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THE EXISTENTIAL NEWS - Vol. 1, #2

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  • Lewis Vella
    THE EXISTENTIAL NEWS A Philosophical(?)Week in Review Volume 1, #2 Hello all, In lieu of the infamous X, I have, above, placed a question mark following the
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 10, 2002
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      THE EXISTENTIAL NEWS

      'A Philosophical(?)Week in Review'
      Volume 1, #2

      Hello all,

      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
      provided for.

      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
      soul-stealing quotations:

      "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,
      namely me.

      "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
      ciphers?

      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
      conduct...."

      Copyright: 2002 Lewis Vella

      Specific references to discussionary comments guoted
      above are availabe upon request, or by reviewing
      messages dated 2/5 to 2/7 at:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WisdomForum/messages

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    • Tommy Beavitt
      ... Great writing. But I m not sure about this point. Are you implying that you are the being-for-itself while we (those who put you in quotes) are the
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 11, 2002
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        At 1:59 pm -0800 10/2/02, Lewis Vella wrote:
        >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:

        Great writing. But I'm not sure about this point. Are you implying
        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.

        Tommy
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