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RE: [Sartre] serialization of the group

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  • Ian Buick
    It s refreshing to see discussion moving away from Being and Nothingness to the Critique; as is the attempt to apply some of the concepts to developments that
    Message 1 of 45 , Aug 5, 2007
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      It's refreshing to see discussion moving away from Being and Nothingness to the Critique; as is the attempt to apply some of the concepts to developments that have taken place since sartre's death.
      However, I'm having problems recognising Sava's use of the theoretical tools developed by Sartre in the Critique.

      Where does Sartre mention the 'serialized group'?

      As I understand sartre's theory, Seriality is the basic form of our social relations - we don't enter it or leave it as we would a Yahoo group - it is a fact of our existence. According to Sartre, scarcity is a prime determinant of our social relations. The scarcity of resources means that our relation to others is one of opposition and alienation, in other words seriality. Hence, in the bus queue we are in potential competition with others for scarce seats and in addition, the relations between human beings are replaced by a relationship to things - in this case the bus.

      Within the context of scarcity and seriality, two main types of ensembles arise: the collective and the group.
      Ensemble is a neutral descriptive term which Sartre uses to refer to both the collective and the group. The collective is a passive formation characterized by alienation and opposition with no real cooperative aim. Examples Sartre give are the Bus queue, the radio broadcast, the free market etc.

      The group is formed on the basis of the collective. It is an active cooperative unity where individuals view each other as possessing sameness as opposed to otherness. It usually arises on the basis of a perceived external threat or emergency and in the process overcomes seriality. The group can go on to achieve permanence through taking a pledge or it may resolve back into a collective once the immediate danger is overcome. In this respect, a group can become serialized, but then it is no longer a group.

      Now based on the above, how can we characterise our ensemble? It is not as haphazard as a bus queue, individuals do wish to communicate with one another. It is not as impotent as the radio broadcast; members can raise any topic they wish within the limits set by the 'group' (I suppose acceptance of the rules can be seen as a sort of pledge to limit our freedom in order that the community can function more efficiently!) But given the extent of the physical separation of the members, the possibility of cooperative action to bring about significant change in the world seems remote; so I would say that we're a collective in Sartrean parlance.


      Ian Buick


      To: Sartre@yahoogroups.comFrom: cepav0@...: Wed, 1 Aug 2007 09:50:43 -0700Subject: [Sartre] serialization of the group




      Going back to a question that Tommy raised once, moreor less stated in these terms: well, see, technologyis for example facilitating our actual exchange in ourSartre group.I may sound really like an airhead to questiontechnology and to use precisely a highly technologicalmedium to conduct such questionning. In my justprevious post I mentionned the Sartrean notion of the"serialized group". Our actual Sartre group is anexcellent illustration of this notion of howtechnology serializes the group.First of all our "Group" is not a group: when themedium used for grouping is so essential to the groupthat without that medium the group cannot exist, thenwhat is the binding purpose of the group falls insecond rank, and the medium becomes primary. The caseis obvious with our "Group", i.e, if there was noyahoo, and no computers, then there wont be this groupeither. Sartre may be the purpose of our group, butour group is just one of so many ways for yahoo toconduct business. Same case, although less obvious inacademic classrooms. The classroom for teaching aSartre class is assigned, and if the classroom forsome reason is not functional, another medium ofgrouping may be found for a few classes, but finally aSartre class is one of the many ways for this bigtechnological enterprise as a university to dobusiness. The university is not a means for a Sartreclass, but it is the Sartre class that is a means forthe university. Second, the "individuals" that make up our YahooSartre "Group" have nothing of the individualuniqueness. The individuals here are nothing butscreen names and IP adresses at the service of anoutside instance of surveillance and control. Hereanyone can pretend to be anyone, and anyone canreplace anyone, easily. So much so, that this wholeexchange between many "individuals" can be conducted,simulated perfectly from one single machine programmedto think in X many different ways, like when thecomputer plays chess with itself.The problem for Sartre is, of course, not withcomputers, and for us, not only with computers. It isa general problem: technology is erasing thedifferences and at the same time hinderingtogetherness. Hence the question: where to? Where arewe headed to? What holds our future? What is going toHAPPEN? These are all modalities of the big questionof the EVENT, or the EREIGNIS: what is coming? Andwhat is appropriating what?__________________________________________________________Take the Internet to Go: Yahoo!Go puts the Internet in your pocket: mail, news, photos & more. http://mobile.yahoo.com/go?refer=1GNXIC


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    • cepav0
      The quote below is pretty clear as to the profound relation between Sartre s philosophy and violence. The cogito, the generalized cogito, is a crime (did I
      Message 45 of 45 , Aug 21, 2007
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        The quote below is pretty clear as to the profound relation between
        Sartre's philosophy and violence. The cogito, the generalized cogito,
        is a crime (did I hear Nietzsche somewhere?...):

        La situation veut que la vraie morale humaine prenne naissance dans
        cet acte isolé, purement individuel, de violence purement négative.
        Tentons de le comprendre dans son ambigüité et de légitimer cette
        violence. … en réalisant la liberté terroriste et négative de la pure
        conscience du monde par consomption du monde en face de la
        conscience, l'esclave réalise dans l'instant qui précède la mort
        cette conscience de soi que le stoïcisme, le scepticisme et le doute
        cartésien n'atteignent que dans la fuite et dans l'abstrait. … La
        destruction et le crime sont les conduites concrètes corrélatives du
        doute méthodique. [dans le crime] la conscience s'affirme dans sa
        solitude terroriste. Tout crime est toujours un peu un cogito.
        (Sartre, Cahier 418)

        What the heck, I'm giving it a try at translation:

        "The situation requires that the true human ethics is born out of
        this isolated act [the terrorist one], purely individual, of a purely
        negative violence. Let us try to understand it in its ambiguity and
        to legitimize this violence. ... by accomplishing the terrorist and
        negative freedom of the pure consciousness of the world, the slave
        attains in the instant right before his death to that self-
        consciousness that stoicism, scepticism and cartesian doubt attain to
        only in flight and in the abstract. ... Destruction and crime are the
        concrete behaviour correlative to methodical doubt. [in the crime]
        consciousness affirms itself in its terrorist solitude. All crime is
        always a bit of a cogito."

        Do I agree with this? Oh, not only that, I think these are some of
        the best lines ever writen in philosophy.
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