Re: [Sartre] ncandau82: Sartre on Love
- I think this string began with a
discussion over whether Sartre's view
that every for-itself is in immediate
conflict with every Other permits any
real romance in a sexual relationship
(or at any rate, that's my abbreviation
of the discussion). In B&N, Sartre
describes love as a kind of
sado-masochistic struggle for domination
(pp. 361-430, esp. 364-412.) In his
"Notebooks for an Ethics," he adds to
this the observation that while this
struggle is still present, he
acknowledges that there is "No love
without deeper recognition and
reciprocal comprehension of freedoms (a
missing dimension in Being and
But he continues: "However, to attempt
to bring about a love that would surpass
the sadistic-masochistic stage of desire
and enchantment would be to make love
disappear, that is, the sexual as a type
of unveiling of the human. Tension is
necessary to maintain the two faces of
ambiguity, to hold them within the unity
of one and the same project. As soon as
one loosens the ambiguity, duality takes
over again. There is no synthesis given
as to be attained. It has to be
invented. (Similarly for the challenge
and for friendship. Cf. the Potlach)."
I won't attempt to translate this
into clearer language other than to
observe that Sartre recognizes that his
earlier description of love (in B&N) was
Sartre's own love life was perhaps
less dialectical and more more
recognizable to ordinary mortals. In
"Sartre: a Life", Annie Cohen-Solal
tells of an intensely emotional, almost
uncontrollably irrational, infatuation
Sartre experienced for a woman named
"Dolores V." whom he met on his second
trip to the U.S., in 1945-1946.
Dolores later told Cohen-Solal that he
proposed marriage (which would have
stunned Beauvoir) but she
refused--already being married. His
account to Beauvoir of his relationship
to Dolores apparently were not models of
transparency--the notion they would
conceal nothing from one another. She
is said to have asked him, "Her or me?"
His response was, "I am extraordinarily
fond of Dolores, but you are the one I
am with." (p. 278-279)
Not the kind of candor that would have
eased the concern of his lifelong
companion. In any event, we probably
should take his technical analysis of
love with a grain of salt--or a shot of
On Thu, 31 Oct 2002, "Helen Brady" wrote:
> With regards to the love question!
> could suggest that love
> exists in the out-itself model as it is
> based on a reciprocal
> relationship between compliant
> individuals. Ideally it should exist in
> an altruistic sense, in that - Im
> happy if your happy which, on
> reflection, is a form of self sacrifice
> which may have a damaging affect
> on ones authenticity. The family, I
> would presume [being the capitalist
> alienating institution it is today] may
> also affect ones authenticity.
> Being a novice to Existentialism, but
> not to Marxism have I got the
> wrong end of the stick? would you
> to elaborate?
> [Non-text portions of this message have
> been removed]
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----- Original Message -----
From: "Helen Brady" <helen@...>
Sent: Thursday, October 31, 2002 10:17 AM
Subject: Re: [Sartre] ncandau82: Sartre on Love
With regards to the 'love' question! One could suggest that 'love'
exists in the out-itself model as it is based on a reciprocal
relationship between compliant individuals. Ideally it should exist in
an altruistic sense, in that - 'I'm happy if your happy' which, on
reflection, is a form of self sacrifice which may have a damaging affect
on ones authenticity.
'Self-sacrifice' I think belongs to a different dimension of existence. I
don't think that anyone contemplating the consequences of an act of
'ultimate' love would actually consider that there are such things as
boundaries between one self and another self. I suspect that there may be a
'lack of care' for the self in that the self contemplating a selfless act
does not 'weigh' all the consequences of the act which may be a
self-sacrificing act. Sure there are those acts which are contemplated, such
as bull fighting, and other dangerous acts, where the actor is conscious of
the possible consequences; however, the actor is prepared to accept the
possible consequences apon weighing the benefits with the costs. The fact
that the bull may be harmed and itself destroyed is there, but the reason
why the bull fighter is able to engage in the act is for the love of the
spectator. Many dangerous acts are accomplished simply for the spectator.
The bull fighter if gored is perceived as selfless by the spectator, but has
no real consciousness herself of what is 'self-sacrifice' since there is no
reflection on the alternatives. There may be 'remorse' which Johnny felt
after he obtained his gun, but he perhaps did not consider the
'consequences' adequately before he Got His Gun (cf. Dalton Trombo's, Johnny
Got His Gun). The bull-fighter is fully aware of the consequences and
therefore cannot be 'self-sacrificial'; it simply comes with the job. While
Johnnie's love was 'misplaced' and inauthentic as for guns, the bull-fighter
has love which is authentic because it was what she wanted to do for the
crowd. So the bull-fighter was to become a hero, but Johnnie became
anonymous canon fodder, fertilizer. And he did not want that...
This transphenomenality (a Satrean term) means that not only is the bull an
object of consciousness, but that it also is part of a spectacle and that
spectacle plays on/out the engagement of the actor with the spectator and
the imagination, ultimately a dynamic contest between nature and nuture. The
bull symbolizing the daemonic and the practiced bull-fighter as grace
(essentially grace means understanding).
I think the intentional aspect of what we refer to as altruistic is what we
also refer to as a form of transphenomenality. We simply engage in the
'authentic' during the act; for others, then we exist only as long as we
exist for them, since they cannot exist for-their-selves. We attempt to save
them, knowing apon reflection that we are possibly about to make our own
exit, and this exit is not a 'material' exit, but a passage. Passage for me
is the supreme metaphor for the spiritual and therefore to have faith, or
good faith is to be certain that the act culminates in the passage from one
state of being or existence to a different one. The mode of being or
presence thus became saturated with meaning, and deep, uniting both
retention, history, with protention, destiny. The metaphor of the passage is
referred to in others as deep change and in the psychological sense as
passage in the self to a 'beyond', a 'higher plateau' but really a peak. A
pass in the mountains, and a passage connotes the spiritual. The metaphor of
the body making a passage through high walls, columns, and irregular spaces,
and an opening beyond.
The family, I would presume [being the capitalist
alienating institution it is today] may also affect ones authenticity.
Being a novice to Existentialism, but not to Marxism have I got the
wrong end of the stick? - would you care to elaborate?
For a family to exist there has to be some thing called value. Family itself
thus is 'feeling' and the term institution has a 'quasi legal' sense to it.
The 'enemy of family' is bureaucracy according to Robin Fox. The 'intention'
behind the term 'bureaucracy' is set of frozen rules, rough-hewn shapes that
'precast' feeling as concrete. Where there is a member of the family, a
'consanquine' perhaps, who does not contribute to the feeling, there is
I consider the 'stars' part of my family, even though I do not yet know they
live like I do....Capitalists do love to account for all transactions, all
value is no referred to as price, and the legality of having is a
'constraint' to true family. This is why Marx, et al, believed that everyone
should have what they need, and also what the deserve according to the
abilities. Capitalism only rewards the 'legal' owners of capital....and
never anyone or all.
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