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Re: Existence preceding Essence?

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  • DJRNews@aol.com
    Dear Michael, I very much appreciate your reply. I certainly agree that the slogan is unfortunate, and your reason for saying so I find well said . I was
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 31 5:05 PM
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      Dear Michael,

      I very much appreciate your reply. I certainly agree that the slogan is
      unfortunate, and your reason for saying so I find "well said". I was going
      to say previously that I am surprised that Sartreans overuse this slogan
      without (at least) giving paraphrases. From what I understand Sartre would
      take the following to be synonymous with "existence precedes essence..."

      Being-for-itself [Existence] is what it is [its essence] in the mode of not
      being it.

      The expressions 'transcendence', 'withdrawal' and 'nihilation' are also used
      to express the
      internal relation of intentional consciousness to its object.
      In support of Sartre I would suggest that by "preceding" he means a
      logical (or ontological) priority rather than a chronological one. This
      distinction should be familiar from Kantian terms like a priori and a
      posteriori. You are right that this precedence is confusing, though, and
      likely to be construed as chronological and external.
      More importantly, you suggest that to provide myself with an essence is
      bad faith. I am confused about this. It would be easy to take Sartre as
      meaning that I am simply not m,y ego, or nature, or essence, or
      being-for-others, etc. But he expresses the ontological relation in terms
      of, I think, an intentional ambiguity. I am my facticity in the mode of not
      being it. I think that for Sartre I "am" my essence ambiguously. Hence, it
      could be bad faith to say categorically either that I am a homosexual, or
      that I am not one. I am homosexual in an ambiguous way, in the way of being
      always potentially more than "homosexual". In the terms you favour: freedom
      would deceive itself equally by playing at being determined by an essence or
      by pretending to by an abstract absolute isolated from any situation. I am
      free in the mode of being free in relation to this concrete situation.
      I think we are in broad agreement, but I know that existentialism has
      been criticised for exaggerating this freedom abstracted from any situation,
      and I think that isn't quite what Sartre means.

      All the best,

      Don.
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