THE EXISTENTIAL NEWS - Vol. 1, #2
- THE EXISTENTIAL NEWS
'A Philosophical(?)Week in Review'
Volume 1, #2
In lieu of the infamous X, I have, above, placed a
question mark following the the word 'Philosophical'.
For if the logic of Derrida's theory that seems to
question the very possibility of rational enquiry, and
which renders words all but meaningless, including the
word 'philosophical', then it stands to reason that we
are not here now, or ever, capable of truly doing
philosophy, that we are rather here just to be
individual bystanders perceiving sensation in a
invalidated world of phenomenon. But surely, you might
ask, there must be some deeper significance in the
historical process of our knowledge than to lead to
this -- the inevitable, dreaded abyss before us?
Surely, after coming this far from a bunch of food
gatherers, we were not meant to toss out everything
we've acquired to date and start all over again from
scratch. May it then be reasonable to say that this
deeper significance I presume, may be but a process of
a total absolute consciousness unfolding itself? And,
as such, is it safe to add that what we're exploring
here is not the philosophical question of being, but
rather the actual essence of being itself? I think
Gabriel Marcel answers this well in 'Homo Viator:
Introduction to a Metaphysic of Hope': "It must in no
way be mistaken for a problem of technical philosophy,
with which we are not dealing here and which involves
the question of the very existence of a superior
principle of unity which guides our personal
development. What concerns us here is only to know
under what conditions I become conscious of myself as
a person. It must be repeated that these conditions
are essentially social." -- translated by Emma
Craufurd, Glouchester, Mass., Peter Smith, 1978, p.18.
In so presenting our circumstance, let us now examine
"the ways in which being-for-themselves attempt to
deduce other beings-for-themselves into mere objects
-- beings-in-themselves -- and the ways in which
beings-for-themselves resist being reduced in this
way," (Quoted from Tommy Beavitt [sartre@yahoogr...],
01/29) and how in the course of a discursive thread,
rooted perhaps somewhere in 'Reasoning Metaphysics:
'B's Aim of Improving Standards -- Voices in My Head,
Maybe?' (posted in late Jan. on all lists in the
reception box above), did come to bud a controversial,
if not lethal, flower, posing the rather timely
question whether or not it is wiser, safer, and freer
to be mad and provided for that to be sane and not
Now as this sort of black rose started to bloom, a
swarm of invective surfaced quite rapidly around each
of her delicate petals, leaving behind a variegated
hue and cry of labels, innuendos and allegations, a
compendium of bittersweet offerings meandering to and
fro the malicious and magnificent. Voiceferous
cyberspace thoughts, exacerbating ridicule, marched
steadfast across our flashing monitors, latching on
then taking wing with whatever tattered remnants of
mind waste could be found scattered along its way:
"You are the one who speculates about whether her hear
voices in his head, not me. Look to yourself for
pathological conditions. To quote 'I suggest [th]he[y]
(seeming to be perhaps conspiring pathological liars,
these 2 list members both) go see a psychiatrist."
"[He has] bad faith . . . in that he seeks from others
what he would not provide himself."
"[He has made] outrageous claims about society."
"He was consciously seeking to scam the system in
order to avoid working."
"[But tell me] what is your definition of 'work'?
And so with the thread of the needle, we see for
ourselves now how easy it is to enter each other's
consciousness. What a fine mosaic of the mind we are
weaving here. The personalized input we are generating
from one another transforms the chaotic and
dysfunctional forces of transgression into a symphonic
melody of hope hoping against hope. And yet, out of
nowhere, there comes a need for a change of course,
sudden entreaties to bring it to a halt:
"HOW DO WE BREAK IT UP? ONLY You two can..."
But no! Can't you see? It wasn't him or me or any one
self at all. It is always the other, the one doing all
that he can to reversify the subjective with those
"Lewis has constructed an artificial person [Joe Blow]
in relation to whom he can feel superior. But this
'average Joe', this cipher as he calls him only exists
in Lewis' mind. Real people are unique and filled with
what makes them interesting. Maybe if Lewis got a job
and had to interact with real people he would come to
realize what you and I both know."
But at least I had the decency to construct a
hypothetical "artificial person" -- not like these
fine presumably employed civilized men who construct
their own "artificial person" out of a real man,
"And I do apologize for doing what amounts to making a
cyber-personality or specimen out of another human
being -- viz. Lewis, for the purpose of examining
ideas instead of using theoretical models."
"I was being very rude to 'him' but no more so than he
and you were being to 'Lewis'.
How sweet! Now that we've ripped the 'poster' boy to
shreds, lets all be nice. But by the sweat of our
brows, in the midst of all this heavy labor, is it
really necessary now to wash our hands like Pontius
Pilate. We'll only get dirty again later. It makes no
sense to me to want to depart from where we now stand
in a universal struggle, to actually wish to digress
after coming as far as we have? No, I say why not go
on as we have? For my integrity was not dealt a blow
by whatever was said in-between quotes. It was what
was implied outside the quotes that was damaging, the
automatic negation of a being-for-itself in good
faith, by the being-for-others in no, or hardly any,
faith at all:
"Well it seems like from certain points of view,
anyone's comments may be regarded as rude by someone
else. In the future, I suggest that we all try to be
nicer to each other. And while we are being nicer,
lets not take thins so personally. Personalizing
matters only serves to injure feelings and give
offense where perhaps none was intended."
So what is it that he wants here? -- that we may all
return 'nicely' to a faithless mechanized world of
But to counter that type of return, there is a
wonderful passage by Gabriel Marcel (p. 21-22) from
the same volume noted above:
"Supposing that I wish or feel bound to put a certain
person on his guard against someone else. I decide to
write him a letter to this effect. If I do not sign my
letter I am still as it were moving in a realm of
play, of pastimes, and I might readily add
mystification; I reserve to myself the possibility of
denying my action; I deliberately maintain my position
in a zone as it were halfway between dreams and
reality, where self-complacency triumph the chosen
land of those who, in our time, have made themselves
the champions of the gratuitous act. From the moment
that I sign my letter, on the contrary, I have taken
on the responsibility for it, that is to say I have
shouldered the consequenx=ces in advance. I have
created the irrevocable not only for the other person
but for myself. Of my free will I have brought into
existence new decisions which well bear upon my own
life with all their weight. This, of course, does not
exclude the possibility that it was a reprehensible,
perhaps even a criminal action to write the letter.
There is nevertheless a radical difference of quality,
or more exactly of weight, between this action and
that of writing a letter without signing it. Let us
repeat that I tend to establish myself as a person in
so far as I assume responsibility for my acts and so
behave as a real being (rather than a dreamer who
reserve the strange power of modifying dreams, without
having to trouble whether this modification has any
repercussions in the hypothetical outside world in
which everybody else dwells. From the same point of
view we might also say that I establish myself as a
person in so far as I really believe in the existence
others and allow this belief to influence my
Copyright: 2002 Lewis Vella
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- At 1:59 pm -0800 10/2/02, Lewis Vella wrote:
>It was whatGreat writing. But I'm not sure about this point. Are you implying
>was implied outside the quotes that was damaging, the
>automatic negation of a being-for-itself in good
>faith, by the being-for-others in no, or hardly any,
>faith at all:
that you are the being-for-itself while we (those who put you in
quotes) are the being-for-others? So what is the question of faith?
I guess that you are attempting to be sincere which is something I
also attempt. And you are resisting "our" attempts to interpret your
sincerity as bad faith by implying that you are identified with the
"process of a total absolute consciousness unfolding itself" while we
others are not/do not recognise it.
I think this is fair enough, but it can't be taken too far because
"we" (or, in this case, I) are also quite capable of identifying
"our" selves with the "process of a total absolute consciousness
unfolding itself" in opposition to your claim that "we" are
"beings-for-others" in bad faith. From "our" respective perspectives
we are all, genuinely, being sincere - well, at least to the extent
that we, as a discussion forum, agree that sincerity is possible.
In my cosmology, the process of a total absolute consciousness
unfolding itself is life, but it is not an individual life. Because
of the problem of the ego, it is not possible to identify oneself
with *the* process without also casting others/The Other as being not
identified with the process or even identified with an opposing
process. So all we can do is identify ourselves with *our* process
(and, possibly, hold out for the existence in theory of a "the"
process). So the question of sincerity has to do with the extent that
your process is identical to my process and the points on which we
agree they differ.
If you can solve the ego problem - perhaps by destroying it, but
somehow keeping "your" life - then I grant you your identification
with a "the" process of total absolute consciousness unfolding. But
if this were so you wouldn't be so keen to demonstrate it to me/us.
You wouldn't think that your reduction into a mere "" object was an
issue because there wouldn't be a "you", there would only be a "the"
total absolute consciousness unfolding.