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60044Re: [existlist] Sartre's "Ego"

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  • eduardathome
    Jul 9 4:15 PM
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      Mary,

      Seriously, I find that these “comments” to just make things more complicated. I would presume that Hazel Barnes has some concept in mind, but the writing just does not express it. For example .... “the possibility which consciousness possesses of wavering back and forth, demanding the privileges of a free consciousness, yet seeking refuge from the responsibilities of freedom by pretending to be concealed and confined in an already established Ego".

      How can a consciousness “pretend to be concealed and confined”?? How can a consciousness demand anything??

      That is one of the reasons why I find such philosophical writing to be totally frustrating. It is like reading Greek.

      As to ego, it is something that we are born without. The child progressively creates the ego through its encounter with the world. The first of such encounters is the one which enables the child to distinguish an “I” as separate from what is out there. Slowly the ego is built. Sometimes it is strong, sometimes it is weak.

      eduard

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Mary
      Sent: Tuesday, July 09, 2013 1:47 PM
      To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [existlist] Sartre's "Ego"

      I may be wrong at this point, but my understanding is that my Ego and others' Egos are primarily formed' in the world and not by consciousness. Yes, my reactions to the world of others forms my Ego but my Ego is being in-itself because it spontaneous and not reflective being for-itself. I am shaped by others unless and until I'm aware and reflective towards that shaping. Anyway...Sartre deals in length with his own presentation of Ego later in the B&N primarily in "The Existence of Others." Here are Hazel Barnes' comments in her introduction to her translation of B&N and which also relates nicely to bad faith...

      ~Most important of all, there are in Sartre's claim that consciousness infinitely overflows the "I" which ordinarily serves to unity it, the foundation for his view of anguish, the germ of his doctrine of "bad faith," and a basis for his belief in the absolute freedom of consciousness. "Consciousness is afraid of its own spontaneity because it feels itself to be beyond freedom." In other words we feel vertigo or anguish before our recognition that nothing in our own pasts or discernible personality insures our following any of our usual patterns of conduct. There is nothing to prevent consciousness from making a wholly new choice of its way of being. By means of the Ego, consciousness can partially protect itself from this freedom so limitless that it threatens the very bounds of personality. "Everything happens as if consciousness constituted the Ego as a false image of itself, as if consciousness were hypnotized by this Ego which it has established and were absorbed in it." Here undeveloped is the origin of bad faith, the possibility which consciousness possesses of wavering back and forth, demanding the privileges of a free consciousness, yet seeking refuge from the responsibilities of freedom by pretending to be concealed and confined in an already established Ego.~

      Mary

      --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eduardathome <yeoman@...> wrote:
      >
      > I would take Sartre’s position in regard to ego as a means of allocating information about the self. I suppose that one could say that the ego is allocated to the Being-in-itself as something which is not conscious and thus with no intention. That suffices for Sartre.
      >
      > I would suggest, however, that the ego is something we make ourselves in response to the outside world during the period from early childhood. Thus I would say it is of the Being-for-itself. We reacted in a certain fashion, as a child, and this reaction or act is repeated for future actions. I assume that the Being-for-itself is conscious and is the means by which we act. If for some reason we acted with fear of authority as a child, then we may continue to act in the same fashion as adults.
      >
      > eduard
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: Mary
      > Sent: Monday, July 08, 2013 11:50 AM
      > To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [existlist] An apology for-yourselves
      >
      > eduard & Jim,
      >
      > You are both right to question my understanding of the In-itself as a mode of consciousness. I poured over the text last night and realized my error. As Sartre repeats throughout Being and Nothingness, "Consciousness is always consciousness of something." He does go into some length, as you have indicated Jim, on the two modes of consciousness as pre-reflective and non-thetic-or-positional and non-positional.
      >
      > Sartre, however, does say that the Ego is In-Itself: "In an article in Recherches Philosophiques I attempted to show that the Ego does not belong to the domain of the for-itself. I shall not repeat here. Let us note only the reason for the transcendence of the Ego: as a unifying pole of Erlebnisse [lived experiences] the Ego is in-itself, not for-itself."
      >
      > Also, at the end of his introduction he asks, "What is the ultimate meaning of these two types of being? For what reasons do they both belong to being in general? What is the meaning of that being which includes within itself these two radically separated regions of being?"
      >
      > Regarding the human being as in-itself, eduard, Sartre writes, "Now, to be exact, I am *in fact* in so far as I have a past, and this immediate past refers to the primary in-itself on the nihilation of which I arise through *birth." thus the body as facticity is the past as it refers originally to a *birth;* that is, to the primary nihilation which causes me to arise from the In-itself which I am in fact without having to be it. Birth, the past, contingency, the necessity of a point of view, the factual condition for all possible action on the worldâ€"such is the body, such it is for me." Being for-itself cannot be without being in-itself.
      >
      > Sartre's concern is to unify as a totality the two modes of being, yet keep their identities intact, and to show they relate to one another through nothingness. So an existent (as being in-itself) doesn't exist for consciousness (as being for-itelf) unless there is consciousness to perceive it. Being for-itself doesn't exist without being in-itself which it nihilates in attempting to found itself for itself. Neither being founds itself; they depend on one another for us.
      >
      > Mary
      >
      > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@> wrote:
      > >
      > > Mary,
      > >
      > >
      > > In reply to Eduard, you write:
      > >
      > >
      > > "Think of it this way: consciousness is a thing, it exists, it is or has being. Consciousness in-itself is simply pure sense perception and pure experience without reflection or intent. Consciousness which perceives and 'records' experience just is what it is. Yes, it is an awareness but not of itself, so it is merely in-itself. It is pre-reflective and without intention."
      > >
      > >
      > > Although I am finding this aspect of Sartre's philosophy difficult, I am not convinced that how you describe Sartrean consciousness here is how Sartre himself would describe it. In McCulloch's commentary which I have now nearly finished, there is no reference to consciousness as "being-in-itself". On the contrary consciousness is described as "empty" and "being-for-itself".
      > >
      > >
      > > McCulloch does talk of the difference between first-order consciousness and second order-consciousness as well as the contrast between thetic consciousness and non-thetic consciousness.
      > >
      > >
      > > I shall quote the central sections of McCulloch's book where he discusses these issues:
      > >
      > >
      > > Two modes of self-consciousness As already mentioned, Sartre considers all conscious episodes to posit an intentional object. Now among such intentional objects are acts of consciousness themselves. I might think about the Eiffel Tower, and then think about this act itself: `That's the first time for a week that I've recalled that day in Paris when . . .'. The first act of consciousness, Act 1, which has the tower as intentional object, has here become the intentional object of a further (self-reflective) act of consciousness, Act 2. This mode of self-awareness he calls `reflective consciousness' or `thetic self awareness' (B&N: xxix; TE: passim; STE: 56). However Sartre makes a great deal of the point that this is not the only form of self-awareness we enjoy. He claims that in addition to this reflective and explicit self-consciousness, which is just a special case of an act of consciousness positing an intentional object, we are also always at least implicitly self-conscious in a special way, even when we are not explicitly reflecting. Even while I am engaged in Act 1 above, even before explicitly becoming self-conscious in Act 2, Sartre would insist that I was implicitly aware of myself as thinking about the Eiffel Tower (Act 2 is also thus implicitly self-aware, although it would take an Act 3 for it to become the intentional object of an act: see TE: 44-5). He calls this special kind of implicit self-awareness, `pre-reflective consciousness [or cogito]', and also `non-thetic self-awareness'. Even if my attention is completely absorbed in the intentional object of my consciousness, say this screen now before me, this fact is available to me in the non-thetic mode:
      > >
      > > "there must be an immediate, non-cognitive relation of the self to itself" (B&N: xxix) (McCulloch, pp. 9-10)
      > >
      > > Sartre concludes that an act of consciousness must have a primitive way of knowing itself, and that it is this feature which makes it possible for it to serve as intentional object to a further act. But, clearly, this primitive way of knowing itself cannot be accommodated by the doctrine of intentionality, since the whole problem was that acts of consciousness cannot serve as intentional objects unless they have some feature besides that of being directed at an object. Hence Sartre's distinction between thetic and non-thetic consciousness. Thetic consciousness is directedness at intentional objects, be they material things or acts of consciousness: non-thetic consciousness is a non-intentional form of self-awareness which all (human) conscious activity involves, and which makes it possible for us to reflect thetically on our own conscious acts:
      > >
      > > "it is the non-reflective consciousness which renders the reflection possible; there is a pre-reflective cogito which is the condition of the Cartesian ego." (B&N: xxix; cf. TE: 43ff., PI: 10-11)
      > >
      > > And it is non-intentional self-consciousness which supplies the extra component, along with intentionality itself, involved in the being of consciousness. Thus
      > >
      > > "the type of existence of consciousness is to be consciousness of itself. And consciousness is aware of itself in so far as it is aware of a transcendent object. All is therefore clear and lucid in consciousness: the [intentional] object with its characteristic opacity is before consciousness, but consciousness is purely and simply [non-thetic] consciousness of being [thetically] conscious of that object. This is the law of existence." (TE: 40)
      > >
      > > The esse of consciousness does not consist in being perceived, but consists in being non-thetically aware of itself as thetically aware of intentional objects. A mental act, which thereby has an intentional object, is only a conscious positing of that intentional object in virtue of its non-thetic self-awareness. (McCulloch, p. 101)
      > >
      > >
      > > I think, Mary, you were making these distinctions in some of your earlier exchanges with Eduard, but I hope these quotes are helpful in revealing the subtleties and complexities of Sartre's account.
      > >
      > >
      > > Jim
      > >
      >
      >
      >
      >
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