Sartre: How,Do,We,Get from Nothingness to Freedom

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mikesutton161
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Sartre: How,Do,We,Get from Nothingness to Freedom

Post by mikesutton161 » Mon Jan 05, 2015 6:55 pm

Sartre: How Do We Get from Nothingness to Freedom?

See also:mikesutton161.wordpress.com



Introduction:



There seems to me to be a problem with the interpretation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s use of the words “being” and “nothingness” in his philosophy. Is his idea of being the same as that of Heidegger? While I’m quite sure of the metaphysical aspects of the argument, I’m not sure whether within those aspects Sartre equates nothingness with freedom, or whether the freedom (of action) arises from the nothingness.



This short essay of a solution of the problem.



The Argument:



It seems to me significant that Sartre wrote his novel Nausea in 1938 before he had read Heidegger’s Being and Time (1941) and before he wrote Being and Nothingness (1943). He did, however, study Husserl, and formed his views on the importance of latter’s phenomenology much earlier (1933/4). I suggest the clue to understanding the concepts might lie in a chronological reading of how his ideas developed.



In Nausea, the hero, Roquentin, is fed up with life – it bores him. He has travelled the world, experienced the sights, sounds and sensual experiences that are to be had. He returns to a boring northern French town, based on pre-war Le Havre, to consider his position. Put prosaically, he is facing a career change. He wants to give up his former loose living, free wheeling existence, but doesn’t know what to do instead. Gradually this drives him to such a state that even the mere appearance of simple physical things like tree roots and other people make his feel physically sick. He has difficulty trying to think his way out of this state, but at the end of the book he starts to realise that a jazz record he keeps hearing in a bar makes him feel happy. He starts to wonder at the creativity of the song writer and the musicians, and to consider the possibility of trying to do some creative thinking himself based on the skills and knowledge that he has in his own field (he is a historian).



Roquentin is frightened by his own freedom; afraid of committing himself to a choice. If he chooses one thing, he leaves another unchosen. There are some things he can’t do because he is not equipped to do them. There are others that don’t interest him because he is not familiar with them. Making a choice is not as simple as listing the pros and cons and balancing them off. It needs to accord with one’s whole experience – facticity, in the parlance of existentialists. The factical clutter he has built up by way of intentional contact with objects in the world is restricting his freedom to act, and yet that very facticity is the only thing that he has to go in to make decisions. There is dreadful freedom on the one side and facticity on the other; nothing in between to help.



This is the nothingness – the space between alternatives not taken and factical experience – which Sartre may be referring to in Being and Nothingness. This nothingness has no physical reality, no physiological concomitants. It is purely metaphysical (existential), and not related to anything concrete (essential). The experience we have of it is through living (our existence) not through investigating what material activity might explain it (essentialism), and we experience it first through being alive and living – so its existence precedes its essence.



Sartre takes the idea of objects outside our being having only an intentional connection to us from Husserl, and the idea of facticity and learning from interaction with the ready-to-hand from Heidegger. Heidegger’s Dasein is not corporeal or essential – it consists of ready-to-hand experience, states of mind, guilt about the past, a consciousness of the finite nature of the future, and in particular a sense of falling through the present – all existential properties. Sartre would therefore find his reading of Heidegger in tune with what he what he had been trying to say about the human condition in Nausea, so when he come to write Being and Nothingness he could present the argument the other way round.



It goes something like this:



Consciousness is nothing in the sense that we consist only of a space surrounded by objects which we know from their intentionalities. We are what we do with these objects, and when we have to make choices we have nothing else to turn to but the factical and somewhat random experience we have of them. We are therefore not inclined to act in any particular way except that which facticity tells us, which is really just a matter of contingency or chance. Nothing helps us across the gap, or to make the decision, because there is nothing there. So no wonder we are afraid of freedom, and tend to act inauthentically (go with the crowd).



We are loose in the world, buffeted by events and our past.

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GreatandWiseTrixie
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Re: Sartre: How,Do,We,Get from Nothingness to Freedom

Post by GreatandWiseTrixie » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:02 am

Does a robot have freedom? He is only the sum of his parts.

So too, does a human not have freedom, for his actions are dictated by natural causes.

It does not matter if the man picks jazz, or nothing at all. It does not matter if tree roots drive him mad. He enjoys this suffering imposed upon him by the ignorance of his own mind. And if one day, he discovers his own ignorance, so too will he delight in the suffering of remembering his own folly.

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Re: Sartre: How,Do,We,Get from Nothingness to Freedom

Post by Ginkgo » Mon Feb 09, 2015 5:01 am

mikesutton161 wrote:Sartre: How Do We Get from Nothingness to Freedom?

See also:mikesutton161.wordpress.com



Introduction:



There seems to me to be a problem with the interpretation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s use of the words “being” and “nothingness” in his philosophy. Is his idea of being the same as that of Heidegger? While I’m quite sure of the metaphysical aspects of the argument, I’m not sure whether within those aspects Sartre equates nothingness with freedom, or whether the freedom (of action) arises from the nothingness.



This short essay of a solution of the problem.



The Argument:



It seems to me significant that Sartre wrote his novel Nausea in 1938 before he had read Heidegger’s Being and Time (1941) and before he wrote Being and Nothingness (1943). He did, however, study Husserl, and formed his views on the importance of latter’s phenomenology much earlier (1933/4). I suggest the clue to understanding the concepts might lie in a chronological reading of how his ideas developed.
Yes, a chronological approach is helpful. We could say existentialism has joined up with certain elements of phenomonology.

The basic problem for Heidegger was to discover the nature of being. In the Western tradition, probably starting with Plato, the idea of referencing or categorizing, perhaps even abstracting being from the world has a long history. it is this tradition that is being rejected by existentialists. The important term for Heidegger was Dasein, or "being there". We live in a world that is pre-structured for us. The word is there and we have to function in it whether we like it or not. We are determined by the nature of our environment.
Heidegger's use of the term, "Dasein" doesn't refer to the individual existence that humans have, rather a type of existence humans have.

Heidegger thought that we can become authentic if we turned away from the grind of ordinary life and take a good look at ourselves (to be colloquial). If we did this then we would come to understand the type of inauthentic existence humans have. All we really are is what Heidegger calls, "being-unto-death". On the positive side this can make us realize of our limitations and our responsibilities, but more importantly the realization of our freedom and authenticity. We can establish our own authenticity without the need for any ultimate framework.Freedom for Heidegger is taking responsible for our own history. Dasein is free to act in time and space to make life meaningful in the face of the inevitable death.

I think Sartre is trying to turn the Heidegger's argument for freedom in on itself. The hero moves obliviously through life and he cannot fathom why he is so unhappy. This dissatisfaction makes the hero question himself as to whether he has the proper outlook. However, there is no justification to be found within the structure of society, so he ends up being left in total confusion. He cannot come up with any real justification for his existence. The world he knows so well dissolves into pointlessness- he is left with an inescapable conclusion- his existence in the world.The hero cannot avoid the fact that he is a free agent. He alone is responsible for making sense of the world. Unfortunately, he cannot exist unless he chooses an arbitrary framework.

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Re: Sartre: How,Do,We,Get from Nothingness to Freedom

Post by GreatandWiseTrixie » Mon Feb 09, 2015 3:04 pm

Ginkgo wrote: Yes, a chronological approach is helpful. We could say existentialism has joined up with certain elements of phenomonology.

The basic problem for Heidegger was to discover the nature of being. In the Western tradition, probably starting with Plato, the idea of referencing or categorizing, perhaps even abstracting being from the world has a long history. it is this tradition that is being rejected by existentialists. The important term for Heidegger was Dasein, or "being there". We live in a world that is pre-structured for us. The word is there and we have to function in it whether we like it or not. We are determined by the nature of our environment.
Heidegger's use of the term, "Dasein" doesn't refer to the individual existence that humans have, rather a type of existence humans have.

Heidegger thought that we can become authentic if we turned away from the grind of ordinary life and take a good look at ourselves (to be colloquial). If we did this then we would come to understand the type of inauthentic existence humans have. All we really are is what Heidegger calls, "being-unto-death". On the positive side this can make us realize of our limitations and our responsibilities, but more importantly the realization of our freedom and authenticity. We can establish our own authenticity without the need for any ultimate framework.Freedom for Heidegger is taking responsible for our own history. Dasein is free to act in time and space to make life meaningful in the face of the inevitable death.

I think Sartre is trying to turn the Heidegger's argument for freedom in on itself. The hero moves obliviously through life and he cannot fathom why he is so unhappy. This dissatisfaction makes the hero question himself as to whether he has the proper outlook. However, there is no justification to be found within the structure of society, so he ends up being left in total confusion. He cannot come up with any real justification for his existence. The world he knows so well dissolves into pointlessness- he is left with an inescapable conclusion- his existence in the world.The hero cannot avoid the fact that he is a free agent. He alone is responsible for making sense of the world. Unfortunately, he cannot exist unless he chooses an arbitrary framework.
Please stop using the word "choose", humans don't choose anything, they are robots. You hear the arguments of different thought patterns in your head, one emerges more dominant than the other, and thus a "choice" is made, when really it is not.

mikesutton161
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Re: Sartre: How Do We Get from Nothingness to Freedom

Post by mikesutton161 » Mon Feb 09, 2015 4:56 pm

Re comments by GreatandWiseTrixie:
I'm inclined to think that Sartre sees choice as a hierarchical and somewhat random shuffling of factical experience. Hence my reference in the text to facticity (much the same as your "natural causes"). Whether you call such an arbitrary process "choice" is a matter of language. I'm less certain that Sartre's hero enjoys his suffering. It's more that he can't avoid it.

Re comments by Gingko:
The same sort of argument applies, I think. It all turns on the problems of facticity. Heidegger wants "resoluteness" and "authenticity". Sartre settles uneasily for what you call an "arbitrary framework". But you are right about Heidegger's view of Dasein as a type of existence rather than individual existence. This is a difference between Heidegger and Sartre that I hadn't appreciated hitherto.

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Re: Sartre: How Do We Get from Nothingness to Freedom

Post by GreatandWiseTrixie » Mon Feb 09, 2015 7:05 pm

mikesutton161 wrote:Re comments by GreatandWiseTrixie:
I'm less certain that Sartre's hero enjoys his suffering. It's more that he can't avoid it.
Maybe so, but who I was really alluding to, was the modern man. For he will say to you that he loves his suffering (his life) more than almost anything in the world.

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Re: Sartre: How,Do,We,Get from Nothingness to Freedom

Post by Ginkgo » Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:25 pm

GreatandWiseTrixie wrote:
Ginkgo wrote: Yes, a chronological approach is helpful. We could say existentialism has joined up with certain elements of phenomonology.

The basic problem for Heidegger was to discover the nature of being. In the Western tradition, probably starting with Plato, the idea of referencing or categorizing, perhaps even abstracting being from the world has a long history. it is this tradition that is being rejected by existentialists. The important term for Heidegger was Dasein, or "being there". We live in a world that is pre-structured for us. The word is there and we have to function in it whether we like it or not. We are determined by the nature of our environment.
Heidegger's use of the term, "Dasein" doesn't refer to the individual existence that humans have, rather a type of existence humans have.

Heidegger thought that we can become authentic if we turned away from the grind of ordinary life and take a good look at ourselves (to be colloquial). If we did this then we would come to understand the type of inauthentic existence humans have. All we really are is what Heidegger calls, "being-unto-death". On the positive side this can make us realize of our limitations and our responsibilities, but more importantly the realization of our freedom and authenticity. We can establish our own authenticity without the need for any ultimate framework.Freedom for Heidegger is taking responsible for our own history. Dasein is free to act in time and space to make life meaningful in the face of the inevitable death.

I think Sartre is trying to turn the Heidegger's argument for freedom in on itself. The hero moves obliviously through life and he cannot fathom why he is so unhappy. This dissatisfaction makes the hero question himself as to whether he has the proper outlook. However, there is no justification to be found within the structure of society, so he ends up being left in total confusion. He cannot come up with any real justification for his existence. The world he knows so well dissolves into pointlessness- he is left with an inescapable conclusion- his existence in the world.The hero cannot avoid the fact that he is a free agent. He alone is responsible for making sense of the world. Unfortunately, he cannot exist unless he chooses an arbitrary framework.
Please stop using the word "choose", humans don't choose anything, they are robots. You hear the arguments of different thought patterns in your head, one emerges more dominant than the other, and thus a "choice" is made, when really it is not.


Not really my words, it comes with territory. Existentialism is basically a philosophy of living. Existentialist philosophies don't necessarily have not a lot in common. However, they do answer in different ways the problem of human existence; they tend to be opposed to the rationalist philosophies. As I pointed out previously existentialism is opposed to the analytical method. In contemporary terms this would be "taking a shot" at logical positivists. So basically, I am saying that freedom is built into the existentialist system even though various philosophers treat it somewhat differently.

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Re: Sartre: How Do We Get from Nothingness to Freedom

Post by Ginkgo » Mon Feb 09, 2015 10:17 pm

mikesutton161 wrote:
Re comments by Gingko:
The same sort of argument applies, I think. It all turns on the problems of facticity. Heidegger wants "resoluteness" and "authenticity". Sartre settles uneasily for what you call an "arbitrary framework". But you are right about Heidegger's view of Dasein as a type of existence rather than individual existence. This is a difference between Heidegger and Sartre that I hadn't appreciated hitherto.
No problem. I have a bit of a grip on Continental philosophy, but nothing that resembles a firm hold.

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Re: Sartre: How,Do,We,Get from Nothingness to Freedom

Post by Breath » Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:51 am

GreatandWiseTrixie wrote:Does a robot have freedom? He is only the sum of his parts.

So too, does a human not have freedom, for his actions are dictated by natural causes.

It does not matter if the man picks jazz, or nothing at all. It does not matter if tree roots drive him mad. He enjoys this suffering imposed upon him by the ignorance of his own mind. And if one day, he discovers his own ignorance, so too will he delight in the suffering of remembering his own folly.
Is a robot the negation of being?

If not, then comparisons between robots and humans are not relevant.

Breath

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Re: Sartre: How,Do,We,Get from Nothingness to Freedom

Post by GreatandWiseTrixie » Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:38 am

Breath wrote:
GreatandWiseTrixie wrote:Does a robot have freedom? He is only the sum of his parts.

So too, does a human not have freedom, for his actions are dictated by natural causes.

It does not matter if the man picks jazz, or nothing at all. It does not matter if tree roots drive him mad. He enjoys this suffering imposed upon him by the ignorance of his own mind. And if one day, he discovers his own ignorance, so too will he delight in the suffering of remembering his own folly.
Is a robot the negation of being?

If not, then comparisons between robots and humans are not relevant.

Breath
NonononononNO. It's quite relevant. And was not about being, if I recall. It was about decision making, and that they, - no YOU are no different than the common made in Japan robobot.

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Re: Sartre: How,Do,We,Get from Nothingness to Freedom

Post by Breath » Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:35 am

GreatandWiseTrixie wrote:
Breath wrote:
GreatandWiseTrixie wrote:Does a robot have freedom? He is only the sum of his parts.

So too, does a human not have freedom, for his actions are dictated by natural causes.

It does not matter if the man picks jazz, or nothing at all. It does not matter if tree roots drive him mad. He enjoys this suffering imposed upon him by the ignorance of his own mind. And if one day, he discovers his own ignorance, so too will he delight in the suffering of remembering his own folly.
Is a robot the negation of being?

If not, then comparisons between robots and humans are not relevant.

Breath
NonononononNO. It's quite relevant. And was not about being, if I recall. It was about decision making, and that they, - no YOU are no different than the common made in Japan robobot.
The thread is about Sartre, not cybernetics.

And no, Sartre didn't write about robots.

Breath

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Re: Sartre: How,Do,We,Get from Nothingness to Freedom

Post by GreatandWiseTrixie » Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:29 pm

GreatandWiseTrixie wrote:
Breath wrote:
GreatandWiseTrixie wrote:Does a robot have freedom? He is only the sum of his parts.

So too, does a human not have freedom, for his actions are dictated by natural causes.

It does not matter if the man picks jazz, or nothing at all. It does not matter if tree roots drive him mad. He enjoys this suffering imposed upon him by the ignorance of his own mind. And if one day, he discovers his own ignorance, so too will he delight in the suffering of remembering his own folly.
Is a robot the negation of being?

If not, then comparisons between robots and humans are not relevant.

Breath
NonononononNO. It's quite relevant. And was not about being, if I recall. It was about decision making, and that they, - no YOU are no different than the common made in Japan robobot.
Breath wrote: The thread is about Sartre, not cybernetics.

And no, Sartre didn't write about robots.

Breath
This thread about whatever I say it is. Kneel.

In the end, you will always kneel. If not to me, then you will kneel to someone inferior, like your mistress, or even more inferior than that, your government.

As for robots, what I said is simple, if you can't understand that, you are either a troll or just stupid/autistic. (can't make basic connections)

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Re: Sartre: How,Do,We,Get from Nothingness to Freedom

Post by Arising_uk » Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:21 pm

GreatandWiseTrixie wrote:Please stop using the word "choose", humans don't choose anything, they are robots.
Only if they decide to have two choices but what makes us not robots is that we can have three or more.
You hear the arguments of different thought patterns in your head, one emerges more dominant than the other, and thus a "choice" is made, when really it is not.
Who's this 'you'? The dominant thought?

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Re: Sartre: How,Do,We,Get from Nothingness to Freedom

Post by GreatandWiseTrixie » Thu Feb 26, 2015 5:20 pm

Arising_uk wrote:
GreatandWiseTrixie wrote:Please stop using the word "choose", humans don't choose anything, they are robots.
Only if they decide to have two choices but what makes us not robots is that we can have three or more.
You hear the arguments of different thought patterns in your head, one emerges more dominant than the other, and thus a "choice" is made, when really it is not.
Who's this 'you'? The dominant thought?
Who's this you?
Consciousness itself. The dominant thought is someone who usually gets their way, performing action in the physical realm.

Robots can choose between three or more choices. Still makes them robots.

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Re: Sartre: How,Do,We,Get from Nothingness to Freedom

Post by Arising_uk » Thu Feb 26, 2015 5:28 pm

GreatandWiseTrixie wrote:Who's this you?
Consciousness itself. The dominant thought is someone who usually gets their way, performing action in the physical realm.
Consciousness itself is what without a thought?

Who is this "someone"?
Robots can choose between three or more choices. Still makes them robots.
And what is bad about robots? As you appear to agree with me that when a robot can choose not to do or do something then it'll be conscious.

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