Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [Sartre] Re: holocausts

Expand Messages
  • Tommy Beavitt
    Thank you Stephen, for your though provoking response. ... I will answer only those which refer to my previous posting. ... No, I don t think in this case I am
    Message 1 of 26 , Jun 30, 2003
    • 0 Attachment
      Thank you Stephen, for your though provoking response.

      >Responses to Ogie and Tommy:

      I will answer only those which refer to my previous posting.

      > > --- In Sartre@yahoogroups.com, Tommy Beavitt <tommy@c...> wrote:
      >
      >> > To bring this thread back into topicality, I suggest that Sartre
      >> > would also have objected to any discussion about race or holocaust
      >> > that attempted to ground itself in the world of facts.
      >
      >I think you are exaggerating Sartre's subjectivism. Some beliefs are the
      >result of an act of will, but if purely wilful, they have an element of bad
      >faith. This is because I must at some level know my real cognitive
      >situation, otherwise why would an act of will be necessary. But once an
      >insult is thrown, atrocity committed, my will is no longer unconfined. I
      >have to respond (for no response is still a response). Then I am responding
      >to an objective situation, albeit intersubjectively created. Are you sure
      >you aren't reading more recent French and other subjectivist philosophy back
      >into Sartre?

      No, I don't think in this case I am exaggerating Sartre's
      subjectivism. What I think we are unclear about is the ontological
      category to which phenomena like "race" and "holocaust" belong. I
      also think you may be misinterpreting Sartre to state that acts of
      will (if purely willful) are in bad faith. What IS in bad faith,
      according to my reading of Sartre, are acts that deny the contingent
      nature of the actor. To play the part of a waiter is not bad faith,
      but to think that a waiter is what one IS, is.

      I see what you mean about an "objective situation, albeit
      subjectively created." But do situations really exist in the same
      class as objects? Am I not still free to interpret a situation
      according to a particular belief in its outcome?

      > > > In his
      >> > Antisemite and Jew, he pointed to the way that antisemites and Jews
      >> > use one another to reinforce their respective self-identities; the
      >> > former, in terms of discovering a scapegoat for the kinds of
      > > > invisible economic control that appear to limit a person or a
      > > > people's ability to self-determine, and the latter in terms of
      > > > maintaining a persecution myth that justifies the "Chosen People"
      >> > label and the right for a racial homeland.
      >
      >This suggests that they are on the same moral level. It also suggests that
      >a collective identity cannot have a positive, as well as a defensive
      >content - neither of which you have established.

      Well, not quite on the same moral level, because always one is
      victim, the other aggressor. But they are both actors within a
      contiguous moral drama, certainly.

      I don't believe I implied that collective identities cannot have
      positive or defensive content. Not for one minute!

      > > > Just because both these
      >> > myths become self-fulfilling doesn't require for them to have any
      > > > kind of factual basis. The facts come after the myth-making, not
      > > > before. As Sartre said, "if the Jews did not exist, they would
      > > > require to be invented."
      >
      >It doesn't prevent the basis of fact influencing our identities either. I
      >am presented with a tradition. I can accept or reject it, but quite
      >possibly I cannot ignore it. So it affects my identity. As the medievals
      >said: Man both acts and is acted on. Sartre exaggerates our freedom. Then
      >Tommy exaggerates Sartre.

      Again, how is a tradition a "fact?" There is a tradition of referring
      to a holocaust in the Philippines. Does that make it [the holocaust]
      a fact? Or is it the tradition that is the fact?

      I suppose what both objects and artefacts have in common is that they
      are subject to our perception and interpretation. As mental objects,
      they are analogous, and that to which the mental image refers in each
      case is probably equally unknowable. Can anyone remind me how Sartre
      resolved this issue? What is the ontological status of a cultural
      construct?

      Tommy
      --
      -
      http://www.scoraig.com

      Aite nan Easgann, Achmore, Dundonnell, Ross-shire, IV23 2RE

      UK Orange mobile +44 (0)7966 294458
      If calling from a UK or international landline please ask me to call you back
    • ian buick
      Reading many of the posts on this list - and taking as an example Tommy s post on the Holocaust - I m struck by the existence of two Sartre s - the early and
      Message 2 of 26 , Jul 3, 2003
      • 0 Attachment
        Reading many of the posts on this list - and taking as an example Tommy's
        post on the Holocaust - I'm struck by the existence of two Sartre's - the
        early and the mature one: the existentialist Sartre of Being and Nothingness
        and the existentialist Marxist Sartre of the Critique.

        Take for the example the debate about the epistemological value of facts.
        Tommy states, "I suggest that Sartre would also have objected to any
        discussion about race or holocaust that attempted to ground itself in the
        world of facts." and goes on to quote the essay Anti semite and Jew in
        support.

        Now, I think he is correct in this. The early Sartre was not so interested
        in facts - and his Anti semite and Jew belongs to his early period. However,
        once he had been convinced of the epistemological and heuristic superiority
        of Marx's method over that of the phenomenological method, he was most
        certainly interested in facts (as was Marx.) Sartre's massive work on
        Flaubert attempts a totalisation based upon several decades of accumulation
        of the available facts on the writer's life and times. In the Search for a
        Method the regressive part of his progressive regressive method requires an
        intimate knowledge of the facts - as is clear in chapter 3 of 'the Search'

        I don't want to develop the argument on facts here (although it is necessary
        to point out that Sartre believed that facts alone are useless; they need to
        be situated with other relevant facts in a totalisation,). It is only an
        example - the point is that the mature Sartre disagreed in significant
        respects with the early Sartre

        Tommy solves this problem by writing off the later Sartre: ''I believe that,
        although understandable, Marxism was the wrong
        direction for Sartre to take away from existentialism.(and in the process
        presents a ridiculous caricature of Marxism that I will have to reply to in
        another post - (said in a comradely manner Tommy! :)).

        The point is; which Sartre do we believe - the younger man or the mature
        man. Many of you will probably know of a similar debate in the 60s about the
        works of Marx where Louis Althusser posited an epistemological break between
        the works of the early Marx and the superior works of the Capital period. I
        would like to argue that there is a similar break in Sartre, (although I am
        not qualified to locate exactly where!) and that Sartre in his fifties
        produced his most significant philosophical writings, which under the
        influence of the Marxist method situated human freedom within a framework of
        necessity - Man makes his own history, but not in conditions of his own
        choosing. He is made by history, but goes beyond it to change that which has
        made him.




        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Tommy Beavitt
        Dear Ian, Thank you for this post which raises an interesting point about Sartre s philosophy (and how this discussion group can define it). To the extent that
        Message 3 of 26 , Jul 4, 2003
        • 0 Attachment
          Dear Ian,

          Thank you for this post which raises an interesting point about
          Sartre's philosophy (and how this discussion group can define it). To
          the extent that I am qualified to do so, I agree about the difference
          between early and later Sartrean thinking. Actually, I know very
          little about Sartre's later work. It would be very interesting to
          have a discussion of these by those, such as yourself, who might be
          able to shed some light on the matter.

          >Reading many of the posts on this list - and taking as an example Tommy's
          >post on the Holocaust - I'm struck by the existence of two Sartre's - the
          >early and the mature one: the existentialist Sartre of Being and Nothingness
          >and the existentialist Marxist Sartre of the Critique.
          >
          >Take for the example the debate about the epistemological value of facts.
          >Tommy states, "I suggest that Sartre would also have objected to any
          >discussion about race or holocaust that attempted to ground itself in the
          >world of facts." and goes on to quote the essay Anti semite and Jew in
          >support.
          >
          >Now, I think he is correct in this. The early Sartre was not so interested
          >in facts - and his Anti semite and Jew belongs to his early period. However,
          >once he had been convinced of the epistemological and heuristic superiority
          >of Marx's method over that of the phenomenological method, he was most
          >certainly interested in facts (as was Marx.) Sartre's massive work on
          >Flaubert attempts a totalisation based upon several decades of accumulation
          >of the available facts on the writer's life and times. In the Search for a
          >Method the regressive part of his progressive regressive method requires an
          >intimate knowledge of the facts - as is clear in chapter 3 of 'the Search'
          >
          >I don't want to develop the argument on facts here (although it is necessary
          >to point out that Sartre believed that facts alone are useless; they need to
          >be situated with other relevant facts in a totalisation,). It is only an
          >example - the point is that the mature Sartre disagreed in significant
          >respects with the early Sartre

          I would defend the emphasis that that this list has tended to place
          on the early position defined in Being and Nothingness because I feel
          that this is the part of Sartre's work that can be truly said to be
          seminal. Existentialism was one of the most significant developments
          in western philosophy in the twentieth century and B&N can be said to
          be possibly the most influential single work in this movement. As you
          rightly say, Sartre's epistemological turn was away from the
          phenomenological method towards the Marxist accumulation of facts
          within a totalisation. However, his development of Marxist thought
          would not on its own have confirmed him as one of the greatest
          philosophers of the 20th century, whereas his work on existentialism
          did.

          I feel that this direction was an error for Sartre and existentialism
          (although this is not to deny the contribution of Marxism to
          sociology, economics, political science and other disciplines - as
          well as the course of modern history). The position outlined in B&N
          was revolutionary then and it still is now. What keeps existentialism
          so exciting is the challenge it poses to the cod-philosophical
          thinking that underpins many common assumptions about the nature of
          reality. While not seeking to deny the existence of facts,
          existentialism does doubt their relevance to most questions within
          contemporary philosophy. By distinguishing between being-in-itself
          and being-for-itself, and by admitting the critical role played by
          the latter ontological category in establishing the particular
          "totalisation" that is the world within which being-for-itself finds
          itself, existentialism forces us to accept that the majority of what
          we call reality is independent of facts - or we run the risk of being
          in bad faith.

          It is important to me to defend this existentialist position because
          in my opinion the role of philosophy is to neither attempt to refute
          materiality or the scientific method (as per idealism) nor to attempt
          to subsume philosophy within science (as the logical positivists
          attempted to do) but rather to take for itself those areas of enquiry
          that are outwith the scope of science. Facts are facts, but they
          don't explain the world within which we find ourselves. A
          totalisation is an attempt to accumulate enough facts so as to
          present an irrefutable argument - but this is scientism, the attempt
          to take science beyond its natural limits. The basic disagreement
          between Americans and Filipinos as to whether a genocidal holocaust
          was prosecuted by imperialist occupiers in Balangiga could never be
          resolved according to a totalisation of facts. If we attempted to do
          this we would discover that the Americans would, due to their
          superior resources, accumulate more facts and use the
          hegemony-reinforcing function of language to "win" the argument. This
          is my basic problem with Marxism. It can never hope to beat global
          capitalists at their own game because it will be always
          under-resourced. Let us be clear about this: the totalisation method
          is playing global capitalists AT THEIR OWN GAME.

          >Tommy solves this problem by writing off the later Sartre: ''I believe that,
          >although understandable, Marxism was the wrong
          >direction for Sartre to take away from existentialism.(and in the process
          >presents a ridiculous caricature of Marxism that I will have to reply to in
          >another post - (said in a comradely manner Tommy! :)).

          You are correct to state that my understanding of Marxism is not all
          that subtle. That is because I came up against what I perceived to be
          this basic stumbling block pretty early in my studies. But I would
          warmly welcome an attempt to "re-educate" me!

          >The point is; which Sartre do we believe - the younger man or the mature
          >man. Many of you will probably know of a similar debate in the 60s about the
          >works of Marx where Louis Althusser posited an epistemological break between
          >the works of the early Marx and the superior works of the Capital period. I
          >would like to argue that there is a similar break in Sartre, (although I am
          >not qualified to locate exactly where!) and that Sartre in his fifties
          >produced his most significant philosophical writings, which under the
          >influence of the Marxist method situated human freedom within a framework of
          >necessity - Man makes his own history, but not in conditions of his own
          >choosing. He is made by history, but goes beyond it to change that which has
          >made him.

          I think that there is a general agreement that later Sartre had some
          areas of fundamental disagreement with early Sartre. It would be an
          interesting discussion to posit where this turn occurred, and to
          relate it to events in 20th century history.

          all the best

          Tommy
          --
          -
          http://www.scoraig.com

          Aite nan Easgann, Achmore, Dundonnell, Ross-shire, IV23 2RE

          UK Orange mobile +44 (0)7966 294458
          If calling from a UK or international landline please ask me to call you back
        • Stephen Cowley
          Tommy, In inadequate reply to your question, I think to go further we should consult Being and Nothingness, particularly PART 4.1.II Freedom and Facticity: the
          Message 4 of 26 , Jul 4, 2003
          • 0 Attachment
            Tommy,

            In inadequate reply to your question, I think to go further we should
            consult Being and Nothingness, particularly PART 4.1.II Freedom and
            Facticity: the Situation. Glancing at it it seems more nuanced than I gave
            Sartre credit for: he was a great philosopher after all.

            Ian:
            > Many of you will probably know of a similar debate in the 60s about the
            > works of Marx where Louis Althusser posited an epistemological break
            between
            > the works of the early Marx and the superior works of the Capital period.

            Louis Althusser that did his poor wife in and ended up in the Paris loony
            bin? (ad hominem yes, but some of is have limits here!).

            Stephen
          • ian buick
            Stephen Looks more like an attempt at risus sophisticus than ad hominem to me. ;) Yes , Althusser s career did have a tragic ending but I don t think this
            Message 5 of 26 , Jul 6, 2003
            • 0 Attachment
              Stephen
              Looks more like an attempt at risus sophisticus than ad hominem to me. ;)
              Yes , Althusser's career did have a tragic ending but I don't think this
              detracts from the enormity of his theoretical enterprise - even although I
              disagreed with him at the time, an still do. It's also interesting to note
              that much of his early theory was developed in opposition to Sartre's ideas,
              which he viewed as prime examples of humanism and historicism.(against
              which he posed marxist science).

              ian


              Ian:
              > Many of you will probably know of a similar debate in the 60s about the
              > works of Marx where Louis Althusser posited an epistemological break
              between
              > the works of the early Marx and the superior works of the Capital
              period.

              Louis Althusser that did his poor wife in and ended up in the Paris loony
              bin? (ad hominem yes, but some of is have limits here!).

              Stephen


              Yahoo! Groups Sponsor



              To unsubscribe, e-mail: Sartre-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com


              Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • ian buick
              Hi Tommy, Thanks for your thoughtful reply and your attempt to articulate various aspects of your position. I think we agree on several points. Firstly
              Message 6 of 26 , Jul 7, 2003
              • 0 Attachment
                Hi Tommy,
                Thanks for your thoughtful reply and your attempt to articulate various
                aspects of your position. I think we agree on several points.

                Firstly Sartre's two major philosophical works - B&N and the Critique are
                connected but radically different. Therefore when we talk about what Sartre
                thought it is important to be aware that in the 1950s he radically rethought
                his early philosophy, rejecting many earlier positions and radically
                revising others. (Some would also say there was a third Sartre - the sartre
                of the final phase who under the influence of Benny Levi has been
                interpreted as viewing messianic judaism as a source of hope)

                Secondly, I think we both agree with Sartre that philosophy, far from being
                a subject for abstract speculation is something that is alive and acts as a
                reference point for how to construct our lives. I think it is legitimate to
                take Being and Nothingness as a springboard to develop existentialism in a
                different way. You don't say so explicitly but from the footnote on your
                mails you seem interested in developing a system of ethics - perjhaps along
                the lines of that promised by sartre at the end of B&N. This would be much
                in the spirit of Sartre who steadfastly refused to view philosophy as a mass
                of dead knowledge and insisted on it as something to be lived.

                One main reason for me rejecting the early Sartre is the description of the
                world as populated by individuals afraid of being objectified the other.
                'Hell is other people' does not provide a recognisable description of the
                world for me and offers no basis for social development. Good philosophy has
                to provide a good description and explanation of the phenomena of the world,
                and this is not the world I know (it being the world of the sartre described
                in Les Mots!). However, there are many descriptions of the human condition
                that I accept -e.g bad faith.

                For me Sartre's recognition in the Critique of the conditioning factors
                affecting individual freedom that develop from the basic state of scarcity;
                and his analysis of groups provides a possible escape from this 'hell'

                [On a personal anecdotal level, my interest in the later Sartre is that of
                someone who has been a Marxist from his early twenties and is interested in
                Sartre's project of rethinking Marxism ( I did read B&N during my university
                time -without it making any great impression on me- and have reread it with
                greater sympathy more recently and with greater awareness of the radical,
                anti bourgeois positionlaid down there}

                Regards

                Ian


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Tommy Beavitt
                Yes, the points of agreement are clear. I will work through them until I get to the nub! ... The point about messianic juduaism is interesting. Can you point
                Message 7 of 26 , Jul 11, 2003
                • 0 Attachment
                  Yes, the points of agreement are clear. I will work through them
                  until I get to the nub!

                  >Hi Tommy,
                  >Thanks for your thoughtful reply and your attempt to articulate various
                  >aspects of your position. I think we agree on several points.
                  >
                  >Firstly Sartre's two major philosophical works - B&N and the Critique are
                  >connected but radically different. Therefore when we talk about what Sartre
                  >thought it is important to be aware that in the 1950s he radically rethought
                  >his early philosophy, rejecting many earlier positions and radically
                  >revising others. (Some would also say there was a third Sartre - the sartre
                  >of the final phase who under the influence of Benny Levi has been
                  >interpreted as viewing messianic judaism as a source of hope)

                  The point about messianic juduaism is interesting. Can you point me
                  towards a source of such an interpretation? I can see how the
                  position in Antisemite and Jew could have evolved in this way. If it
                  is true that, "if Jews didn't exist it would be necessary to invent
                  them", then one can quite quickly come around to the view of the Jew
                  as somehow pivotal to the evolution of humankind.

                  For me this doesn't work, however. I am still stuck on the idea of
                  bad faith as that anti-philosophical attitude that prevents one from
                  seeing things as they actually are. As soon as we identify with a
                  label, eg. "waiter" or "Jew" and start behaving as if a waiter or a
                  Jew is what we actually ARE, then we lose the opportunity to focus on
                  the more accurate ontological depiction: what we ARE is being (both
                  in and for itself) and its corollary, nothingness. The general bad
                  faith of the Judaistic faith consists in its adherents'
                  identification with the label "Jew" and the corresponding racialist
                  designation "the Chosen People".

                  >Secondly, I think we both agree with Sartre that philosophy, far from being
                  >a subject for abstract speculation is something that is alive and acts as a
                  >reference point for how to construct our lives. I think it is legitimate to
                  >take Being and Nothingness as a springboard to develop existentialism in a
                  >different way. You don't say so explicitly but from the footnote on your
                  >mails you seem interested in developing a system of ethics - perjhaps along
                  >the lines of that promised by sartre at the end of B&N. This would be much
                  >in the spirit of Sartre who steadfastly refused to view philosophy as a mass
                  >of dead knowledge and insisted on it as something to be lived.

                  Yes, I couldn't agree more. The philosophically-minded among us do
                  actually behave as if our philosophies were true. Take away the
                  philosophy and you take away the behaviour that is predicated upon
                  the belief contained within the philosophy. I am much taken with the
                  view of Montaigne, who wrote "To Philosophize is to learn how to
                  die". For the non-philosophical, death is a mystery better not dwelt
                  upon. Thinking about death for these people tends to invalidate all
                  other activity. Wheras for philosophers this is not sufficient. We
                  need somehow to reconcile the other things we do with the fact of our
                  impending deaths.

                  It IS legitimate to take B&N as a springboard to develop
                  existentialism in a different way. And just because Sartre used it as
                  a springboard towards Marxism doesn't mean that this is the only
                  direction in which it was headed.

                  >One main reason for me rejecting the early Sartre is the description of the
                  >world as populated by individuals afraid of being objectified the other.
                  >'Hell is other people' does not provide a recognisable description of the
                  >world for me and offers no basis for social development. Good philosophy has
                  >to provide a good description and explanation of the phenomena of the world,
                  >and this is not the world I know (it being the world of the sartre described
                  >in Les Mots!). However, there are many descriptions of the human condition
                  >that I accept -e.g bad faith.

                  Really? You have never thought to yourself (eg. as you struggle
                  through rush-hour crowds or witness a drunken knifing or a war) that
                  "Hell is other people"? I can see why you can feel that this isn't a
                  satisfactory CONCLUSION for a philosophy, but surely it is a valid
                  STARTING POINT?

                  But to the specific point about objectification and fear about it. In
                  fact, people living in bad faith aren't afraid of objectification.
                  Indeed, it is possible that some are so much in bad faith that they
                  aren't aware that there is a difference between their objectification
                  by the Other and who they ACTUALLY ARE! Admittedly even the most
                  philosophically unsophisticated will still experience a sense of
                  chafing at the bonds that restrict their freedom. But they won't
                  rationalise this as being the result of their objectification by the
                  Other, but will rather assume that it is because they haven't got
                  enough money or because they live in a country with an imperfect
                  political system.

                  >For me Sartre's recognition in the Critique of the conditioning factors
                  >affecting individual freedom that develop from the basic state of scarcity;
                  >and his analysis of groups provides a possible escape from this 'hell'

                  It is interesting to me how you (and Sartre in the Critique)
                  characterise individual freedom (as conditioned by factors emanating
                  from the "basic state of scarcity"). Is individual freedom absolute?
                  Or is it relative to the social context? If the former, then how can
                  conditions of scarcity affect it? Surely, my absolute freedom would
                  consist eg. in my ability to choose whether to kill myself or not,
                  and this is not affected by "a basic state of scarcity". If
                  individual freedom is instead relative to social context then it is
                  not really "individual" freedom at all, because it is impossible to
                  conceive of the individual without recourse to context.

                  I have to confess that I have not read the Critique so please show me
                  if I am misinterpreting your position.

                  I tend to view groups as being at least as autonomous as individuals.
                  From a communicationalist perspective, they conform to similar
                  criteria: they exist, they act, they rationalise, they communicate,
                  they can be destroyed. Individuals within a group exist both as
                  individuals and as role-players within that group. Although
                  individual roles can change as a group evolves, this cannot be said
                  to be individual freedom. The role is determined by the needs of the
                  group. One of the criteria to which a "group" must conform, it seems
                  to me, is that roles are substitutable. If my conception of my
                  individual freedom prevents me from playing a particular role within
                  a group (perhaps because the group insists that, in order for me to
                  play the role properly, I must agree that I AM that role, therefore
                  putting me in bad faith) then that group can expel me and find
                  another individual to play that role.

                  >[On a personal anecdotal level, my interest in the later Sartre is that of
                  >someone who has been a Marxist from his early twenties and is interested in
                  >Sartre's project of rethinking Marxism ( I did read B&N during my university
                  >time -without it making any great impression on me- and have reread it with
                  >greater sympathy more recently and with greater awareness of the radical,
                  >anti bourgeois positionlaid down there}

                  If by "bourgeois" you mean the They, the combined objectifying power
                  of aggregate Other, then I am happy to agree with you. However, I
                  suspect you may be employing a specifically Marxist, class-based
                  conception, and can't therefore agree that B&N is "anti bourgeois".
                  If the Revolution had taken place according to Marx' prediction, the
                  bourgeois capital-holding class abolished and the working class given
                  its rightful place in charge of the means of production, aggregate
                  Other would still attempt to objectify individuals, defining them by
                  their roles within groups, within society, and encouraging them to be
                  in bad faith.

                  The specific objectifying power of the capitalist classes in the
                  developed West is insidious indeed, but no more so than in a
                  socialist dictatorship. If my individual freedom is absolute and
                  dependent only on my philosophical courage in rejecting the bad faith
                  of my objectification by Other, then it really doesn't matter if it
                  is credit card companies, secret police or my girlfriend that are
                  attempting to hold me to a particular definition. I can still choose
                  the manner of my own being - or my own nothingness.

                  Tommy
                  --
                  Join us at Communicationalism, the attempt to find a basis for ethics
                  in communication rather than survival
                  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/communicationalism/
                • ian buick
                  Hi Tommy - -The point about messianic juduaism is interesting. Can you point me ... The text, which was originally published in Le nouvel Observateur shortly
                  Message 8 of 26 , Jul 11, 2003
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Hi Tommy
                    - > -The point about messianic juduaism is interesting. Can you point me
                    > towards a source of such an interpretation?

                    The text, which was originally published in Le nouvel Observateur shortly
                    after Sartre's death in 1980 is available in book form as HOPE NOW. The
                    text consists of interviews conducted by Benny Levi, during the last 8 years
                    or so of Sartre's life when Levi was his secretary. Levi, who under the name
                    of Pierre Victor was the leader of a Maoist group in the 60s and early 70s,
                    gradually converted to orthodox Judaism during the time he worked with
                    Sartre. Sartre at this time was becoming senile, and Levi talked of his work
                    with him as comparable to mouth to mouth resuscitation. De Beauvoir came to
                    see the relationship as corruption of an old man, but Ron Aronson sees
                    Sartre as playing the 'wily old man' by creating a controversy in order to
                    bring his works back into recognition.


                    > Really? You have never thought to yourself (eg. as you struggle
                    > through rush-hour crowds or witness a drunken knifing or a war) that
                    > "Hell is other people"? I can see why you can feel that this isn't a
                    > satisfactory CONCLUSION for a philosophy, but surely it is a valid
                    > STARTING POINT?

                    Fear of the other is not a valid starting point for me. Of course there
                    are nasty people around, but to portray this as the norm does not conform
                    with my experience. Coming from a working class background I experienced
                    neighbourliness and mutual support as the norm. My subsequent experience has
                    not disconfirmed this. In my experience, change is most effectively brought
                    about by groups - with all their failings.
                    > If individual freedom is instead relative to social context then it is
                    > not really "individual" freedom at all, because it is impossible to
                    > conceive of the individual without recourse to context.

                    While not espousing a determinism of any description, the later Sartre -
                    and thinking Marxists - recognise constraints on individual freedom. We are
                    born into a society that acculturates us through the mediations of family,
                    school etc. Our freedom consists in our ability to 'go beyond' these
                    constraints through the vehicle of our individual projects. This freedom is
                    however constrained by the 'field of possibilities open to us , To attain
                    freedom in the larger sense of the liberation of mankind from oppression it
                    is necessary to go beyond the individual to the group.

                    > I tend to view groups as being at least as autonomous as individuals.
                    > From a communicationalist perspective, they conform to similar
                    > criteria: they exist, they act, they rationalise, they communicate,
                    > they can be destroyed. Individuals within a group exist both as
                    > individuals and as role-players within that group. Although
                    > individual roles can change as a group evolves, this cannot be said
                    > to be individual freedom. The role is determined by the needs of the
                    > group. One of the criteria to which a "group" must conform, it seems
                    > to me, is that roles are substitutable. If my conception of my
                    > individual freedom prevents me from playing a particular role within
                    > a group (perhaps because the group insists that, in order for me to
                    > play the role properly, I must agree that I AM that role, therefore
                    > putting me in bad faith) then that group can expel me and find
                    > another individual to play that role.

                    Sartre identifies different types of groups. Being together in isolation
                    is the 'Series'. In the competition for scarce resources eg a bus queue,
                    people exist as serialized individuals. This is what you seem to be
                    describing above - although you do this in the language of B&N -
                    ahistorically, divorced from material restrictions . In order to direct our
                    individual and social lives we need to be able to coordinate our actions and
                    progress beyond the series (which as you show is liable to break apart at
                    any time) Sartre's solution was the necessity of forming a 'fused group'.
                    And this is only possible under specific social situations. Sartre gives the
                    example of the French revolution in 1789. Initially the population of Paris
                    was a series, but when it became threatened by a siege of government troops,
                    the other was no longer viewed as a potential competitor for scarce
                    resources. Under the threat of repression each individual saw the other as
                    herself and joined in a fused group.


                    > If by "bourgeois" you mean the They, the combined objectifying power
                    > of aggregate Other, then I am happy to agree with you. However, I
                    > suspect you may be employing a specifically Marxist, class-based
                    > conception, and can't therefore agree that B&N is "anti bourgeois".

                    No, I did actually mean the anti- bourgeois attitude of Frequenting in
                    Nausea when he walks around the art gallery and pours scorn on the portraits
                    of eminent capitalists of the town. Before I knew Sartre was a Marxist, I
                    admired him for his lifestyle - his refusal of property - and the Noble
                    prize!!!, his stance for the oppressed in Algeria etc. This is the sense in
                    which I see B&N as anti-bourgeois - anti the bad faith of the bourgeoisie


                    > The specific objectifying power of the capitalist classes in the
                    > developed West is insidious indeed, but no more so than in a
                    > socialist dictatorship.


                    I couldn't agree more!

                    If my individual freedom is absolute

                    I don't think it is!

                    and dependent only on my philosophical courage in rejecting the bad faith
                    of my objectification by Other, then it really doesn't matter if it
                    is credit card companies, secret police or my girlfriend that are
                    attempting to hold me to a particular definition. I can still choose
                    the manner of my own being - or my own nothingness.

                    I think the majority of people in the world have worse things to worry
                    about than the objectification by the other - or I should say they suffer
                    from harsher forms of objectification. In addition to being treated as
                    objects (hands, shags, workforce etc) they suffer severe material and
                    spiritual deprivation. Their individual freedom is doubly limited (in
                    contrast to relatively privileged individuals like you and I). They are
                    limited by the historical social situation into which they are born and
                    severely restricted by the'field of possibilities' open to them.

                    Ian


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • ian buick
                    In my discussion with Tommy I was pushed into making too hasty statements based on an inadequate reading of the Critique. I now feel that I superimposed my
                    Message 9 of 26 , Jul 14, 2003
                    • 0 Attachment
                      In my discussion with Tommy I was pushed into making too hasty statements
                      based on an inadequate reading of the Critique. I now feel that I
                      superimposed my understanding of Marxism on Sartre's ideas and moulded him
                      to a certain degree in the direction I would have him take.
                      Having completed a first full skim of the Critique to determine the key
                      arguments, my working hypothesis is that the Critique is not a work of
                      Marxism (at least, I can recognise very little of what I consider Marxist
                      thought in it!!!). Sartre's relationship to Marx is possibly similar to his
                      relationship to Husserl - he was influenced by the basic method - ie
                      historical materialism and phenomenology respectively - but in the same
                      way that Being and Nothingness differs radically from Husserl, the Critique
                      does not appear to develop the basic positions of Marx or any writers i know
                      from the Marxist tradition.
                      To be more concrete, I think Sartre found in his reading of Marx an
                      important dimension to develop his idea of freedom, which he may have come
                      to feel was inadequately developed in B&N - the dimension of history and
                      materialism. As far as I am aware, the phenomenological method can only
                      describe the here and now - what is immediately available to consciousness.
                      Sartre, (possibly) needed a more powerful method to give expression to his
                      newer insights on freedom which had arisen as a result of his increasing
                      presence in society and work in various groups. As I understand it, sartre
                      came to see various forms of the group as the key to changing history and
                      thus individuals in society - and attaining full freedom. And the group came
                      into being in relation to the practico-inert - material which had been
                      worked upon by humans in response to the prevailing condition of scarcity
                      (materialism).
                      At present, I think that the Critique is a direct continuation of the
                      existentialist project influenced by Sartre's reading of Marx. If this is
                      true, the Critique is required reading for all you existentialists out
                      there. When sartre says in 'Search for a Method' that "I consider Marxism
                      the one philosophy of our time which we cannot go beyond", I do not think
                      he is not talking about the Marxism of Marx - he is talking about his
                      version of Marxism, which is his development of existentialism influenced by
                      a reading of Marx.
                      However, for Marxists like myself, there is great profit in reading the
                      Cririque - particularly in relation to the concept of class, but also the
                      view that any philosophy must continue to develop otherwise it fossilises.
                      I would welcome comments from anyone who is more familiar with the Critique
                      than I.


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Matthew Del Nevo
                      Tommy, I liked what you wrote about the Critique. I would like to know what Marxists like yourself think today - ie Marxists with a Sartrean existentialist
                      Message 10 of 26 , Jul 15, 2003
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Tommy, I liked what you wrote about the Critique. I would like to know what
                        Marxists like yourself think today - ie Marxists with a Sartrean
                        existentialist bent. Can you point me to a good internet article I might
                        read to show where Marxism is today after the fall of Russian and Eastern
                        European States?
                        Matthew


                        At 23:37 14/07/03 +0100, you wrote:
                        > In my discussion with Tommy I was pushed into making too hasty statements
                        > based on an inadequate reading of the Critique. I now feel that I
                        > superimposed my understanding of Marxism on Sartre's ideas and moulded him
                        > to a certain degree in the direction I would have him take.
                        > Having completed a first full skim of the Critique to determine the key
                        > arguments, my working hypothesis is that the Critique is not a work of
                        > Marxism (at least, I can recognise very little of what I consider Marxist
                        > thought in it!!!). Sartre's relationship to Marx is possibly similar to his
                        > relationship to Husserl - he was influenced by the basic method - ie
                        > but in the same
                        > way that Being and Nothingness differs radically from Husserl, the Critique
                        > does not appear to develop the basic positions of Marx or any writers i know
                        > from the Marxist tradition.
                        > To be more concrete, I think Sartre found in his reading of Marx an
                        > important dimension to develop his idea of freedom, which he may have come
                        >&N - the dimension of history and
                        > materialism. As far as I am aware, the phenomenological method can only
                        > describe the here and now - what is immediately available to consciousness.
                        > Sartre, (possibly) needed a more powerful method to give expression to his
                        > newer insights on freedom which had arisen as a result of his increasing
                        > presence in society and work in various groups. As I understand it, sartre
                        > came to see various forms of the group as the key to changing history and
                        > thus individuals in society - and attaining full freedom. And the group came
                        > into being in relation to the practico-inert - material which had been
                        > worked upon by humans in response to the prevailing condition of scarcity
                        > (materialism).
                        > At present, I think that the Critique is a direct continuation of the
                        > existentialist project influenced by Sartre's reading of Marx. If this is
                        > true, the Critique is required reading for all you existentialists out
                        > "I consider Marxism
                        >", I do not think
                        > he is not talking about the Marxism of Marx - he is talking about his
                        > version of Marxism, which is his development of existentialism influenced by
                        > a reading of Marx.
                        > However, for Marxists like myself, there is great profit in reading the
                        > Cririque - particularly in relation to the concept of class, but also the
                        > view that any philosophy must continue to develop otherwise it fossilises.
                        > I would welcome comments from anyone who is more familiar with the Critique
                        > than I.
                        >
                        >
                        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        >
                        >
                        > Yahoo! Groups Sponsor ADVERTISEMENT
                        >
                        > To unsubscribe, e-mail: Sartre-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                        >
                        >
                        > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.
                      • Tommy Beavitt
                        ... Matthew, I think it is actually Ian who you are meaning to address in this email. I am not a Marxist!!! (But interested in the development of this thread)
                        Message 11 of 26 , Jul 15, 2003
                        • 0 Attachment
                          At 10:44 pm +1000 15/7/03, Matthew Del Nevo wrote:
                          >Tommy, I liked what you wrote about the Critique. I would like to know what
                          >Marxists like yourself think today - ie Marxists with a Sartrean
                          >existentialist bent. Can you point me to a good internet article I might
                          >read to show where Marxism is today after the fall of Russian and Eastern
                          >European States?
                          >Matthew

                          Matthew,

                          I think it is actually Ian who you are meaning to address in this
                          email. I am not a Marxist!!!

                          (But interested in the development of this thread)

                          At 11:37 pm +0100 14/7/03, ian buick wrote:
                          >In my discussion with Tommy I was pushed into making too hasty statements
                          >based on an inadequate reading of the Critique. I now feel that I
                          >superimposed my understanding of Marxism on Sartre's ideas and moulded him
                          >to a certain degree in the direction I would have him take.
                          >Having completed a first full skim of the Critique to determine the key
                          >arguments, my working hypothesis is that the Critique is not a work of
                          >Marxism (at least, I can recognise very little of what I consider Marxist
                          >thought in it!!!). Sartre's relationship to Marx is possibly similar to his
                          >relationship to Husserl - he was influenced by the basic method - ie
                          >historical materialism and phenomenology respectively - but in the same
                          >way that Being and Nothingness differs radically from Husserl, the Critique
                          >does not appear to develop the basic positions of Marx or any writers i know
                          >from the Marxist tradition.
                          >To be more concrete, I think Sartre found in his reading of Marx an
                          >important dimension to develop his idea of freedom, which he may have come
                          >to feel was inadequately developed in B&N - the dimension of history and
                          >materialism. As far as I am aware, the phenomenological method can only
                          >describe the here and now - what is immediately available to consciousness.
                          >Sartre, (possibly) needed a more powerful method to give expression to his
                          >newer insights on freedom which had arisen as a result of his increasing
                          >presence in society and work in various groups. As I understand it, sartre
                          >came to see various forms of the group as the key to changing history and
                          >thus individuals in society - and attaining full freedom. And the group came
                          >into being in relation to the practico-inert - material which had been
                          >worked upon by humans in response to the prevailing condition of scarcity
                          >(materialism).
                          >At present, I think that the Critique is a direct continuation of the
                          >existentialist project influenced by Sartre's reading of Marx. If this is
                          >true, the Critique is required reading for all you existentialists out
                          >there. When sartre says in 'Search for a Method' that "I consider Marxism
                          >the one philosophy of our time which we cannot go beyond", I do not think
                          >he is not talking about the Marxism of Marx - he is talking about his
                          >version of Marxism, which is his development of existentialism influenced by
                          >a reading of Marx.
                          >However, for Marxists like myself, there is great profit in reading the
                          >Cririque - particularly in relation to the concept of class, but also the
                          >view that any philosophy must continue to develop otherwise it fossilises.
                          >I would welcome comments from anyone who is more familiar with the Critique
                          >than I.

                          Great points, Ian, but I am not currently qualified to comment.

                          best regards

                          Tommy
                          --
                          Join us at Communicationalism, the attempt to find a basis for ethics
                          in communication rather than survival
                          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/communicationalism/
                        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.