Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

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iambiguous
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Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

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On Being An Existentialist
Stuart Greenstreet chooses to tell us how to become authentically existentialist.
The Facts of Freedom

Existentialism’s most basic premise is that human beings have no pre-existing or set nature or character. We are not essentially anything, except that we are essentially free. We become self-created beings by virtue of our actions and our relations with other people. Hence the existentialist slogan ‘existence precedes essence’.
Of course, there are any number of biological imperatives that do factor into the behaviors that we choose. Before we can begin to squabble over the morality of any number of conflicting goods given our social, political and economic interactions, we must first be a part of a community able to sustain a means of production that allows us to subsist from day to day.
That each one of us has absolute freedom of choice is an existentialist article of faith – to the existentialist it is a truth so self-evident that it never needs to be proved or even argued for.
Absolute freedom of choice?!! That's ridiculous. We either have the actual option to do what we want to do or we don't. And those options are in turn shaped and molded by the historical and cultural parameters of our lived lives or they are not. As are our wants themselves. Some want this, others want that. So, what ought all rational men and women want if they wish to be thought of as either good or evil?

Instead, let's stay up in the philosophical clouds:
And who needs theoretical proof of something indispensable to the practical business of living? To an existentialist, “My freedom is my essence and my salvation. I cannot lose it without ceasing to be” (Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy). So every honest person must recognize my freedom.
You tell me. If the behaviors you honestly chose in regard to conflicting goods are derived from an essential freedom and others choosing to behave in exactly the opposite manner based on the assumption that their freedom is essentially -- objectively -- the One True Path...?
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Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

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On Being An Existentialist
Stuart Greenstreet chooses to tell us how to become authentically existentialist.
Obviously no one chooses entirely what he or she becomes, or is. Each of us has a set of given natural and social properties that influence the kind of person we become.
Sound familiar? Indeed, how is this any less applicable to existentialists? Starting with our indoctrination as children and all of the personal expereineces that revolve entirely around when and where we were born, there are any number of varaibles in our lives that are either beyond our fully understanding or controlling.

Or, demographically...
Sartre gave to these features the collective name ‘facticity’. One’s facticity comprises all those properties another person could discover and investigate. They include natural properties, such as sex, weight, height, and skin colour; social facts, such as race, class, and nationality; psychological properties, such as my extant web of beliefs, desires, and character traits; and historical facts, such as my family background, schooling; and so forth.
Sound familiar? I merely make what I deem to be that crucial distinction between actual facts...objective facts that can readily be communicated in the either/or world...and the "facts" some claim to be universally applicable to all of us in regard to value judgments.

And, sure, if you believe that is the case, by all means, try to convince me. After all, there is still a part of me that wants to believe it. And all the better if the dots can then be connected between "here and now" and "there and then".
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Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

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On Being An Existentialist
Stuart Greenstreet chooses to tell us how to become authentically existentialist.
Our own facticity hardly ever occupies our own minds in this third-person kind of way, even though it does weigh on us and colour our moods and approach to life.
Again, though, how it occupies your mind is not likely to be how it occupies mine. Why? Because my own approach to life involves that critical distinction between the objective components of our lives readily communicated to others and the subjective/subjunctive nature of "I" embedded in the endless communication breakdowns in regard to our value judgments.
However, when I do step back and take a third-person, objective, view of my facticity, then these given facts about me may strike me as precisely what does define who I am.
And then this parrt...

Yes, there are any number of objective facts about our lives. But even these demographic and circumstantial variables were beyond our control at birth. And how others react to them over the course of our lives is going to be rooted in turn out in particular worlds understood in particular ways historically and culturally. So, it's not like philosophers came along and figured out a way to grasp how we ought to think and feel about the parts that come into conflict.

Unless, of course, you count the "my way or the highway" objectivists...

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

...among these folks who, in my view, make fool out of themselves by insisting that, no, their own One True Path really is the One True Path.

So, many of them -- the "serious philosophers"? -- take it all back up into the theoretical clouds....
But for an existentialist, to think this would be a radical mistake, not because my factual properties are misleading, but because the person each one of us is cannot be defined in third-person terms. No objective account of my properties could ever describe my subjective experience of what it’s like to be me, the person who has them. So someone observing me can make out my skin colour, class, or ethnicity; but the moment he attempts to identify me in terms of these properties, he encounters a paradox, since the kind of being I am is defined, among other things, by the attitude I adopt towards my own facticity – by how I choose to interpret it – and that is not fixed by the facts. Who I am depends (among other things) on what I make of my facticity, on how I try to go beyond, or transcend it. In other words, whatever my facticity, and no matter how fixed it may be, it does not curtail my freedom. I am still free to decide what values to ascribe to my facticity, and what stance to take towards it. To become the person you choose to be despite the burden of your facticity is the only authentic way to live your life, whereas to live it as though you were at the mercy of your facticity – to pretend that it has robbed you of your freedom – is inauthenticity. It would be to lose both one’s autonomy and one’s integrity, and in this way give in to determinism.
Got that?

Okay, bring your own interpretation of it down out of the didactic clouds and let's explore it given a particular set of circumstances.
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Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

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On Being An Existentialist
Stuart Greenstreet chooses to tell us how to become authentically existentialist.
The Price of Freedom

It would be hard to feel otherwise about freedom and choice if you had lived in occupied France between 1940 and 1945, when existentialism came of age as the philosophie officielle of the resistance movement.
Again, what does this tell us about freedom? That, depending on the historical and cultural parameters of the life you live, and your own collection of personal experiences, freedom can mean many, many different things. And it's not only the price that you pay for freedom but, in turn, the cost it can exact when you come upon those who insist that you must embrace their own social, political and economic assessments of it. Or else. Think Nazis and Jews. Think Trump and democracy.

Or that age-old conundrum embedded in the advice from others to "be yourself"; but, at the same time, to "do the right thing".
In those years, and even during the post-1945 reconstruction, it exerted a powerful appeal that was as much emotional as intellectual. If “man is nothing but that which he makes of himself” (Sartre), then no one is bound by fate, or by forces outside their control.
Does this really make sense? If existentialism was born following such historical calamities as the First World War, the Great Depression, the Second World War and the Cuban Missile crisis, doesn't it confront us precisely with the reality that there are any number of things that can have a profound impact on the lives we live, but are largely beyond our control? Or even our understanding of?

Right now, in America, the Iowa caucuses commence a presidential election year that could very well culminate in a second Trump term. And if the MAGA forces also succeed in capturing both houses of Congress?
By uniting with like-minded people, the individual can challenge authority – even tyrannical power – and change things. He or she can choose to oppose the Nazis, or to create a more just society than had existed before the war. Only by exercising their personal freedom could people regain their civil liberties.
Of course, this assumes that philosophers can pin down deontologically how all rational men and women ought to exercise their freedom. That, say, democracy and the rule of law really is the best of all possible worlds? Did not any number of Nazis in all sincerity believe that National Socialism -- the final solution -- was the best of all possible worlds? A just world?

Sure, as long as the discussion stays up in the intellectual clouds...
But there is a price to be paid for the freedom to do whatever you choose at every juncture. No one can decide on your behalf; the choice of action is always yours and yours alone. And no one can ever avoid the personal responsibility for judging what the morally right thing to do is. You thus suffer the potential anguish of having to endure an endless series of choices in the knowledge that only you can decide, that you may evaluate anything as you please, and that you have no character to guide your choice other than the one you’re forming for yourself.
...freedom can be construed to fall anywhere along the ideological spectrum.

Just steer entirely clear of the points I raise in the OPs here:

https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... 1&t=176529
https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... 1&t=194382

Instead, assume that you really are in sync with the "real me" in sync further with "the right thing to do" and embrace one of these...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_p ... ideologies

...objectivist renditions of the One True Path to enlightenment and freedom and justice.
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Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

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On Being An Existentialist
Stuart Greenstreet chooses to tell us how to become authentically existentialist.
Not everyone can cope with the burden of an existentialist approach to shaping their lives and characters. Some may try to flee the tyranny of choice by hiding from themselves the truth that we are all, as Sartre said, “condemned to be free” – which means not free to cease being free.
Sure, there are always going to be moral and political objectivists among us who insist you are "condemned to be wrong" if you don't embrace their own assessment of freedom.

They cease to be free every time they actually dare to insist that in regard to all of many One True Paths to Enlightenment, their own really, really, really is the optimal [if not the only] way to be free.
All our acts inevitably presuppose choice; and so we are still choosing even when we think we are not – even when we have deliberately chosen not to choose.
We'll need a context of course. After all, if not choosing to act is still a choice, the actual existential/historical ramifications of that can be more or less consequential.
When France was over-run and occupied by the German army in 1940, every French man and woman was forced to think about their values and decide whether to resist and struggle to free their country, or to resign themselves to Nazi domination.
And, suppose, for any number of reasons over the next 10 months or so, MAGA prevails here in America such that Trumpworld encompasses the White House, Capital Hill and the Supreme Court. But by bit some semblance of fascism in the USA begins to emerge.

What is to be done? In other words, whether you act or do not act on that, or however you do act, is there a way [philosophically or otherwise] to grasp how reasonable men and women are [in a Kantian sense] obligated to act?
They had to choose, and it was a time when they faced their freedom in great anguish. Some were unable to bear the thought of their freedom, and in order to escape its pressure adopted the cover of what Sartre called ‘bad faith’, perhaps the most important concept of his philosophy.
Some confronted this agony, sure, but the objectivists [on both sides] were often fanatically certain they were doing the right thing. The "psychology of objectivism" let's call it. "Bad faith" becomes the equivalent here of "one of them".
Someone is in bad faith when, in order to protect himself from the anxiety of having to choose, he pretends to himself that he is not as free as he actually is. It is a specific kind of self-deception, a core betrayal of one’s self.
Human psychology in a nutshell? Rooted existentially -- subjectively/subjunctively -- in dasein, there were so many variables involved there and then and so many involved here and now [re Trumpworld] who can really pin down how a truly free person might be obligated to react to and then act for or against dramatic changes such as the rise of fascism. Or Communism or one or another theocratic movement.
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Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

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On Being An Existentialist
Stuart Greenstreet chooses to tell us how to become authentically existentialist.
A common type of bad faith is the denial of one’s freedom in the form of an excuse, typically beginning with “I couldn’t help it…” We hear this in the excuse made by those Nazi soldiers who insisted “I could not do otherwise” or “I was just doing my duty.”
Tell me, however, that "for all practical purposes" this doesn't get tricky? Surely, there are any number of situations we might find ourselves in whereby we really do believe we couldn't help doing what we did. Someone [for whatever reason] is able to force us to do their bidding...or else.

Yes, any number of German soldiers and civilians might have rejected Hitler and the Nazis. They might even have attempted to bring them all down. But how is this not but another manifestation of dasein? And how does this not entail consequences?

On the other hand, any number of German soldiers and civilians back then acted out of what they construed to be a "good faith" commitment to fascism and the Final Solution.
One can always do otherwise: one can quit, or run away, or even choose to be shot. The cost might be enormous – even one’s life – but it is never a case of cannot, always of will not.
Yes, but again, each individual here is embedded in their own set of circumstances. And the costs might not only be in regard to them. The costs can also spill over to families and friends and loved ones.
They chose to continue to obey orders: it was not determined by their nature. Existentialism doesn’t allow excuses.
This reflects what some construe to be the most radical -- or ridiculous? -- assessment of existentialism. What some will deem to be excuses from their point of view is deemed as anything but from another's point of view. And there is no "nature" here so much as nurture.

And then those who argue that we don't really choose anything at all in a wholly determined universe.

Instead, even given free will, this particular assessment hovers up in the clouds...
There is never a legitimate reason for denying one’s freedom. No matter how oppressed we may be by our situation or circumstances, we know we can always imagine alternatives – and act on them too, if we’re brave enough. The only way to stay in good faith is honestly to continually own up and respond to being free to choose, and accountable for whatever you decide to do.
That's what some will bring it down to: bravery.

As though there is always the "right thing to do" if you have the guts to do it. As though those on the other side of any particular conflict can't make the same claim about their own behaviors.
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Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

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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.
Then it collided with "the Sixties" here in America. And I was hooked. In part because I had just gone through my own tumultuous experiences in Vietnam. Existentialism, along with Marxism managed to sweep a lot of us into an entirely radical frame of mind. A profound manifestation of dasein as I came to interpret it.
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. 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’.
Then my own main complaint...

A "school of philosophy" is one thing, bringing it down out of the intellectual clouds and noting its relevance pertaining to lives that are often in conflict regarding value judgments, another thing altogether.

This is perhaps why the book that had [by far] the most profound impact on me is this one: https://www.amazon.com/BLOOD-OTHERS-Sim ... 0394724119

Why? Because life doesn't get much more existential than in the midst of a world war where so much is at stake if the resistance against Hitler had failed. In fact, that is often the case. If one lives a life that is basically unchanged year in and year out, there is often little to test your own value judgments. Only the most hardcore objectivists manage to explain everything in terms of their own arrogant dogmas.

As for those, "key concepts: 'anguish', 'bad faith', 'facticity', 'commitment', and 'authenticity'"? Is there any philosophy of life able to pin them down...essentially? Indeed, the reason so many folks I have come across rejected existentialism is precisely because, in my view, they insist that they can be. Just anchor your Self to one or another objectivist "Ism".

Only I'm also quite clear that this is no less applicable to me as well.
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.
Next up, however:

https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... 1&t=176529
https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... 1&t=194382
https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... 5&t=185296

Unless, of course, I'm wrong.
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Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

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Colin Wilson As Hydra
Vaughan Rapatahana examines the many heads of the English Existentialist.
Colin Wilson, Existentialist Romantic

What then is Wilson saying? Generally, he wants an intensive and exhaustive survey of man’s inner states.
As though, what, eventually philosophers might actually come around to grasping the optimal inner state that all rational men and women are obligated to pursue?
More specifically, Wilson’s avowed aim in the Introduction, as in several of his earlier philosophical works, is to improve not only on what he calls ‘Existentialism Mark One’ (Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre, Jaspers, Camus, etc), but on its immediate progenitor, the Romantic movement. “Existentialism is Romanticism, and Romanticism is the feeling that man is not the mere creature he has always taken himself for,” he says.
Got that? Okay, bring it out into the world of conflicting value judgments and explore it with us in terms of the actual behaviors that you have chosen of late.

Start here: https://youtu.be/6o1ztDRyCMc?si=-N2upu-_aLJwRkk7

So, it seems to revolve in large part around the limitations of reason. And the extent to which you commense "reasoning" from the perspective of "I" or "we". Or in how the two become intertwined historically and culturally. Both subjectively in terms of cerebral pursuits and subjunctively in terms of intuitive or emotional reactions.
Romanticism was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement which began in the late 18th century as a reaction to Enlightenment rationalism and the growing hegemony of science. Lasting until the mid 19th century, it was a movement of men and women who sensed that there was ‘more’ to life – as experienced through the magnificence of Nature.
Would that we could all be Vulcans then? On the other hand, that doesn't make the either/or world any less applicable regarding much of what we do from day to day in our interactions with others. And Star Trek rarely focused much attention on the Vulcan mind and moral conflagrations, did it? Only that Spock and Kirk and all the rest of them aboard the Enterprise were on a mission to rid the galaxy of collectivism.

And while there may well be "more to life" than can be pinned down by philosophers and scientists, what exactly might that entail given this or that set of circumstances? And, again, along with the magnificence of nature comes this part:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_earthquakes
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_l ... _eruptions
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_t ... l_cyclones
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tsunamis
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_landslides
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fires
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_epidemics
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_deadliest_floods
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_t ... ore_deaths
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_diseases
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_extinction_events
Existentialism, which was born in the 19th century but became very prominent in the mid 20th with Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Simone de Beauvoir, saw men and women as alienated, lonely creatures born into a universe which is coldly indifferent to us, rendering our values absurd and condemning us to an inescapable freedom and responsibility.
Of course: theoretically.
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Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

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Colin Wilson As Hydra
Vaughan Rapatahana examines the many heads of the English Existentialist.
The difference between Wilson’s New Existentialism and the intense emotional spasms of the Romantics (which never lasted for any length of time and thus led to despair, depression and early demise) or the insufferable negativity of Existentialism Mark One, is that the New Existentialism is based on optimism and positivity.
We'll need a context of course.

From my frame of mind, this frame of mind resolves largely around the assumption that existentialism provides you with considerably more options in living your life. With the moral objectivists, it's just one more rendition of "what would Jesus do"? Ever and always it comes down to having no other option but that which most 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

...subscribe to. Their own or another rendering of "or else". Some being more adamant here than others. In other words, you might wind up in a reeducation camp. Or a gulag. Or even in Hell itself.

On the other hand, some existentialists will rally around the option they call an "authentic life". Alas, in my view, we'll need a context there as well.
Wilson wants to build on the momentary earth-shattering epiphanies of the Romantics and renounce the unhappy stoicism of the earlier Existentialists to point the way to a permanently-expanded state of consciousness. Then humans – or at least some of them – will evolve exponentially into grandiose creatures of the mind, tapping our giant vista of internal freedom and what Wilson calls the objective values of existence – “there is a standard of values external to [everyday] human consciousness,” he claims in the Introduction. As he points out, “everyday consciousness is a liar.”
So, is this or is this not another rendition of Nietzsche's Übermensch? God's dead but what's to stop us from mimicking Him as best we can in dealing with the flocks of sheep, the masses, the multitudes, the herds, the rabble.

As for those "objective values of existence", well, Mr. Existentialist Romantic, let's bring them down out of the philosophical clouds.

Then the part where Wilson is described as a "mystic" in turn. Cue William Blake?
A mystic is somebody who claims an awareness of some transcendent reality beyond the restrictions of everyday life, and who believes that this numinous realm can be explored only through some means other than scientific rationality – for example by introspection.
Introspection? In other words, mystics are "somehow" able to convince themselves mentally, emotionally and psychologically that given just how grim and precarious life can be on this side of the grave, there surely must be something else "out there" to anchor their "intrinsic self" to. Maybe not God exactly but certainly not oblivion.
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Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

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Colin Wilson As Hydra
Vaughan Rapatahana examines the many heads of the English Existentialist.
New Existentialism is Wilson’s attempt to delineate an Existentialism which expands into free-range mysticism. Indeed his mystical impetus all-too-often overwhelms clarity of logic, expression, and sense: he is impelled to paint what he senses, in wide and colourful stokes, and damn the details.
All I can do here is ask others if they think they understand what he is suggesting that Wilson is himself conveying with this "New Existentialism". Cite particular examples -- experiences -- from your own life that might illustrate the text for us.
This is a significant point about his work: Wilson writes intensely, compelled to convey his vision over and over again, to the extent that often clarity of terminology or rigid logical progression are not priorities.
Alas, from my own perspective, clarity is precisely what we can never hope to achieve in regard to the outsider's [or even the insider's] value judgments. Unless, in regard to particular sets of behaviors involving conflicting goods, someone here can provide us with a "rigid logical progression" to an objective morality.
Colin Wilson’s Mystical Peaks

The American psychologist Abraham Maslow developed a theory that people have what he called ‘peak experiences’. These are moments of intense inspiration, love, happiness, insight or heightened consciousness, when the individual is in complete harmony with himself and his surroundings.
Again, however, "peak experiences" in regard to what set of circumstances? And then the part where ethicists attempt to pin down the optimal behaviors given their own subjective/subjunctive understanding of the world around them. And, of course, those who go beyond their own set of assumptions and insist that others must accept them too.
Maslow said that people who have developed to their full potential have peak experiences often – perhaps even many times a day – while others have them less frequently.
One can't help but wonder how that might have been applicable to Adolph Hitler and to all the other alleged "moral monsters" down through the ages who were instead convinced that their value judgments reflected the most rational and virtuous of world views.
Wilson seized on this idea, seeing how well it fitted with his project to develop an emotionally positive existentialism. He asked: why not have peak experiences all the time, inculcated deliberately? Part of Wilson’s mission is to promote the deliberate pursuit of peak experiences through focused thought.
Now all we need is a world where the countless "peak experiences" among objectivists did not precipitate one or another inquisition or crusade or jihad or death camp or gulag or uprising or revolution.

Cue the Philosopher Kings?
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Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

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Is an Existentialist Ethics Possible?
Does Sartre’s philosophy give us any clues about how we should live? Yes, says Jonathan Crowe – he showed us that we can’t avoid choosing.
The early French existentialists, such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, were very much public figures. They involved themselves in political and social debates, applying their philosophical views to current issues and events.
Again, putting this in historical perspective, the early French existentialists were reacting to a world that had endured the First World War, the Great Depression, the Second World War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and "the Sixties". How could their philosophy not be profoundly existential?

Same with all the rest of us. To what extent has our own life been bursting at seams with any profound and prolonged changes?
Given this practical approach to philosophy, it seems paradoxical that philosophers continue to be sceptical about the possibility of constructing an ethical theory based on existentialism.
Whereas, from my frame of mind, the "for all practical purposes" approach to ethics [and to politics] confronts us with the actual convoluted complexities of human interactions socially, politically and economically. Sure, an ethical theory can be constructed out of a world of words...but how does it fare given the points I raise on this thread: https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... 1&t=176529

And [of course] given a particular set of conditions, an actual situation you find yourself in involving conflicting goods.
In this article, I want to explore two of the main reasons for this scepticism and suggest that there is a way around them.

The first reason frequently given for doubting the possibility of an existentialist ethics is that existentialism is merely descriptive. The main thrust of existentialist philosophy has always been ontology – that is, existentialist philosophers have sought to describe and categorise the elements of the world as it appears to them.
Exactly. Then, I believe, it's back to this:
If you were born and raised in a Chinese village in 500 BC, or in a 10th century Viking community or in a 19th century Yanomami village or in a 20th century city in the Soviet Union or in a 21st century American city, how might your value judgments be different?
Even today there are any number of, at times, disparate cultures around the globe that have sustained conflicting ethnologies and traditions and conventions and customs and folkways and mores and laws.

Okay, you're a philosopher, an ethicist. Your task is to take all of that into consideration and "think up" the most rational and virtuous behaviors these dissimilar and ofttimes incompatible cultures ought to practice if they wish to be thought of as rational and virtuous.

In other words...
However, ontology, or describing the world as it is, is quite different from ethics, which asks how the world ought to be.
Even grasping how the world is, is predicated by and large on how your own culture -- and your own individual experiences -- shaped and molded you over the course of a lifetime into particular sets of assumptions regarding [among other things] these factors:
Then going deeper into our own subjective reactions to things like capitalism vs. socialism, big government vs. small government, I vs. we, genes vs. memes, religion vs. atheism, idealism vs pragmatism, might makes right vs. right makes might vs. democracy and the rules of law.
To construct an existentialist ethics, it seems, one would have to bridge the seemingly insurmountable chasm between ‘is’ and ‘ought’, made famous in modern moral philosophy by David Hume. Most philosophers now accept that one cannot validly reach conclusions about what ought to be the case based solely on descriptions of how things are.
Then the wrinkles I throw in here pertaining to "the gap", "Rummy's rules", Benjamin Button, dasein, contingency, chance and change and any number of additional postmodern ambiguities.
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Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

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Is an Existentialist Ethics Possible?
Does Sartre’s philosophy give us any clues about how we should live? Yes, says Jonathan Crowe – he showed us that we can’t avoid choosing.
The second reason for being sceptical about the viability of an existentialist ethics arises from the widespread perception of existentialism as a form of moral subjectivism. According to moral subjectivism, morality is simply a matter of individual preferences. There is no objective way of judging one person’s moral preferences to be better or worse than those of another.
Which, in my view, reflects the manner in which those like Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir spoke of "authenticity" less in terms of what we believe and more in terms of the recognition that what we believe is often a manifestation of the actual life that we lived. Rather than accepting the belief that, God or No God, mere mortals are able to actually arrive at the most rationally authentic way to live.

Thus, "Hell is other people" because they seek to objectify us in dividing up the is/ought world into "one of us" [the righteous few] vs. "one of them" [the ignoble many].
In this way, existentialism is often portrayed as promoting a view of morality where anything goes. This picture fits in well with popular perceptions of existentialist philosophers as trench coat-wearing nihilists solemnly proclaiming the death of God in cafés on the Parisian Left Bank. While hanging about in cafés in Paris is certainly an important part of the existentialist tradition, I would argue that the existentialist view of morality is more complex than this picture suggests.
Again, just as existentialism is grasped by particular individuals out in particular worlds understood in conflicting ways, interacting with others given the Benjamin Button Syndrome, criticisms of it reflect, in turn, the same rooted subjectively in dasein sets of assumptions.

That's why over and again I'm no less insistent that regarding existential ethics and moral nihilism, even among staunch advocates there are often communication breakdowns.

The complexities, in part, revolve around all the variables in our lives that we simply do not either fully comprehend or control.

Then, for moral nihilists my ilk, this part:
If I am always of the opinion that 1] my own values are rooted in dasein and 2] that there are no objective values "I" can reach, then every time I make one particular moral/political leap, I am admitting that I might have gone in the other direction...or that I might just as well have gone in the other direction. Then "I" begins to fracture and fragment to the point there is nothing able to actually keep it all together. At least not with respect to choosing sides morally and politically.
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Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

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Is an Existentialist Ethics Possible?
Does Sartre’s philosophy give us any clues about how we should live? Yes, says Jonathan Crowe – he showed us that we can’t avoid choosing.
In order to explore the above objections to an existentialist ethics further, it is useful to examine how Sartre approaches these issues. Sartre, generally acknowledged as the central figure of the existentialist tradition, made his best-known attempt to outline an existentialist ethics in Existentialism and Humanism, first published in 1946. In that work, Sartre argues that one is morally obliged to recognise the value of both one’s own freedom and the freedom of others.
Trust me: easier said than done given just how far removed we can become from grasping the lives of those that are very, very different from our own. This and the manner in which, in regard to our own life, the Benjamin Button Syndrome suggests there are any number of variables that are beyond our fully understanding or controlling. After all, where do you draw the line between what you were indoctrinated to believe as a child and what you have come to believe today as an adult?

And then the part where, given a particular set of circumstances, what you ascribe to be the embodiment of freedom others insist is the embodiment of slavery. Think those who embrace one or another God or No God liturgy. Think capitalism vs. socialism, genes vs. memes, "I" vs. "we", pragmatism vs. idealism, moral nihilism vs. deontology.

Instead, we have any number of moral objectivists among us who prefer to stay up in the "general description intellectual clouds".

A philosophical take:
Sartre contends that valuing other people’s freedom is necessary to maintain ‘strict consistency’. Since I cannot avoid recognising that I am inherently free, any decision not to value freedom amounts to self-deception. However, this argument has been criticised on the basis that Sartre’s appeal to ‘strict consistency’ is unjustified. Sartre seems to assume there is moral value in behaving consistently with human reality, without offering any justification for this view. As such, he appears to be drawing an unwarranted inference from description to value.
Got that? Okay, again, given a specific context likely to be familiar to most of us here, you tell me how you connect the dots between moral obligations and freedom. Then elaborate on how your own conclusions are derived from unprejudiced truths applicable to all of us essentially rather than subjective assessments rooted existentially in dasein.
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Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

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Is an Existentialist Ethics Possible?
Does Sartre’s philosophy give us any clues about how we should live? Yes, says Jonathan Crowe – he showed us that we can’t avoid choosing.
It is important to note that Sartre’s reasoning only involves an invalid inference from description to value if he is interpreted as trying to prove that freedom is valuable. In other words, the above objection understands Sartre as advancing an argument something like the following: freedom is a fundamental feature of human reality, therefore humans ought to value freedom.
Then back to the real world, however, where men and women construe freedom in very different...often conflicting...ways. Given particular sets of circumstances embedded in very different lives. Then that part where this is, in turn, by and large, the manifestation of dasein.

In other words, what I wouldn't give to have Sartre right here among us responding to the points I make regarding all of this. How, "for all practical purposes" is existential freedom itself not as likely to bring you to a fractured and fragmented moral philosophy?

Any No God existentialists here who are not themselves confronted with this:
If I am always of the opinion that 1] my own values are rooted in dasein and 2] that there are no objective values "I" can reach, then every time I make one particular moral/political leap, I am admitting that I might have gone in the other direction...or that I might just as well have gone in the other direction. Then "I" begins to fracture and fragment to the point there is nothing able to actually keep it all together. At least not with respect to choosing sides morally and politically.
All we need then is a context, right?
However, I think there is another way of reading Sartre’s argument in Existentialism and Humanism that does not involve such an invalid inference. Perhaps, rather than attempting to prove that freedom is valuable, he is arguing that the worth of freedom is self-evident; that is, if we carefully examine our ethical beliefs, we will find that we are already aware of freedom’s inherent value.
Then those like me who suggests that freedom is valuable because there is no getting around the plethora of conflicting goods in any particular human community. What are the options then?

1] might makes right where only those who are able to enforce their own political rendition of freedom prevail
2] right makes might where a consensus is reached in the community -- God or No God -- and freedom revolves around necessity
3] democracy and the rule of law where politics and elections tend to encourage moderation, negotiation and compromise among even the moral objectivists

And then those who embrace one or another rendition of moral nihilism -- sociopaths, the ruling class, the deep state -- where motivations and intentions revolve around "me, myself and I". Around political and economic power, around narcissism.
On this interpretation of Sartre’s argument, his appeal to ‘strict consistency’ is not an attempt to derive freedom’s value from the factual observation that we are free. Rather, Sartre is pointing out that, since the value of freedom is self-evident to anyone who carefully considers the nature of ethical action, it would be inconsistent for us to act in a way that undermines freedom’s moral value. In other words, any attempt to deny freedom’s worth is unsustainable because it goes against moral values that anyone would recognise, upon reflection, to be correct.
Got that? Okay, given a moral conflagration of note, you tell me how Sartre might have gone about illustrating his text.
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Re: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

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Is an Existentialist Ethics Possible?
Does Sartre’s philosophy give us any clues about how we should live? Yes, says Jonathan Crowe – he showed us that we can’t avoid choosing.
At this stage, the reader will no doubt be asking why she or he should accept the assertion that the value of freedom is simply self-evident. She or he may even be thinking that this appeal to self-evidence is a bit of a philosophical cop-out. It is true that disputes about self-evident values have an unfortunate tendency to disintegrate into mere exchanges of claim and counter-claim, with each disputant baldly asserting the obviousness of the values upon which she or he relies. However, this is not the only way to conduct such arguments.
That's not my point, of course. Instead, I focus on the what I construe to be the profoundly problematic nature of the "self" itself. We discuss things here like "freedom" and "justice" and "equity" and "value judgments". And clearly what seems "self-evident" to some regarding them seems clearly "preposterous" to others.

And I doubt that those who describe themselves as existentialists are not themselves all up and down the moral and political spectrum. It's not like one becomes an existentialist and as such gains access to insights needed to pin down good as opposed to evil behaviors.
One way to advance discussions about self-evident values would be to offer a theory that explains how the values in question fit in with other aspects of our moral perspective.

While it would clearly be unreasonable to seek proof of allegedly self-evident values – a central characteristic of self-evident truths is that they do not need proving – it does not seem implausible that one might be able to provide some kind of explanatory account of how it is that such values are self-evident.
And then eventually -- maybe, perhaps -- you can bring this new theory down out of the philosophical clouds and note how it is entirely applicable to, oh, I don't know, the actual lives we live?

Anyone here with a new theory willing to take a chance that it is self-evidently true in regard to the real world?

After all, all I can do [here] is to challenge those who claim to have access to self-evident moral truths. Why are the self-evident? How can others go about abandoning their own moral philosophies and come instead to grasp the inherent and necessary and clearly obvious nature of your own moral dogmas?
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