Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Discussion of articles that appear in the magazine.

Moderators: AMod, iMod

User avatar
iambiguous
Posts: 6902
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:23 pm

Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Post by iambiguous »

The Absurd Heroics of Monsieur Meursault
Alex Holzman asks what a hero is, and if Camus’ infamous character qualifies.
The Essence of Heroism

The answer lies perhaps in a deconstruction of the terms ‘heroic’ and ‘heroic deeds’. What does it mean to behave heroically? Self-sacrifice, generosity, piety, humility, and such traits are sometimes considered central to heroics, but that’s certainly not always the case.
Suppose someone had risked their life to save Adolph Hillter from certain death back in Nazi Germany. A hero? Suppose a doctor risked her freedom and performed safe abortions in a jurisdiction where abortion was deemed a capital crime. A hero? Suppose someone believed that Donald Trump was a danger to democracy here in America, and set out to assassinate him. A hero?

Who are the heroes right now in Ukraine and in the Gaza Strip? Who are the heroes in regard to AI technology...those advancing it leaps and bounds or those attempting to rein it in its potential dangers?

Are the capitalists the heroes or the socialists?

Thus...
This is a conflation of moral heroics with heroics of a more general nature. Many historical and fictional heroes were neither unwaveringly moral nor particularly interested in morality.
You can risk your own life in any number of particular contexts. No one would be able to deny that. Heroics revolving around the act of risking one's life. The "for better or worse" consequences embedded in the context itself.
A more Hegelian conception of ‘hero’ might simply be an influential figure in history – a Napoleon or Caesar, a Stalin or Mao: someone who moves the historical process along. The similarities between these barbarous heroes and the more palatable ones (Christ, Gandhi, etc) are scarce, but essential to understanding the nature of heroics.
Sure, ignore the moral and political consequences of heroic behavior altogether. Make it a purely "technical" account. Or scratch out the part about courage and make it more about "outstanding achievements, or noble qualities."

Then each side can line up and name their own heroes.
User avatar
iambiguous
Posts: 6902
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:23 pm

Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Post by iambiguous »

The Absurd Heroics of Monsieur Meursault
Alex Holzman asks what a hero is, and if Camus’ infamous character qualifies.
An existentialist understanding of heroics may indeed dispense with moral considerations altogether.
Well, how much guts does it take to live your life convinced that in a No God world good and evil are basically social and political constructs rooted existentially out in a particular world understood intersubjectively in a particular way? And even here convinced in turn that you have the capacity to freely choose between them?

In other words...
If for the sake of argument we accept the core existentialist idea that morality is self-imposed, so that no one can be objectively more or less moral than anyone else, would it follow that heroism cannot exist?
And then the part where, in a wholly determined universe, it would "exist"...but not exist. Whereas in a universe where "somehow" our species did acquire free will, the "self" comes to acquire value judgments existentially. Morality derived from dasein.

There are many, many different ways to assess this. Philosophically or otherwise. And while we might all concur regarding this fact, only a very, very few of us are fractured and fragmented.

Heroism? Given what particular context? Also, are we talking more about means or about ends?
This seems unlikely: existentialists from Kierkegaard to Camus have made reference to heroics despite their preclusion of objective morality.
In fact, existentialists I've bumped into over the years have sometimes reveled in the assumption that existentialism itself is the philosophy for heroes. Why? Well, first you have to expunge God from the narrative. Once He's gone, it takes courage, they insist, to go on accepting that your own existence is essentially meaningless and purposeless, that objective morality is out of reach, that death equals oblivion. God and morality are for the weak, they argue.

Then straight back up into the philosophical clouds...
So morality cannot be the basis of heroism, as heroes no doubt exist but morality may not. Justness and moral conscientiousness may be sufficient for heroism, given certain contexts and standards; but from an existentialist perspective, it cannot be necessary. Indeed, Kierkegaard’s greatest hero, Abraham, was but a few heartbeats away from murdering his own son.
Given certain contexts and standards? Now we're talking!

As for Abraham the hero? You tell me.
User avatar
iambiguous
Posts: 6902
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:23 pm

Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Post by iambiguous »

The Absurd Heroics of Monsieur Meursault
Alex Holzman asks what a hero is, and if Camus’ infamous character qualifies.
Sisyphus & The Absurd

Monsieur Meursault, the protagonist of Albert Camus’ novel The Stranger, is surely an intentionally unconventional hero.
Yes, but only if you imagine Sisyphus happy?
The Stranger was first published in 1942, after WWI, and therefore marked by extreme pessimism, and in the midst of WWII, and therefore belonging to a world thoroughly in upheaval.
No, really, think about that. You are born and raised in a world teeming with unending upheavals. The First World War, the Great Depression, the Second World War. How to reconcile that with a philosophy of life marked by...extreme optimism? In fact, how, once you have concluded there is almost certainly No God able to bring it all around to living happily ever after, is pessimism not an entirely reasonable frame of mind?
Correspondingly, the philosophy underscoring The Stranger is one of listlessness, dissatisfaction, cynicism, and exhaustion. In short, the novel is consumed wholly by a preoccupation with the absurd.
In other words, "listlessness, dissatisfaction, cynicism, and exhaustion" given an existence that is essentially meaningless and purposeless. Then in imagining yourself happy nonetheless?
Camus’ conception of heroics inevitably reflects this preoccupation, and subsequently, so does Meursault’s heroism.
You tell me.

What I'll tell you however is likely to be different. And that's because given all of the uniquely individual lives that we live, your heroes may well be entirely at odds with mine. Cue dasein?
However, it is in The Myth of Sisyphus that Camus most explicitly describes the heroics of absurdity. There he writes: “You have already grasped that Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is, as much through his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted towards accomplishing nothing. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of life.”
So, how might one then encompass posting here as accomplishing nothing? Well, I rationalize it by assuming that I cannot know with any degree of certainty if posting here is, in fact, actually accomplishing nothing or not. Perhaps one of these folks...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_r ... traditions
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_p ... ideologies
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_s ... philosophy

...are right and one can accomplish something considerably less absurd?
Walker
Posts: 14149
Joined: Thu Nov 05, 2015 12:00 am

Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Post by Walker »

iambiguous wrote: Fri Dec 01, 2023 7:58 pm So, how might one then encompass posting here as accomplishing nothing? Well, I rationalize it by assuming that I cannot know with any degree of certainty if posting here is, in fact, actually accomplishing nothing or not. Perhaps one of these folks...
- It’s the simplest concept of all. Order. Folks have a need to establish an order, and have the capacity to do it.
- From this we can conclude this is the purpose of humans. To establish order wherever they go, like some other life forms do.
- We can also conclude that slobs are a necessary corruption of the design, however they came to be corrupted.

- Ordered thinkers are orderly everywhere they go; establishing hierarchies, labeling, and all the rest under the rubric of science that sounds rather grand, although often it's science rooted in belief and anecdotal evidence.
User avatar
iambiguous
Posts: 6902
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:23 pm

Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Post by iambiguous »

Walker wrote: Fri Dec 01, 2023 8:10 pm
iambiguous wrote: Fri Dec 01, 2023 7:58 pm So, how might one then encompass posting here as accomplishing nothing? Well, I rationalize it by assuming that I cannot know with any degree of certainty if posting here is, in fact, actually accomplishing nothing or not. Perhaps one of these folks...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_r ... traditions
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_p ... ideologies
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_s ... philosophy

...are right and one can accomplish something considerably less absurd?
- It’s the simplest concept of all. Order. Folks have a need to establish an order, and have the capacity to do it.
- From this we can conclude this is the purpose of humans. To establish order wherever they go, like some other life forms do.
- We can also conclude that slobs are a necessary corruption of the design, however they came to be corrupted.

- Ordered thinkers are orderly everywhere they go; establishing hierarchies, labeling, and all the rest under the rubric of science that sounds rather grand, although often it's science rooted in belief and anecdotal evidence.
We'll need a context of course.

And one that takes the "concept" of order down out of the philosophical clouds and intertwines it in this particular context.
User avatar
iambiguous
Posts: 6902
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:23 pm

Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Post by iambiguous »

The Absurd Heroics of Monsieur Meursault
Alex Holzman asks what a hero is, and if Camus’ infamous character qualifies.
Like many legendary heros, Sisyphus struggled (and, if myth is to be believed, continues to struggle) against the will of the gods themselves. Sisyphus sought eternal life by challenging Death and Hades, and so was punished with ceaseless, meaningless toil, by having to push a boulder up a hill only to watch it tumble back down again, for all eternity.
Well, it's not called the myth of Sisyphus for nothing. And like most such myths, we take out of it what we first put into it...our own rooted existentially in dasein "self". And given that Camus attempts to reconcile the human condition with the "absurdity of life", how does Sisyphus not become just another manifestation of that? If your own life is essentially absurd, what's left but your own hopelessly -- at times haplessly -- subjective/subjunctive "narrative". The stories you tell yourself about "what it all means".
This punishment is an attempt by the gods to suppress Sisyphus’s freedom of choice, to make him into a mere object. However, to call it an ‘attempt’ reveals the possibility for heroics for Sisyphus.
And if there are no Gods? That, from my own frame of mind, is what makes human existence essentially meaningless and absurd. Clearly if there were Gods a font would then be available to encompass Sisyphus ontologically and teleologically. Sans the Gods [or a God, the God] and each of us as individuals will react to him existentially given the objective and subjective parameters of the life we live.
The primordial authority of the Olympian gods bore down on Sisyphus, and to some extent, he had no power but to submit; but even in the hopelessness of this unending torture, there remains the possibility of transcendence:

“Sisyphus, the proletarian of the gods, powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition; it is what he thinks of during his descent. The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory. There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn… if the descent is thus sometimes performed in sorrow, it can also take place in joy.”
Same thing of course. I read this and react as I do, you read it and react as you do. So, Mr. Serious Philosopher, how ought all rational mean and women react to it if they wish to be thought of as rational? The way that you do, perhaps?

Personally, I think that Camus's assessment is simply preposterous. Unless, of course, the Gods really do exist.
User avatar
iambiguous
Posts: 6902
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:23 pm

Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Post by iambiguous »

The Absurd Heroics of Monsieur Meursault
Alex Holzman asks what a hero is, and if Camus’ infamous character qualifies.
Meursault’s Absurdity

Let’s return to Meursault. In a world without gods, in which human experience reigns as the sole transcendence, heroism is defined not by a scorn for the will of the gods, but instead by a scorn for the machinations of man and for the contingency of the universe. With this established, Meursault is the realization of an absurd hero.
Okay, but that's not going to stop most "normal" men and women from being utterly alienated when confronting the attitude he displays regarding any number of things...and the behaviors he chooses which are considerably off the beaten path. Instead, they are going to fit him into one or another mainstream narrative and find him to be, well, very, very strange indeed.
The absurd swirls around Meursault as it does us all, lurking beneath our glib rationalizations. For instance, we grind our noses against the absurd in the nauseatingly alien moments of semantic satiation, where the meaningfulness of the arbitrary structures of grammar and language collapse through the repetition of words. We also face the absurd in those uncomfortably inexplicable but thankfully momentary experiences of disembodiment.
Maybe. Different folks, different strokes here in turn. But for me the "absurdity of life" still revolves largely around the consequences of being unable to connect the dots existentially between the behaviors we choose on this side of the grave and the fate of "I" for all the rest of eternity. An essentially meaningless existence that ends abruptly for all time to come in nothingness.
The absurd is similar in operation to Sartre’s nothingness, in that it is first and foremost a function of consciousness. Only consciousness can offer the awareness of the absurd – thereby creating absurdity; and once experienced, it can never be forgotten. The struggle against the absurd is consciousness’s ultimate battle.
Nausea let's call it.
User avatar
iambiguous
Posts: 6902
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:23 pm

Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Post by iambiguous »

The Absurd Heroics of Monsieur Meursault
Alex Holzman asks what a hero is, and if Camus’ infamous character qualifies.
Death is the supreme symbol of the absurd, since death represents both the cessation of consciousness and an unknowable phenomenon.
Unless, of course, God does exist. And you worship and adore the right one. Then you can spend the rest of eternity in paradise.

No God though and death would seem to make the life that mere mortals live essentially absurd. On the other hand, there are any number of Humanisms out there to choose from that will provide us with one or another ideological or deontological meaning and purpose. At least on this side of the grave. And all you have to do is to believe it.

Cue the Cure: https://youtu.be/SdbLqOXmJ04?si=EXMRm82LmSqsVTqk
It is in the depths of the struggle against absurdist death that we find Meursault at the end of The Stranger. The crime that has led him to the guillotine was pointless, insofar as we can tell: he has murdered an Arab, but not out of passion or spite, nor even bloodlust. The act was contingent upon nothing but the bright sun. It simply happened. It was an absurd act.
On the contrary, run that by those who reacted to what he did and it was anything but an absurd act. They have their own "philosophy of life" allowing them to spin the murder in any number of "objective" ways.
Of course, human law cannot comprehend this. For the legal system, crimes must have intent; there must have been a motive. So as a matter of course, Meursault is (justly) condemned by this institutional reaction to the absurd. But in a certain sense, the legal system has become another component of Meursault’s consciousness of absurdity.
Indeed, the legal system revolves around the "for all practical purposes" reality of human interactions that often come into conflict. Imagine breaking the law and insisting it really doesn't matter because ultimately life is absurd. I believe "here and now" that my own existence is essentially meaningless. But I have no illusion that this will satisfy others if my behaviors bring harm to them. It's the existential motive and intent that counts here.

Same with arguing determinism as your defense. After all, when they lock you up for murdering someone and send you to death row, they can argue determinism as well.
User avatar
iambiguous
Posts: 6902
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:23 pm

Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Post by iambiguous »

The Absurd Heroics of Monsieur Meursault
Alex Holzman asks what a hero is, and if Camus’ infamous character qualifies.
He is sentenced to death, the most severe punishment allowable by law. The absurd has ensnared Meursault, just as it did Sisyphus, snatched from the sea and sand to his toilsome stone. Led to his cell, Meursault is expected to either repent and surrender to the whims of man, or suffer in terror until the drop of the blade.
Or, of course, however you might react yourself in a similar situation? Given that you are convinced your own existence is essentially meaningless and absurd? And, again, it's not like philosophers can determine the most rational manner in which one ought to react to an execution where the variables involved are as problematic as they are here. In fact, here we are confronted with the moral conflagration that is capital punishment itself. Ought the state to be executing its own citizens? What is the most rationally sound philosophical argument?
This expectation is predicated upon both his consciousness of experiencing imprisonment and an expectation of a consciousness of fear, to be terminated by his death. And for a time it works as intended: Meursault quakes in his bunk each morning, awaiting the heavy footsteps of the guard coming to take him to his end. It is not until after his climactic rage against the prison chaplain that Meursault’s deconstruction of traditional expectations becomes clear.
Clear? To Camus, perhaps. In imagining himself as Monsieur Meursault? But how close would you and I come to "deconstructing traditional expectations" if we were awaiting execution on death row? How would our own deconstruction be any less rooted existentially in dasein than the reality that we and others constructed in the first place?

Again, once God is severed from the "human condition", so too is the font the faithful among us use to provide them with a resolution for...everything?
Meursault was content with the pleasures and passions of his world. He loved and longed for the sea and the bends of the coast, the alluring touch of a young lover, and the other aesthetic joys of a casual life, just as did (or does) Sisyphus. When asked by the chaplain what he’d desire in death, Meursault replies curtly that he desires nothing more or less than his own life again – what else could a man desire at the end?
In other words, as with those like me, Meursault had accumulated "distractions" that provided him with crucial day to day fulfilments and satisfactions that either put absurdity and oblivion out of mind or into perspective.

Still, once we choose to interact with others, we run the risk of coming into contact with those who don't share our own "philosophy of life". Our moral and political values. Our own assessment of immortality and salvation.
User avatar
iambiguous
Posts: 6902
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:23 pm

Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Post by iambiguous »

The Absurd Heroics of Monsieur Meursault
Alex Holzman asks what a hero is, and if Camus’ infamous character qualifies.
In the face of religion, Meursault remains unrepentant. And in the face of society, he feels no guilt.
So what?

From the perspective of the faithful, he is going to tumble over into the abyss that is oblivion. Eternal nothingness. While they will ascend to Heaven. Immortality and salvation awaits them. Though, sure, if those like Camus want to pat themselves on the back for having the intellectual integrity, honesty and courage to reject religion and accept an essentially absurd existence and oblivion...?

As for "society", there will always be any number of others who feel just as adamant regarding their own far more "spiritual" understanding of the human condition. What they believe will comfort and console them all the way to the grave. And even if what they believe about their own God and their own One True Path is not true at all, all it need be is true for them.
He does not suffer the concerns of others, nor does he submit to a fear of the absurd. The absurdity of Meursault’s world – personified and punctuated by his companions, the Arabs, the magistrate, the prosecutor, the judges, and the priest – seeks to collapse him into a choiceless object, whose only remaining transcendence will be his suffering and death.
Hell is other people? That's how I always interpreted Sartre's frame of mind here. They can be hell because existentially they make our day to day lives a misery. But more to the point [mine] they are hell because they attempt to objectify us. They react to what we say and do given how close to or far away from their own God or No God dogmas they construe us to be. Which is why the conflict between Hamas and the Zionists is particularly surreal. They both worship the same God!

Then this particularly obtuse "philosophical contraption":
But Meursault, the Algerian Sisyphus, resists this reduction to a choiceless nothingness, and in doing so, affirms his own transcendence. At the sight of his own great stone tumbling down for the final time, Meursault merely shrugs his shoulders and begins his descent.
Culminating in this:
Absurd Heroics

It is only conscious life that separates us from death, and death can only come at the end of consciousness. Yet we fear it as though it is something to be suffered, like an illness. Rather, death is simply a bracketing of conscious life – no different in function than birth. Fear of death is in actuality an expression of love for life. It is the fear of an unknown that steals our possibilities from us. But it is only while fearful that one can choose instead to be brave; and it is only while brave that one can be a hero. Meursault routinely demonstrates radical bravery in the face of the absurd. He is not a good man; but he attains a level of authenticity that few ever mimic. And he faces death with contentedness, taking responsibility for the man he chose to be. Thus he opens himself to the happiness of Sisyphus. Hades kneels before Chaos, and Meursault awaits the scornful cries, comforted by their familiarity.
We have to imagine that Meursault was...happy?

And, okay, if you are able to think yourself into believing this then good for you. "Whatever works", I always say.
User avatar
iambiguous
Posts: 6902
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:23 pm

Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Post by iambiguous »

On Being An Existentialist
Stuart Greenstreet chooses to tell us how to become authentically existentialist.
It took almost a century of thought before existentialism came to fruition as a popular movement – almost a craze – in post-war France in the nineteen-forties and fifties.

This was the time of its greatest influence, not only on philosophy but also on literature, drama and film-making, extending far beyond France.
Let's speculate as to why that was the case...

1] World War I
2] the Great depression
3] World War II
4] the Cold War culminating in the Cuban Missile Crisis

A tumultuous world confronting one historical crisis after another. Existentialists then groping to encompass that in a philosophy of life that increasingly [for many] does not include God and religion.
But here I am dealing with existentialism solely as a school of philosophy – one which arose mainly from the work of five men and one woman: Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir.
Me? Well, in regard to these folks, my own main interest revolves not around exploring existentialism as a school of philosophy, but around taking their technical, philosophical assumptions down out of the philosophical clouds -- out of school -- and examining them instead out in a particular set of circumstances. Contexts let's call them.
Of these, Sartre was the only one to accept the name ‘existentialist’ and employ all of its key concepts: ‘anguish’, ‘bad faith’, ‘facticity’, ‘commitment’, and ‘authenticity’.
Yes, but that does get all the trickier because Sartre was also committed existentially to an "authenticity" that included Marx and Mao.

And that's always crucial in regard to human interactions, in my view: where does "I" end and "we" begin?
User avatar
iambiguous
Posts: 6902
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:23 pm

Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Post by iambiguous »

On Being An Existentialist
Stuart Greenstreet chooses to tell us how to become authentically existentialist.
All philosophers in the existentialist camp shared the same mission: to make us recognise that human beings are free to choose, not only what to do when faced with moral choices, but what to value and how to live.
Which, for the most part, is why any number of existentialists that I have encountered over the years were/are so reluctant to consider my own "fractured and fragmented" frame of mind. Most rejected God and objective morality, but many were convinced that, in regard to "I" in the is/ought world, one could still be considerably more authentic than inauthentic. Indeed, for those like Nietzsche, one could even become an Übermensch...and rule the roost?
They want these facts about human freedom to be not merely accepted, but absorbed by each person for himself or herself, so that when they have absorbed them their whole view of life will be different.
Different, yes. But better? Well, many of the No God secular objectivists have certainly convinced themselves that "might makes right" only insofar as it is seamlessly intertwined in "right makes might". The Übermensch rule...but only because "philosophically"/"naturally" they deserve to.
Existentialism as a cultural movement belongs to the past. But as a philosophy with this utterly practical mission, it can be as liberating to us now as it was to men and women in war-torn Europe.
Liberating, perhaps. But we will still need actual contexts in which to explore this down out of the didactic clouds. If, for example, you feel liberated in shepherding flocks the Last Men to do your own superior and enlightened bidding, fine...but what "for all practical purposes" will that mean in terms of rewards and punishments for actual flesh and blood human beings?

After all, consider the fate of those who, for folks like Satyr and AJ, are deemed inherently/necessarily inferior given the color of their skin or their gender or their sexual orientation or their religion or their political values. The "biological imperative" Nazis who actually do act out their own xenophobic dogmas.
User avatar
iambiguous
Posts: 6902
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:23 pm

Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Post by iambiguous »

On Being An Existentialist
Stuart Greenstreet chooses to tell us how to become authentically existentialist.
When readers of the Parisian newspaper Le Monde began to take notice of existentialism, the newspaper published an article in December 1945 to tell them what it meant. Although it did its best, Le Monde finally felt it had to admit that “Existentialism, like faith, cannot be explained; it can only be lived.”
Though, of course, if we all lived the same life what would be the point of creating existentialism as a philosophy of life? Instead, we often live very, very different lives. And, as a result of this, our own uniquely personal experiences bring about what can be very different understandings regarding things like war and peace, sexuality, gender, race, religion, value judgments.

The human condition to date, for example.
Why is existentialism like faith? Because to base one’s conduct on a belief that one is free to choose is an act of faith, for there’s no way of knowing for sure whether it’s true or false.
Sound familiar? You know, going back to a definitive understanding of how and why the human condition fits into the existence of existence itself. With or without God?

Besides, with all of the other "philosophies of life" to choose from -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_s ... philosophy -- what else is there [in the end] but one or another rooted existentially in dasein "leap of faith" to one or another "one of us" vs. "one of them" set of assumptions.
And what makes existentialism hard to explain? Perhaps it is its claim that no objective moral order exists, independently of humanity. That makes it futile to seek a code for behaviour anywhere outside of ourselves. Each individual has to create his or her own value by living and affirming it, and must do so in a way that satisfies a single governing norm of ‘authenticity’ – in perhaps oversimplistic terms, through always ‘being myself’.
Of course, that's my point, isn't it? In any given community, one may or may not be encouraged to "be yourself". Or one may or may not be encouraged to "be like all the rest of us". Then the part where historically, culturally and experientially that is ever and always evolving and changing.

But it's not so much explaining this that matters nearly as much as how discomfited others can be with your own explanation.

Mine here for example.
User avatar
iambiguous
Posts: 6902
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:23 pm

Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Post by iambiguous »

On Being An Existentialist
Stuart Greenstreet chooses to tell us how to become authentically existentialist.
Existentialism is obsessed with how individuals choose to live their lives.
Well, this existentialist is more obsessed with the manner in which dasein and the Benjamine Button Syndrome factor into the choices we make pertaining to value judgments. The part where we can ascertain what "the right thing to do" is in accomplishing goals in the either/or world -- you either do or you do not -- and the part where we embrace one set of behaviors that others insist are "the wrong thing to do".

For example, the difference between "what is the right thing to do" in order to become a successful investment banker and a successful investment banker then encountering someone who insists that the right thing to do is dismantle capitalism and embrace socialism.
Our choices are demonstrated by our acts, and always concern matters within our power. To choose, then, involves deliberating about things that are in our control and attainable by our action. Then by whatever actions we choose to take, we define and create the selves that we gradually become.
Up to a point, of course, we can all agree with this. It is behavior that precipitates consequences. But to what extent can philosophers/ethicists establish which behaviors are in fact the most rational and the most virtuous? And, perhaps, nothing is more important here than being within reach of the options needed to act out what we believe is the right thing to do in our heads. Political power is always the bottom line out in the world we live in.

But then back to why we choose things that others roundly reject. Pick one:

1] dasein
2] deontology
For example, we become ‘just’ by performing just acts, and similarly as regards other virtues. This is not meant as a moral point – no ‘should’ or ‘ought’ is implied – but as a fact about the nature of the world and of human choice: that my choices of good or evil will determine my character and make me the kind of human being that I turn out to be.
Well, existentially, we've all turned out to be who we think we are here and now. But what of those who turned out to be very different? Given the tools of philosophy, to what extent can we determine what the optimal sets of behaviors are in a particular "situation"? In regard to performing just acts are the ethics situational as well, or was Kant right?
User avatar
iambiguous
Posts: 6902
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:23 pm

Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Post by iambiguous »

On Being An Existentialist
Stuart Greenstreet chooses to tell us how to become authentically existentialist.
Choosing Value

Existentialism makes every individual responsible for deciding for him or herself how to evaluate their choices.
Think about how problematic that is however. Every individual decides for him or herself. But only given the world that they were born and raised in. Sure, if philosophers were able, using the tools at their disposal, to take that into account and propose the most rational choices then that evaluation process would be all that mattered.

So, link us to it.
Sartre further remarked that it is in the nature of values that they make demands on us. I do not just see the homeless person; I encounter him as someone ‘to be helped’. Why ought I help the homeless? The answer can be revealed, Sartre thought, only to a free agent who makes the value exist by the fact of recognizing it as such. You judge a homeless man as someone to be helped only because you have already chosen yourself as a person who helps people. There is an answer to ‘Why ought I help the homeless?’ from within that prior ‘self-making’ choice; but outside of it there is none. Moreover, the principle of helping – say kindliness or compassion – is sanctioned by your action, rather than the action by the principle.
No, the nature of values revolves instead around all of complex reactions each of us as individuals have in regard to the homeless. Not everyone wishes to help them. Some feel contempt for them. They become bums, losers, vagrants. Think Alex DeLarge and his Droogs. Others, however, see them as victims of "society". Of capitalism and the "deep state".

So, you are an existentialist. What then is the most "authentic" reaction to them?
Post Reply