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Re: THE EXISTENTIAL TIMES - Vol. 1, #4

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  • Lewis Vella
    Re: THE EXISTENTIAL TIMES - Vol. 1, #4 On Mar 12, Jay Kendall wrote in schopenhauer V1 #998 ... PLEASE NOTE, the following quotation was not my own, but the
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 14, 2002
      Re: THE EXISTENTIAL TIMES - Vol. 1, #4
      On Mar 12, Jay Kendall wrote in schopenhauer V1 #998

      >Lewis Vella wrote:

      PLEASE NOTE, the following quotation was not my own,
      but the words of James Tan, excerpted from his message
      recorded in its entirety at:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WisdomForum/message/761
      Lewis

      > > sartre is the last kind of person who would tell u
      > > what u ought to do, his 'being and nothingness'
      > > precludes any possible defense of normative
      ethics.
      > > this attitude of sartre is the nihilism we have
      > > seen in kierkegaard, nietzsche, heidegger, camus,
      > > de beauvoir. to all of them, there can be no
      > > ultimate


      > Didn't you say before that you found Sartre
      > extremely boring, and stopped reading him after a
      > couple of pages? That wouldn't necessarily prevent
      > you from getting the gist of what he says from
      > secondary sources, but you need to come to terms
      > with the words you use, such as "nihilist".

      Lewis now replies:

      For starters, you, Jay, are confusing my initial
      quotation of James Tan for my own words. My words that
      follow his in my latest edition of the TIMES state the
      contrary, that the individual has a two-fold moral
      responsibility or ethic, first, to be true to himself
      --as does Sartre's philosophy state -- and second, to
      understand his relationship with the Other, that is,
      the implications of one's absolute self in
      relationship
      with all the world's other absolute selves, some
      six-billion-plus interpretations. Neglecting the
      latter responsibility, that is to neglect the holistic
      model I referred to originally, would lead inevitably
      to the nihilism (and 'the extreme boredom') we find in
      Sartre's novel 'Nausea'. My contention is that Sartre
      used the art form of the novel to show the innate
      need for a moral system, that is, if man is to accept
      peacefully, within himself, his relationship with his
      fellow man and the sometimes chaotic, sometimes
      harmonious, rhythm of the universe without.

      > You also drag in a long Nietzsche quote to group
      > Schopenhauer as nihilist, champion of the weak
      > and effete. What rubbish! Nihilism means "denial of
      > the existence of any basis for knowledge or truth."
      > It doesn't mean denial of normative (norm-based)
      > ethics, but of any basis at all for ethics. I think
      > Sartre lays out a very plausible basis of ethics,
      > quite compatible with some points in Schopenhauer.
      > The basis is: what YOU decide is true, when you
      reach
      > the point in life when you are capable of deciding.
      > Then that ethics becomes a measure of YOUR
      > performance, and no one else's. Morality means
      > self-criticism, not judgementalism directed at
      > others. Can you see the parallel with Schopenhauer?
      > Or haven't you read him either?

      Indeed, I do see the parallel. That's exactly why I
      drew on their final means of resorting to art. Without
      the literary experience that offers a semblance of the
      transcendent, their philosophy would come to a
      nihilistic dead end. To accept Plato's daemon,
      Schopenhauer's intelligible innate character you are
      born with, or Sartre's one way ticket, automatically
      creates a moral ethic serving exclusively the
      individual's will regardless of any other, save for
      the compassion one might have for the other, but,
      still, the act of denying oneself for another can be
      considered just as much a self-satisfying desire as
      would the act of denouncing the other. Hence,
      Schopenhauer and Sartre's philosophy as a
      self-contained system can't help but self-defeat
      itself. The only system that can truly justify itself
      is one that is constantly in the process of creating
      itself, as was Nietzsche and his Superman ideas.
      Nietzsche's morals were the most reputable because
      they
      were not systematically justified, but where
      demonstrated as a means and end in one. Only in
      retrospect, because Nietzsche's written words are no
      longer Nietzsche's but rather someone's interpretation
      of Nietzsche's words, can one call Nietzsche
      nihilistic. But such an interpretation, being merely a

      semiotic effect founded not on Nietzsche the person
      but on the words Nietzsche left behind, can be shaped
      virtually into whatever one pleases, be it nihilism,
      anarchism, solipsism, communism, socialism, fascism,
      capitalism, or what have you. Granted, one may say
      the same thing of Schopenhauer's or Sartre's written
      words, but we can't say that of their systems, we
      can't say whatever we like about their systems once we
      commit
      ourselves to the logic that allows for these systems
      to come into being in
      the first place.

      > Schopenhauer's concept of "eternal justice" doesn't
      > give you any right to the pursuit of happiness, as
      > the Declaration of Independence declares.
      > Eternal justice only obliges you not to deny
      > anybody else's pursuit of happiness. In other words,
      > morality means all obligations, no rights. That
      ain't > nihilism. Nietzsche called it slave morality,
      but
      > that's an entirely different issue. Schopenhauer
      > doesn't seem to me like anybody's slave.

      He and Sartre actually become enslaved by art, whereas
      Nietzsche decided just to live his art through, as
      must any true artist do to this day, that is, if he
      indeed wishes to liberate himself eternally -- though,
      admittedly so, his work, or rather any original work
      he should leave behind, in whole or in part, cannot be
      guaranteed to stand the test of time, overcome the
      differences of others, and continue the same
      liberating force it once served its creator.

      > You also allude to some issue of whether one
      > chooses one's values freely, which didn't sound
      > right. My take on Sartre is that you always DO
      > choose freely, but only once in life, and what you
      do
      > afterwards is determined by that choice. This is
      > similar to the notion in Schopenhauer that your
      > intelligible character, which you were born with,
      > somehow represents a free choice, which then impels
      > you on a determined course. Except that, in Sartre,
      > it occurs circumstantially in life, when you reach
      > the age of reason. But there is the same correlation
      > of freedom with necessity. It's similar to the
      > following commentary on Plato's idea that there is
      an > original free choice behind all of the apparent
      > determinism which governs what we become in life:
      >
      > "Yet, there is still another "form" of man, the
      > ultimate one, the one that most truly can be called
      > idea, the one that is outside time and space, the
      > one that is "outside" the "muthos", justice. How is
      > this "form" shown in the dialogue? By the summary of
      > the first part of the Republic at the beginning,that
      > is, outside the muthos! And this one is not given in

      > advance. Each one of us has to decide by himself
      > whether or not he wants to "participate" in it.
      > Becoming is not developing an initial thrust,
      > it is choosing what we want to become, within the
      > bounds of anagk� (that sets limits to the
      > demiourgosas well) and of the "laws" of the
      > "subsidiary" forms we participate in (matter, body,
      > soul)."

      http://plato-dialogues.org/email/950907_1.htm

      > The problem is your misunderstanding of what
      > nihilism means. Nihilism usually refers to a
      > cynical attitude toward, or despair of there being
      > a basis for, ethics or morality. This becomes an
      > excuse to pursue either expedience, or wanton
      > destruction for its own sake. If you had read
      > anything in, or about, Sartre, you would know that
      > he wasn't like that at all. Are you?

      Indeed, Sartre wasn't that nihilistic-like, but you
      see now it is YOU committing that misdemeanor you note
      below -- of noting the person instead of the
      philosophy. As for me, it is obvious, by the two-fold
      moral ethic I noted above and implied previously in
      the TIMES, that I'm not nihilistic. At least in my
      mind I'm not. but that don't mean you or anyone else
      might not see it that way, hence, my moral need for a
      conversation with you, and anyone else who I should
      believe may be misinterpreting me -- at least as long
      as I feel its worth my time, or maybe find it fit for
      the TIMES.

      > Another thing wrong with your statement above is
      > that you categorize Sartre among others as a "kind
      > of person" instead of dealing with his philosophy.

      Again, that was James Tan, the person I was quoting,
      not me.

      > Indeed, I think "philosopher" is the kind of
      > person he is. But that says nothing at all about
      > his philosophy.
      > Jay

      It was their art that was liberating, not their
      philosophy, their philosophy was actually
      incarcerating them, and although their art, in
      retrospect, manages seemingly to escape the manacles
      of their philosophy, we shall never know for certain
      if the actual Sartre or Schopenhauer did in fact
      escape those manacles.

      Lewis





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