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Re: [Sartre] communication and essence

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  • Christopher Bobo
    I, too, sensed a little imprecision in the use of the term essence and a resulting discussion at cross-purposes. For Sartre and Hegel, essence is what has
    Message 1 of 1 , May 24, 2001

      I, too, sensed a little imprecision in the use of the term "essence" and a resulting discussion at cross-purposes.  For Sartre and Hegel, essence is what has been.  Sartre calls it man's past.  Since there is no pre-established pattern for human nature, each man makes his essence as he lives.  Sartre was, I think, interested in the essence of human consciousness, as this definition of essence exists.  His disuccsion of essence is limited to the ontology of phenomena, yet when we discuss it, we often slip into speaking as if we were talking about noumenal things-in-themselves.  Thus, as a description in the form of a phenomenological ontology, Sartre could be right, while from the speculative view of metaphysics one might still maintain that is some sense essence precedes existence.
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Mike
      Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2001 9:52 AM
      To: Sartre@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [Sartre] communication

      Well, genitalia was not particularly where I was taking it.  What I
      would wish to point out in this great discussion about "essence" ...
      which seems to have different meanings to everyone who posts on this
      board ... is simply to differentiate between a catagory and an
      identity.  Essence?  Well, what is that?  If you start with a vague
      term like Essence or Being, you get vague answers.

      I do tend to agree that to some extent, like Ayer I suppose, that all
      metaphysics is futile.  But, metaphysics is not the same as
      phenomenology.  My experience of a divine inspiration or a sandwhich
      (its lunch time, friends) still must be described because it was a
      phenomenological reality to me.

      I still think that Leibniz is popping up again.  Quite frankly, it
      never quites gets past the Principle of Sufficient Reason.  Essence
      is not a existent fact, but a truth which we infer through logic ...
      therefore it is not a FACT.  Merely a form of the truth ... to you.

      I don't think my argument (or point or whatever) is about language as
      much as how language should be about practicle usage.  It is the dove-
      tail between two modes of thought, I guess.

      With Sartre, I always got the importance of being in the world.  I
      understand how he extends Husserl's ideas and give them a personal
      quality.  By doing that, he definitely takes himself out of system
      building philosophy ... and, by the same token, you cannot infer that
      his truth is yours.  I think he would agree.  Sartre's essay on
      writing is very clearly an instruction on how to read his work.  It
      is conversation.  It is a communication of his ideas and that is all
      the writer is ever interested in.  Communication.  I don't think he
      is very prescriptive about how we should think about it nor even that
      we should feel the same thing.

      This is my only point:  Words have to have meaning.  Yes, they are
      contingent, generally, but that is not to say they have no definite
      meaning at all.  To say "What you mean by "mean"?  What do you mean
      by "say"? What do you mean by "What"?" is no argument or philosophy.
      Someone brought up sex and nationality and made the point of defining
      them as "Race" and "sexuality" ... and I took them as "place of
      birth" and "physical sex: male or female."  There are two types of
      definitions and both are contingent ... but, the second catagory of
      meaning (ie. my interpretation) is not open for essence.  It is mere
      existence.  It is fact.  In fact, in my opinion, the question being
      applied to these meanings is irrelevant.  A baby can't decide before
      its born what sex to be or where to be born, of what parents, etc...

      And, a further point is quite simply ... this question might not have
      any meaning at all.


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