your remark is very interesting...
[13:29] Uli Helendale: I think I make the distinction because it is a crisis for some. Maybe not for all, anymore.
[13:29] Areyn Laurasia: like the look in the eyes of someone on their deathbed
[13:29] herman Bergson: Yes I agree Uli...
[13:29] Uli Helendale: (I see it as a wonderful opportunity)
[13:30] Areyn Laurasia: an empowering opportunity :)
[13:30] herman Bergson: Bu tit is a crisis for those who believe in  whatever ....which defines their lives
[13:30] Uli Helendale: Yes.
[13:31] herman Bergson: We defined the individual.....
[13:31] herman Bergson: I think it is an amazing fact...
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:32] herman Bergson: Sartre took everything away from the individual...reduced it to a Cartesian ERGO SUM...
[13:32] herman Bergson: Just look arounfd in this world....
[13:32] herman Bergson: this kind of thinking is a Western product only....
[13:33] herman Bergson: bu tthe consequence of this "product" is that we have medicines, physics, psychology, and whatever sciences there are to understand our existence
[13:34] Areyn Laurasia: which level of the individual are we looking at? who you think you are? who you are based on how you appear? or who others think you are?
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): all of it I guess
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but we define ourselves, no one else, no god or whatever
[13:34] herman Bergson: I think that is a psychological question Areyn....
[13:34] Uli Helendale: Are you contrasting the Western individual to an idea of the individual as in relation to others, to nature, etc.?
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): there is thus nothing as fate
[13:35] Uli Helendale: A more communal individual?
[13:35] herman Bergson: yes yes Uli...I am contrasting our concept of  "the individual" to any other culture on this earth
[13:36] herman Bergson: and this from a Darwinian point of view...where is our chance of survival...
[13:36] herman Bergson: for Islam????
[13:36] herman Bergson: just to name a popular subject :-)
[13:37] Uli Helendale: hmmm, that makes me wonder about your conclusion that the Western individual is a scientific individual. More communal cultures may not focus on science as much but certainly have meaningful ways of thinking about things that don't align with our Western understanding.
[13:38] herman Bergson: that doesn’t answer the question of survival...
[13:38] herman Bergson: better medicines offer better chances....
[13:38] herman Bergson: not better meaningful ways of thinking
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and u need science to make medicine
[13:39] herman Bergson: my point bejiita...
[13:39] herman Bergson: so you need a scientific analysis of reality
[13:39] Uli Helendale: Communal cultures, or those that come from "developing" countries, often have medicinal treatments that work for them. Also, their way of living harmoniously with nature provides for a sustainable approach to living on this planet.
[13:39] Uli Helendale: But yes, I understand what you're saying. :)
[13:40] Areyn Laurasia: if the western individual is a scientific individual, why then the illogical choice?
[13:40] herman Bergson: which illogical choice Areyn?
[13:42] herman Bergson: which illogical....:-)
[13:42] Areyn Laurasia: a few years back, the west did nothing with Syria, today, they are throwing billions and helpless under the deluge of refugees and more fearful and hateful sentiments in the western society
[13:42] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): (sneaks out to turn in, too tired, enjoy everyone)
[13:42] herman Bergson: ahh...
[13:42] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): welterusten Chantal
[13:42] herman Bergson: keep in mind one thing....
[13:43] herman Bergson: it is common practice to compare the human brain to a computer....
[13:43] herman Bergson: there is no greater nonsense than that...
[13:43] Uli Helendale: I have to go as well, but thank you. I'll come to another of these discussions. :)
[13:43] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): bye Uli
[13:43] herman Bergson: a computer is a completely predictable determinate machine..our brain isn’t at all..
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): A computer can not feel, its just switches dumbly following whatever is fed to it
[13:44] herman Bergson: our brain is a mass of conflicting processes...
[13:44] herman Bergson: one process we call rationality...the prefrontal lobe at work....
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): all a computer can sense is voltage or no voltage 1 and 0 no matter what it is doing
[13:45] herman Bergson: bu tthat is just a part of our brain....we are much more complex...
[13:45] herman Bergson: so we are able to create chaos
[13:45] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): isn't the whole universe chaos?
[13:46] Areyn Laurasia: entropy? :)
[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): a computer can't create chaos as even a random number generator have to be based on definite math for a computer to be able to process
[13:46] herman Bergson: I donn't know Beertje :-)
[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true chaos cant be described wit a formula, its just everything messed up
[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): divided evenly
[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): all over
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): blended
[13:47] herman Bergson: And if it was...I dont mind ...all here seems pretty  organised :-)
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I like controlled chaos and that i guess you could use a computer for
[13:47] herman Bergson: Bejiita's particles are in chaos now Beertje!
[13:47] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): smiles
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed they are since the machines are still off
[13:48] herman Bergson: The it i better to end this chaos for today, dear friends :-)
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but lot of data to go through still
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): this was something to think about anyway
[13:48] Areyn Laurasia: that's one way to put it into order :)
[13:48] herman Bergson: So thank you all for your participation again....Class dismissed....
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu next time
[13:49] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.
[[13:49] herman Bergson: My pleasure CB :-)
[13:49] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): great lecture Herman, thank you
[13:49] CB Axel: Much to think about.

[13:49] Areyn Laurasia: indeed