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Re: [Sartre] Sartre and Love

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  • sava
    Hi Tommy, thanks for an interesting reply. I would like to stop ... You are right, he is certainly not saying that literally. But see, in order to benefit more
    Message 1 of 10 , Mar 16, 2007
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      Hi Tommy,

      thanks for an interesting reply. I would like to stop
      at these two points of your reply:

      > I certainly take your point here. But surely he is
      > not saying that
      > there is no such thing as madness or love, but
      > rather that the free
      > subject takes these emotions or mental states as
      > part of his or her
      > project.

      You are right, he is certainly not saying that
      literally. But see, in order to benefit more from the
      thinking of a thinker two contradictory things are
      necessary to be carried out: first, to constantly be
      reminded what the thinker is saying exactly; second,
      to constantly go beyond what the thinker's exact
      meaning at the time was. (The famous Nietzschean
      question: how do we go beyond nihilism? We can't, but
      we need to.)

      > Again, I am not sure that what Sartre is attacking
      > here is not the
      > identification of homosexuality per se (after all,
      > identifications of
      > all kinds occur and can be seen to be necessary for
      > there to be
      > specific situations of social interaction) but
      > rather the attempt of
      > the "champion of sincerity" to get his homosexual
      > friend to come out
      > "once and for all".

      Yes, what Sartre is refuting here is not a judgement
      of the type: "You are HOMOSEXUAL" - his beef is not
      with the "homosexual" part of that judgement rather
      then with the "You ARE". Nonetheless, we have to do
      here with the typical dilemma between the EXAMPLE, and
      the GENERAL. It is like Aristotle talking about how
      tragedies in general should be, and then illustrating
      it with the Oedipus Rex example - or like Freud,
      talking about how the complex is played out in
      theatre, and then choosing the example of Oedipus as
      an illustration of his complex theory. Same goes here
      with Sartre, saying how judgements of the type "you
      are", "he is", "I am" fail to grasp the existential
      character of human beings by reifying or objectifying
      them, and then illustrating these judgements in
      general with the "You are homosexual" example. The
      example here is an examplary one; it is not just any
      example taken among many of the same case, and one
      could wonder whether the case could be made with
      another different example: could we still talk of the
      same generality without that specific example?

      Now "homosexual" is a label that doesnt date back any
      further than 19th century. It is a label into which a
      whole array of feelings and doings are shoved in, and
      along with them an entire human being. Now we all know
      that nowadays "gay" are called not just those
      individuals who perform sexual acts with others of the
      same sex: as soon as something that doesn't fit the
      coarse mould of "straight" behavior is detected in
      someone, people go: "is he gay?" The way one dresses,
      eats, listens to the music, reads, the overall
      someone's sensibility can make them "gay". I remember
      in high school we started reading Proust's "Combray",
      and none of us knew anything about Proust. Now a girl
      goes and asks the professor: "was he gay?" And
      certainly she was right, not because she knew anything
      in advance, no, but someone who would write like that,
      that would make them most certainly "gay".

      Now when students ask me about Socrates, because they
      have heard something about it, whether he is gay, I
      say that most certainly not. And it is a true answer,
      because if poor Socrates were resuscitated and was
      asked that question, he would square big eyes. The
      question would not even make sense to him. He was
      married, had kids, and his opinion about Platonic love
      for another male had nothing to do with his sex life.
      For Socrates, and Plato the pen behind Socrates mouth,
      spiritual love between two individuals of the same
      male sex was essentially related to the pursuit, or
      love, of those other two things - beauty and wisdom -
      that would go to make up "philosophy". So the
      philosopher was not just the lover of wisdom, he was
      also the lover of another friend-lover of wisdom.

      Now, 2000 years of Christian morality did not manage
      to uproot this "friendship" of the philosopher for
      another fellow of the kind. Christian philosophy
      itself - if not with Christ - at least with its first
      philosophers, St. Augustine and St. Thomas, and even
      before with Aristotle as their patron, starts with
      this moral torment of the love for another fellow. So
      Sartre, taking up as one of its pioneers this task of
      "overcoming metaphysics", and refuting judgements of
      the type "You are" with the example of "You are
      homosexual" - this is not just a coincidental example,
      not just a rhetorical device in the argument. So the
      whole history of metaphysics, and the whole Christian
      philosophy within metaphysics, are at stake here in
      the rhetorical choice of this example: "You are a homosexual".

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