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"man as the future of man"

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  • Mary
    Not at top or bottom, not before or after, but through the material, comes man on earth. Sartre wrote, often in specialized language, with some common sense
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2, 2010
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      Not at top or bottom, not before or after, but through the material, comes man on earth. Sartre wrote, often in specialized language, with some common sense about man in this world. From (Human Relations as a Mediation of Materiality, CDR)...

      "The quality of being a man* doesn't exist as such; this* particular gardener recognises in this* particular road-mender a concrete project which is expressed in his behaviour and which others have *already recognised* by the very task which they have set him. Thus everyone recognises the Other on the basis of a social recognition to which his clothes, his tools, etc., passively bear witness. From this point of view, the mere act of speaking, the simplest gesture, and the elementary structure of perception (which, moving from future to present, from totality to particular moments, discloses the behaviour of the Other) imply mutual recognition."

      But here are some slightly controversial words, which nevertheless ring true from my own experience...

      "And capitalist exploitation and oppession are no counterexample to this. The swindle of capitalist exploitation is based on a contract. And though this contract necessarily transforms labour, or praxis*, into an inert commodity, it is, formally, a reciprocal relation; it is a free exchange between two men who *recognise each other* in their freedom; it is just that one of them pretends not to notice that the Other is forced by the constraint of needs to sell himself as a material object. The clear conscience of the employer is based entirely on that moment of exchange in which the wage-labourer appears to offer his labour-power *in complete freedom*. And if he is not free in relation to his poverty, he is juridically free in relation to his employer, since, at least in theory, the employer does not put any pressure on the workers when he hires them, and merely fixes a top rate and turns away those who ask for more. Here, once again, competition and antagonism between workers moderate their demands; the employer himself has nothing to do with it. This example shows clearly enough that man becomes a thing* for the Other and for himself only to the extent that he is initially posited as freedom by praxis* itself."

      Here's the zinger...

      "Absolute respect for the freedom of the propertyless is the best way of leaving him at the mercy of material constraints at the moment of the contract."

      And back again to a straightforward description of man on earth, as means not end...

      "We must not suppose that we have entered the kingdom of ends and that, in reciprocity, everyone recognises and treats the other as an absolute end. This would be formally impossible only in so far as everyone treated himself, or treated the human person in himself, as an unconditioned end. Indeed this hypothesis would throw us back into absolute idealism: only an idea amongst other ideas can posit itself as its own end."

      And this wonderful grounding...

      "But man is a material being set in a material world; he wants to change the world which crushes him, that is, to act on the world of materiality through the mediation of matter and hence to change himself. His constant search is for a different arrangement* of the universe, and a different statute for man; and in terms of this new order he is able to define himself as *the other whom he will become* Thus he constantly makes himself the instrument, the means, of this future statute which will realise him as other; and it is impossible for him to treat his own present as an end. In other words, man as the future of man is the regulative schema of every undertaking, but the end is always a remoulding of the material order which *by itself* will make man possible."

      His philosophy is man on earth, making himself through materiality. That's as big a nod to Darwin and a snub to otherworldliness as can be. Knowing the before and after of man is for those who have little or nothing in this life. As long as the conditions which give rise to otherworldly hope persist, hope will surpass being* in this world. Politics is the realm of history wherein the individual reigns for Other.

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