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  • Tommy Beavitt
    I am interested to pick up on this point of Richard s concerning duplicity. He apparently wishes us to attack Henry Kissinger on the grounds of his duplicity
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 31, 2002
      I am interested to pick up on this point of Richard's concerning
      duplicity. He apparently wishes us to attack Henry Kissinger on the
      grounds of his duplicity using Sartre's ontology. While I certainly
      don't dispute that Henry Kissinger mightn't have two or more faces
      which he shows to the person to whom he is communicating depending on
      who he thinks they might be, I do dispute that Sartrean ontology
      could in any way be used to condemn such behaviour.

      At 11:05 am -0800 20/12/02, Richard Radandt wrote:
      >Sartre is of interest in the ontology of Being. He argues you and I
      >listen to the shit of theology and ethics. We refuse to condemn
      >Cardinal Law for sins against humanity. We refuse to condemn Ariel
      >Sharon for genocide and omnicide. We refuse to condemn Ken Lay and
      >Bernie Ebbers of stealing the labor power of workers. We refuse to
      >condemn Henry Kissinger of duplicity

      Sartre was concerned to distinguish between a person's being and the
      so called facts pertaining to them that have been attributed to them
      by others. For example, if I need money and take a job as a waiter I
      will play the role of waiter, pouring wine and carrying dishes for
      customers, and those customers will construe me in this role. They
      will not directly apprehend my being. I am only being in bad faith
      here if I try to pretend to myself that all I am is "a waiter", that
      this role exhausts my being and the freedom to determine myself as
      some other, or indeed, many other things is not mine.

      When Henry Kissinger constituted himself as Secretary of State under
      Nixon he was well aware of the complexities demanded by this role and
      of the fact that to discharge this role effectively he would have to
      say one thing to one person and quite another thing to another. Any
      discrepancies between any such things said that might come to light
      for example under the scrutiny of the media would be explained by the
      different contexts within which things were said. As anyone who has
      performed any public facing or management role already knows, this is
      not an easy thing to accomplish and demands particular skills. These
      skills are not entirely dissimilar to those developed in ontology by

      When Kissinger established an international consultancy he was aware
      that the value of any services sold under the auspices of that
      consultancy would depend on a tacit understanding that certain things
      said within that context must not be said in a different context
      otherwise they would breach the expectation developed by the client.
      Kissinger was right to refuse to accept the job of Coordinator of
      Homeland Security or whatever it was because it would not have been
      possible - even for him - to reconcile different truths to the
      different needs of different clients or employers. This does not,
      under Sartrean ontology, necessarily call into disrepute any of these
      conflicting truths. I believe your interpretation of Sartre on this
      point is erroneous.

      If someone is calling one of these truths "the only truth" and
      killing those who disagree then we have an issue. But this doesn't
      make Kissinger"duplicitous". Or, if it does, it implies that
      duplicity - multiplicity even - is a valuable skill that all Sartrean
      philosophers should develop.

      Tommy Beavitt



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