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67More Colours of the Rainbow

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  • Charles Vermont
    Aug 29, 1999
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      In an email 29th August, Thom replied to me writing:

      >You stated that: "Of course, as an existentialist, I believe he is free to choose any and all of these options." Indeed, we can in the end choose any option but we may make wrong choices. Sartre's "Existentialism and Human Emotion" makes the clear the case that while a person can, in the end, do what they wish, they may be quite wrong in doing so.<

      I'm not sure which of Sartre's publications you mean. I've looked through my bibliography, and wonder whether your refer to 'Esquisse d'une theorie des emotions'?

      As to the comment you attribute to Sartre, wouldn't he be guilty of Bad Faith if he believed that right and wrong even existed? After all, to adopt such an attitude is to claim there are a set of absolute moral principles against which he can judge the actions of another person and his own. And yet in Existentialisme est un humanisme he said the following:

      'The existentialist ... finds it extremely embarrassing that God does not exist, for there disappears with Him all possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven. There can no longer be any good a priori since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. It is no where written that "the good" exists, that one must be honest or must not lie, since we are now on a plane where there are only men.' (P33)

      And:

      '...Even if my choice is determined by no a priori value whatever, it can have nothing to do with caprice ... it is impossible for [a man]... not to take full responsibility' (P48, Mairet translation)

      It is this issue of taking responsibility for my choices which is taxing me at the moment.

      Charles Vermont
      London, England
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