Scare tactic!!? Strawman!!??
- "Scare tactic!!?" I doubt it seriously! Don't most "sartre"-ers think with
me that "existentialism is depressing" because of having felt too weak to
commit into an existentialist's discipline, so one tries to disparage it in
order better to forget frustration of not being able to handle
Now again about this hot topic: choices.
(In my opinion) When we make a choice, we first feel fit to it, so it feels
good to us. This motivation may come out of the infinite complexity of life,
but how can anybody convince me that what we call "a choice" isn't just a
word qualifying a conscient excitement & dash (maybe very low excitement /
dash, but significant enough to engage a process) for something by
preference to any other option.
AND! ... When somebody says "life is absurd", to me it means simply that he
is living difficult times and doesn't feel strong enough to face what
appears to him as his future.
>From: Roro <roro_dee@...>_________________________________________________________________
>Subject: Re: [Sartre] Re: why people think that existentialists are
>Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2003 08:29:30 -0800 (PST)
>Thankx Kntilicious, your reply was great. I have one more question: Why do
>you think that the prof is teaching that life is absurd?
>He teaches other classes on religion, and in that class he tries to prove
>that Kirgagaard is wrong, and the believe is not a choice. So he told us
>to take that class. I did not, but i argued with him out side of the class,
>that a believe is a choice, and it happen to me--i once felt that my faith
>is getting week, and felt like there could be no one there, no God, so i
>did not like that feeling, then i tried to gain back my faith. That is how
>i thing a believe is a choice and kirgagaard is right.
>If existentialism is hated, it's usually because it is thought to
>dismiss God or morality; in either case, the detractors are only
>demonstrating their lack of familiarity with the philosophy. Folks
>who argue the first forget that Kierkegaard is often cited as the
>father of Existentialism, and he meant to offer a defense of faith.
>The second complaint is answered very well in Sartre's
>essay "Existentialism is a Humanism."
>This thing about existentialists being depressed is a strawman, a
>scare tactic, nothing more. If you're depressed, you choose
>depression -Sartre would say- and obviously there's no sense in
>Further, a conclusion such as "life is absurd" can't be arrived at
>through existentialism - it's a value judgment... something with
>which the philosophy isn't concerned. If one understands anything
>about the philosophy, it should be that value judgments belong solely
>to the Subject, informed by her facticity.
>Abraham, as an existentialist, decided to kill Issac despite the
>risks; prisoner 102556, as an existentialist, decided to attempt an
>escape despite the risks; your philosophy prof, as a nitwit, tried to
>teach you that life is absurd.
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- The Spirit of Seriousness. Oh, crikey... of course. That's exactly
the right answer - the best refutation of Brian's remarks. Kudos to
Kieran for calling it. That's all we really needed to point him
to. "Because of the degree of consciousness which it possesses of
its ideal goal...the quietism of the solitary drunkard [takes]
precedence over the vain agitation of the leader." (B&N, Conclusion,
--- In Sartre@yahoogroups.com, kieran aarons <sketchyproposal@y...>
>bothersome itch: I'd prefer to simply ignore you, but would miss the
> I am compelled to respond to you as a man is compelled to scratch a
satisfaction of the response.
> Let's move chronologically:
> You wrote:
> That is all you had to say to "prove" to me that Sartre's work just
> wasn't working. Maybe if you stopped thinking in the first place,
> life would be that much liberating for you. You obviously are
> the same basic problem the existentialist faces; he simply thinksand
> too much. Yes, there is a point when freedom does threat freedom
> that is when it is a THEORY or when it loses it's FUN or when it issuppose is more than some can say for themselves Unfortunately (for
> an OBSESSION ... it's liberation and should have never of strayed
> from that. In fact, it never did; only your mind has allowed that
> much liberty to decay and unforunately, existentialism is but a
> little root of that desperation. And from your description of our
> natural, perpetual drunkenness, I see how much Sartre had dreamt
> away his life and his glorious freedom merely through horribly
> ironic "philosophies of freedom."
> Well it certainly seems you've taken your own advice, which I
the sake of this group) your advice was to stop thinking and become a
creature of impulse. Or was it? You say: "Maybe if you stopped
thinking in the first place, life would be that much [more]liberating
for you." You then say: "Yes, there is a point when freedom does
[threaten] freedom and
> that is when it is a THEORY or when it loses it's FUN or when it isarguments (for reference, see Plato's Phaedo)? Or, have you simply
> an OBSESSION ... it's liberation and should have never of strayed
> from that." I wonder, are you a genuine misologist, a hater of
extracted any seriousness from the activity of conceptual thought and
declared it an extension of the body, which is hence susceptible
to "neuroses" and other (as you call it) "obsessive" unhealthy
behavior? Or are neither of these readings adequate?
> You sure argue, claim and deny a lot for someone with such a lowesteem for polemics and knowledge.
> You mentioned that freedom can threaten freedom by (assumedly, fromwhat you've said) confining itself to linguistic channels, by
declaring allegiance to a certain code or viewpoint, and by taking
itself too seriously. First, the attempt to reduce ourselves to
concepts is never successful. This much seems fair to say, though
the story doesn't end there. Because languages are fluid and dynamic
instrumental complexes, which can be engaged in various ways based
upon various intentions, the book is not shut on what possibilities
theory can offer the human experience. For example, I myself like to
think of philosophy as most fruitful, and certainly enjoyable, when
in discourse between friends. When I'm chilling a beer, a merlot, a
b-load, what-have-you, with friends, tossing ideas around,
challenging, complicating, expanding and mocking concepts, this is as
far from obsessive and desperate behavior as I can imagine.
Philosophy and critical thought in general ought not seek to end
> the conversation by declaring the supremacy, certainty, etc. of aparticular view on an issue. Dialogue demands a radical openness
which admittedly has disappeared from too many classrooms and
academic forums in recent times, but those who know the joy of
discourse and love of knowledge need not concern themselves with such
trifles. The place of independent thought and the free spirit has
never been in the institution anyway. I urge you to reconsider the
value of theory, of philosophy, and to see that these opinions need
not be contrasted with Existentialism, Sartre, or otherwise. I
disagree that Sartre "dreamt away his life" in philosophy. His works
changed my life, and this is not to suggest that I subscribe to any
or all of his views wholeheartedly; the mere entrance of his ideas
sparked an interest in me which has yet to dwindle or fade, and which
remains a non-committal one. As for Sartre, his later life, though
only of indirect relevance to his philosophical work, was a
> deeply engaged one. If one surveys even briefly the body ofpolitical writings he produced with Merleau-Ponty and others, one
finds that Sartre demonstrated not only an adamant conviction to
fighting injustice, but at times a humble and respectable willingness
to go back on things he once thought true and re-evaluate them. This
willingness to question and challenge his own views speaks to his
commitment to open discourse. I need not construe Sartre as a model
in this respect; I simply seek to suggest that he does not fit your
model of a dogmatic rigidity which threatens freedom. Besides,
freedom which attempts to limit itself by becoming a concept, or
object-relation is in bad faith anyway, so he's closing the door on
that approach to life right off the bat. I risk repeating myself out
of stubborn optimism by suggesting again that you take a look at his
sections on Bad Faith in Being and Nothingness, as I think that much
of the spirit of seriousness which you criticize is
> addressed in not-wholly-incompatible ways by Sartre. You mightlike it. I would enjoy hearing an informed criticism of that section
by you, should you not think of reading as an activity below you.
>boredom and verbal diarrhea; changing slightly to comedy as a cross-
> Moving on:
> You wrote:
> "What do all existentialists have in common? Right from the word,
eyed man who fantasizes about his desperate life with a man named
Karl tries to explain to you the joys in liberty.
>with a thinker? Great! Pick him apart limb by limb! Or at least
> This is indeed the opposite of a useful commentary. Have some beef
provide a cursive overview of places where his work runs into itself
or jams up or is otherwise inadequate. But really, the guy's eye got
messed up when he was four. Your poking fun at it, as far as I'm
concerned, reduces you to the petty level of Paparazzi who got
seemingly endless fun out of drawing one after another characature of
him, when they could've actually been reading the bloody works !
>work on "Les Temps Modernes" and his work with and against political
> Last few comments:
> You wrote:
> "Now, the problem with the existentialist, is that he cannot
> forget anything in his anguished rational intellect ... and if
> action replaces conceptual thought (somewhat pre-reflective cogito)
> I suppose you could say that the existentialist thinks so much he
> never acts, conceptualizes a rock so much he never even throws it.
> Ring a bell?"
> I've responded to this criticism already by pointing to Sartre's
groups over four decades until his death. Philosophy must be an
engaged and lived activity. What else could it be? Why throw a
rock? Perhaps because the riot squad's there in front of you and
your friends are in jail or dead Perhaps because you have other
reasons which relate to consciously and freely chosen life projects .
Yet somehow I suspect that you approach life as if it were somehow
possible to return to a kind of pre-reflective immediacy which acted
without any reference to the future or past, and which was entirely
non-reflective. Not only is this unthinkable, unarguable for, and
indefensible conceptually, but it sounds really mundane and
childish. I'm all for youthful exuberance and abhor the spirit of
gravity as much as is reasonable (reference: Nietzsche's
Zarathustra) , but lst's please be clear about what we're proposing
> outright denounce life as it is, d'accord (ok) ?B&N. Simone de Beauvoir attempted an existentialist ethics in her
> You wrote:
> "The existential age is over. It is now become little more than a
> laughable disguise for a romantic moral order. "
> Sartre never finished the ethical work he promised us at the end of
work "The Ethics of Ambiguity", and I confess I haven't read it, and
hesitate to comment on its success. I find it ironic that you level
the claim against Existentialism that it is a "romantic moral
order." What "moral order" do you mean? Are you speaking in blanket
terms, or might it (for once) be fair to assume that because you're
writing to a Sartre Group that you are referring to Sartre? His
Notebooks for an Ethics are available, though hardly widespread and
not well-known. The only ethics I have concretely encountered is a
demand for authenticity, which you've ironically turned against
Sartre while not qualifying your own version. Please don't continue
like this. Please: be frank, be clear, demonstrate respect both for
those you are criticizing and those who are your audience by
defending your critiques. This I would welcome, and hope
> others would too.
> A final quote of yours for fun:
> "I deconstruct your world, everyone
> has and I watch you crumble and tremble as all your guideposts
> pointing nowhere disappear.
> You've all become afraid and disgusted with freedom, pity, pity,
> pity ...."
> So much machismo, so little juice.
> Ciao, amigo.
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