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Re: Scare tactic!!? Strawman!!??

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  • Nathan Christopher
    When you put it like that it sounds like I was quibbling (and maybe I was), but it strikes me as a significant difference. Right- for the most part, I think
    Message 1 of 35 , Dec 19, 2003
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      When you put it like that it sounds like I was quibbling (and maybe I
      was), but it strikes me as a significant difference.

      Right- for the most part, I think we're agreeing. To put it another
      way... I think you're giving Sartre's detractors too much credit.

      You & I may agree that most people who wail about "that depressing
      Sartre character" are too weak to really look his philosophy in the
      face, but they wouldn't admit that to themselves- let alone others.
      Instead, they employ prosthetic belief systems and ridiculously
      inaccurate renderings of his work to dismiss him. It hardly matters
      to them whether, in the end, he's portrayed as a hack philosopher,
      charlatan, anarchist, antichrist, solipsist, terrorist, or just too
      darn depressing - so long as he's not taken seriously.

      On the other hand, those Rare Few who have read Sartre carefully &
      admit that they are too weak to face existentialism's stark
      realities... they have every right to call it depressing.

      Also, I prefer "being scared" because it's a more basic condition
      than "feeling too weak."


      --- In Sartre@yahoogroups.com, "Lapin _866" <lapin_866@h...> wrote:
      >
      > Actually I first read "scare tactic" as an active rather than
      passive
      > action: "to frighten others in order to keep them from
      existentialism",
      > instead of "To make it the direct & cxonscious reason for eschewing
      > existentialism".
      >
      > So everything you said now seems to "meet" me, except for I
      prefer "feeling
      > too weak" to "being scared".
      >
      > If not, what did I miss ... Well?
      >
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    • Nathan Christopher
      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
      Message 35 of 35 , Jan 4, 2004
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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,
        2)

        --- In Sartre@yahoogroups.com, kieran aarons <sketchyproposal@y...>
        wrote:
        >
        > Brian:
        > I am compelled to respond to you as a man is compelled to scratch a
        bothersome itch: I'd prefer to simply ignore you, but would miss the
        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
        facing
        > the same basic problem the existentialist faces; he simply thinks
        > too much. Yes, there is a point when freedom does threat freedom
        and
        > that is when it is a THEORY or when it loses it's FUN or when it is
        > 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."
        >
        >
        > Response:
        > Well it certainly seems you've taken your own advice, which I
        suppose is more than some can say for themselves…Unfortunately (for
        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 is
        > an OBSESSION ... it's liberation and should have never of strayed
        > from that." I wonder, are you a genuine misologist, a hater of
        arguments (for reference, see Plato's Phaedo)? Or, have you simply
        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 low
        esteem for polemics and knowledge.
        > You mentioned that freedom can threaten freedom by (assumedly, from
        what 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 a
        particular 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 of
        political 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 might
        like it. I would enjoy hearing an informed criticism of that section
        by you, should you not think of reading as an activity below you.
        >
        >
        > Moving on:
        >
        > You wrote:
        > "What do all existentialists have in common? Right from the word,
        boredom and verbal diarrhea; changing slightly to comedy as a cross-
        eyed man who fantasizes about his desperate life with a man named
        Karl tries to explain to you the joys in liberty.
        >
        >
        > This is indeed the opposite of a useful commentary. Have some beef
        with a thinker? Great! Pick him apart limb by limb! Or at least
        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…!
        >
        > 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
        work on "Les Temps Modernes" and his work with and against political
        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
        before we
        > outright denounce life as it is, d'accord (ok) ?
        >
        > 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
        B&N. Simone de Beauvoir attempted an existentialist ethics in her
        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.
        >
        > -kieran
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
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