Re: Sartre and Religion
- Hello Brad. The questions you ask are not so straightforward or simple
as you suggest.
In Sartre@yahoogroups.com, "brad_c_mccall" <brad_c_mccall@y...> wrote:
>Some people find certain choices more difficult than others to make.
> Phil -
> This is simple...
> 1st - You mention that there are degrees of freedom. What are they?
For instance the choice of a hardened smoker to give up smoking is
more difficult than that of a recent smoker. The choice to give up
smoking may even be too much for us and we may end up rationalising
our decision to keep smoking in a way that does not pick out a genuine
cause of our continuing the activity (in other words we engage in
self-deception) i.e. we say something like I wanted to keep smoking
because this activity has more meaning for me and so forth. Sartre's
account of his attempt to stop smoking in B&N p.596 looks unconvincing
Further those that know our character may be able to predict the
choices that we make or at least the behaviour that seem to arise from
our choices. For instance if someone knows that we really admire
Sartre they may predict that we will respond in a certain way to
criticisms of his work or if someone knows that we are religious they
will predice that we will respond in a certain way to critiques of God
and so forth. We do this all the time in our attempt to understand
the world and those around us. This suggests that our choices are
influenced by who we are and the situation we are in.
>Yes - there is no inconcistency between being created and being free.
> 2nd - You wrote...
> "The problem with this analogy is that it is more of a
> literarydescription than an argument... In the case of the paper
> knife thepaper knife cannot makes any choice as to what to be. It is
> simply apaper-knife with no inner life or freedom (the for itself).
> Withregards to a person that ex hypothesis has been created by God
> theyare always free to choose to follow God's plan or not and to
> define themselves through their actions."
> Is this really true?
Q: Would you agree that a person of faith would claim that God is all
Yes - But before you continue reading you should realise that you are
attempting to draw an inconsistency between the notions of omniscience
and freedom and thus deviating from what I said above concerning the
relation between the notions of being created and being free. So the
below is really a separate topic concerning divine foreknowledge and
Q:Doesn't God have an idea of what it is to be Phil, before Phil is
Would a theist really claim that God can be wrong about weather a
person will or will not follow his plan?
Not sure depends what their take is on divine foreknowledge.
They might say that the person has a choice weather to follow God's
plan or tell him to get lost and then want us to produce a reason why
this is incompatible with divine foreknowledge.
> 3rd - Sarte would say that you can have a God and be free if thePerhaps he would say this and perhaps he would choose not to say this
> following are true... 1)God is not all knowing 2)God does not have
> any idea of what it is to be Phil before Phil is born.
depending on how good an argument he thought it was. It is an
interesting line of thought though I think it needs some more work.
A form of this argument troubled St Augustine. I think that what you
are saying can be put more formally as follows:
1: If God knows in advance that S will do A, then it must be the case
that S will do A.
2: If it must be the case that S will do A, then it is not within the
power of S to refrain from doing A.
3: So, S is not free with respect to A
However, it might be worth suggesting whilst the idea of divine
foreknowledge and human freedom can *seem* to be incompatible people's
intuitions about incompatibility in the sense of logical inconsistency
can often be misleading especially where the issues become complex.
The problem with the above is that neither 2 or 3 follow from 1.
More formally we could say that from
1: If God knows in advance that S will do A, then it must be the case
that S will do A
it does not follow that
2a: If God knows in advance that S will do A, then it is NECESSARY
that S will do A.
But this is what is needed if we are to say that it is not within S's
power to refrain from doing A. All that follows is that it must be the
case that S will do A. But S can do A as a matter of contingent fact
or a matter of necessity.
We could make the same point in a much looser way by saying that
the notion of a sucessful prediction is not inconsistent with the
notion of having a choice over what action to perform (and we predict
how people will behave all the time). Once we grasp this then we have
some reason to doubt whether divine foreknowledge is really
inconsistent with the ability to choose.
> 4th - Of course Sartre would deny any human nature! That's essenceThat's right the above are not what Sartre calls "human nature".
> presceding existence. I thought you knew that already. I cann't
> jump to the moon or grow 10' overnite. That is a condition. Not
> nature. You wouldn't say that it is human nature to NOT be able to
> jump to the moon. Right?
In my prior post you will see that I was interested in whether he was
*WARRANTED* in saying or believing this. Oddly enough I think Sartre
claimed that it was part of the human condition that we must work.
(Does someone know the reference for this as I have lost it?). It
sounds like an odd thing to say for Sartre since it suggests we are
not free to not work and thereby have a limitation imposed on our
freedom (that others may not have). Hence there is another sense to
"degrees of freedom".
Interesting questions. Certainly not simple questions.
- That's an interesting point you made. Sorry I haven't able to respond, I've been really busy lately. "Menal life" is pretty accurate, considering that "consciousness" is very vague when you hear about it. As far as Man being "naturally violent" I think this is inherently true. It's like most of us have to rely on the rules and laws of society keep us from "giving in", while others can draw that control within themselves. I don't know if that particular topic can inspire an interesting discussion, but I would like somebody who's well-versed in Sartre to respond to this while referencing some of his texts.
scarey1917 <scarey1917@...> wrote: "theoryphil2004" wrote:<<<<<<<So there is no inconsistency in being
created and being free. There is only an inconsistency between being
an inanimate object such as a paper-knife and being free...The other
criticism that might be levied at Sartre is to question whether his
rejection of human nature is warranted or not.>>>>>>>>>
And it gets even more complicated, Theoryphil. In the last paragraph
of E&HE Sartre states that "Existentialism is nothing else than an
attempt to draw all the consequences of a coherent atheistic
position." But then a few lines later he says: "Existentialism isn't
so atheistic that it wears itself out showing that God doesn't exist.
Rather, it declares that even if God did exist, that would change
nothing." So evidently even if the supreme artificer created us, we
are still stuck down here with our unsupportable total freedom,
including the freedom to tell God to go jump in the lake! We decide
the significane of God, just as we decide the ultimate significance
of things, situations, and ourselves.
And don't think that a view of human nature as a "given" or even the
acceptance of the "unconscious" mind would be a problem for Sartre's
theory of freedom, as long as such nature or mind were relegated to
the side of the Situation which the for-itself freely takes up, or
not. So for example one could argue from Sartre's point of view that
man is "naturally violent", but then go on to say that this "given"
receives existential significance within the project of the for-
itself (I decide to give in, or not, to these given tendencies).
In "Being and Nothingness" the ultimate problem is Sartre's total
identification of man with consciousness, which of course is the
influence of Descartes and modern philosophy. But consciousness is
only one aspect (a very interesting aspect!) of man's total being. As
Marx said, consciousness is the consciousness OF an objective being.
Lately I have prefered the term "mental life" rather
than "consciousness", since the former would take into account all
the various unconciousness functions that make up about 99% of brain
activity and which belong to the being of man.
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