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60121Re: Sartre, Arendt and Pettit on freedom

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  • Mary
    Aug 3, 2013
      Jim,

      I think what's most radical about Sartre's freedom is not that it ignores situation and differentiation but that it's founded on nothingness and the emptiness of consciousness. Both personal and political freedom are situated against this same desert of nothing.

      Bad faith is most commonly experienced as identifying with a particular role. Staring into the abyss of freedom, we cling to roles for identity and security. These ego activities are an escape from the anguish of confronting our freedom to create ethics and values, because we're able to examine the situations which enslave us to role and identity through an examination of institutions which give us our original identities and meaning. Refusal to confront these root causes is at least part of what Sartre considers an escapist attitude, because through focusing on our own identity and role, we avoid not only the freedom of personal choice but the creation of political freedom.

      Mary

      --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:
      >
      > All,
      >
      > Once again I have been away so I have fallen behind with reading the Existlist posts. Perhaps we have now taken the discussion of bad faith as far as we can.
      >
      > As well as reading the Sartre extract Mary posted the link for, I have been reading up on ideas about freedom for another group I discuss philosophy with. I have been focussing on some of the things Hannah Arendt and Philip Pettit have written.
      >
      > This fits in well with what Sartre says about freedom. Sartre is very radical here, he says we are radically free pretty much to completely re-invent ourselves each morning.
      >
      > Pettit attempts to give "a theory of freedom" which covers both individual freedom (relating to the traditional philosophical problem of free will) and social or political freedom (traditionally just discussed as part of political philosophy).
      >
      > Arendt argues that individual freedom is very different from political freedom and philosophers just cause muddle by trying to give just one theory to cover both ideas.
      >
      > Even within just the area of political freedom, Arendt argues that the ancient Greek idea of political freedom was an idea of an active capacity or skill a free person had who was able to debate about political matters in the polis assembly. She argues that the emergence of political liberalism, based on the ideas of Hobbes and Locke brought in a very different idea of political freedom – the idea of freedom as non-interference – I am free to the extent that I can go about my business without been interfered with by criminals, the Church, the Government, etc.
      >
      > Arendt prefers the ancient Greek idea – where freedom is an active capacity – I have to do something to actualize my freedom. The liberal idea is very passive – I don't have to do anything to enjoy freedom in a liberal democracy.
      >
      > All this takes me back to Sartre. Whilst Sartre wants to say we are all free all of the time, there is a sense in which this is a potential freedom. To actualize our freedom, we have to do something, we have to renew our commitments every morning. I have to choose again to work as an IT Support Analyst. I have to choose again to be a caring and concerned parent.
      >
      > Our much discussed waiter seems to fail in this regard, according to Sartre. The waiter just passively allows his adopted role to determine his being. He does not actualize his freedom by once again consciously choosing this role every morning when he wakes up.
      >
      > Jim
      >
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