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60095Re: [existlist] Re: Fixed nature

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  • eduardathome
    Jul 23 4:31 PM
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      Does the waiter really suffer vertigo because he has to choose being a
      waiter each morning?? I seriously doubt it. McCulloch is trying to
      dramatize the thing. I would suggest that worrying about whether or not he
      is an inkwell [to use McCulloch's terms] is the last thing on the waiter's

      I think McCulloch is right in saying that the word "being" or "etre" is a
      verb. The "being" in the phrase "being-in-itself" or "etre en soi" is not a
      noun. It isn't a thing. It is an act. I don't think it requires two verbs
      to make a distinction between en soi and pour soi.

      But let's say that the waiter does think he is the role he plays. This
      deserves a "so what". What is the adverse impact and does it mean anything
      in the life of the waiter?? The waiter thinks he is his role and goes to
      the cafe to serve Sartre a brioche. Sartre then comments that that this
      presents a "fundamental ambiguity or two-facedness" which plays the crucial
      role in the cases of bad faith. So what. It clearly upsets Sartre, but
      doesn't seem to worry the waiter. It can only affect the waiter if he
      subsequently makes a wrong choice because of mauvais foi. But I would
      suggest that the waiter is unlikely to make a wrong choice specifically
      because of this factor versus any other factor. If the waiter thinks he is
      a waiter [en soi], he is likely to continue in that role until he grows old
      and dies or is run over by some yellow jersey cyclist.


      -----Original Message-----
      From: Jim
      Sent: Monday, July 22, 2013 6:03 PM
      To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [existlist] Re: Fixed nature


      Again you express some of Sartre's ideas very clearly and elegantly. I don't
      think I can match your formulations.

      Thanks for posting the bad faith section from Being and Nothingness. I have
      benefitted from reading it, but it just is very hard!

      Sartre talks of the "double property of the human being, who is at once a
      facticity and a transcendence". He goes on:

      "These two aspects of human reality are and ought to be capable of a valid
      coordination. But bad faith does not wish either to coordinate them nor to
      surmount them in a synthesis. Bad faith seeks to affirm their identity while
      preserving their differences. It must affirm facticity as being
      transcendence and transcendence as being facticity, in. such a way that at
      the instant when a person apprehends the one, he can find himself abruptly
      faced with the other."

      Gregory McCulloch in his commentary on this section makes the point that
      this is all so difficult because we just have one verb "to be", but we
      really need two verbs – to be1 and to be2 – to talk about being in-itself
      (facticity) and being for-itself (transcendence). He writes:

      "To be in the mode or manner In-itself and to be in the mode or manner
      For-itself are utterly different things. Let us write the first as `to be1'
      and the second as `to be2'. [McCulloch actually uses capitals for the first
      and bold for the second, but as I can't get bold into my Existlist text,
      I'll use numbers.] An inkwell is an inkwell in the manner In-itself: so an
      inkwell is1 an inkwell. A waiter is a waiter in the manner For-itself: so a
      waiter is2 a waiter. But it is not true that an inkwell is2 an inkwell (or
      anything else), and it is not true that a waiter is1 a waiter (or anything
      else). Ordinary language is confusing because it only has the one verb – `to
      be' – where in reality it needs two if Sartre's fundamental distinction in
      Being holds: `to be1' and `to be2'. As Sartre puts it, the concept of being
      is `two-faced' (B&N: 67). Not only this, but Sartre's principal idea is that
      this fundamental ambiguity or two-facedness is playing the crucial role in
      the cases of bad faith he discusses." (McCulloch, p. 57)

      So in the famous waiter example, the waiter thinks he is1 a waiter – he
      things that is his essence – whereas in reality he is2 a waiter – he
      continually chooses to be a waiter, he re-invents himself every morning as a

      Further Sartre suggests others pressurize the waiter to live up to the
      role – others want the waiter to be1 a waiter, as that is less threatening
      to them.

      As you say, Mary, this is all very insightful. We do have radical freedom to
      re-invent ourselves out of nothing each day of our lives, but living with
      this knowledge is unsettling to us, it gives us a sense of vertigo, and we
      often find the bad faith path of identifying our essence with our current
      role, or our past characteristics, the path of least resistance.

      My brain is beginning to hurt with the effort to understand and articulate
      these Sartrean ideas, so I'll stop here.



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