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Re: [existlist] Re: From very small to very large

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  • christopher arthur
    As an analytic philosopher, Bertrand Russell seemed to be very successful in using a kind of logical, mechanical thinking to approach philosophical problems,
    Message 1 of 171 , Jun 13 7:17 PM
      As an analytic philosopher, Bertrand Russell seemed to be very
      successful in using a kind of logical, mechanical thinking to approach
      philosophical problems, and perhaps so was Wittgenstein, but I think
      that we need to draw the line of philosophy somewhere. My point is that
      there are mechanistic approaches worth appreciating, but I think that
      the difference here is that with logic, I follow rules in order to
      deduce truth about the world from what I already know, and when I start
      thinking about neurology, I can't sum up the activity to distinguish
      truth from falsehood. There is certainly some appeal to the intuition
      to be able to take a problem, particularly in existentialism, and
      operate on it logically to arrive at some deeper understanding. That
      same spirit might be cause for reluctance to embrace paradox.

      It's curious that in the (brief) discussion that we had concerning being
      and nothingness, that no one seemed to mention the concepts of
      being-in-itself or being-for-itself.


      On 6/13/2013 5:25 PM, Mary wrote:
      > Yes, it is this very mechanistic approach of eduard's that I reject.
      > He's an electrical engineer, so he regards the mind as some sort of
      > circuit diagram and uses terms like electrochemical rather than
      > biochemical, digital, pixel, and so on. There are so many factors
      > involved in thought, that to reduce it a schematic may help him manage
      > his angst over the fact that he doesn't understand existentialism or
      > biochemistry. I've had enough.
      > Mary
      > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com <mailto:existlist%40yahoogroups.com>,
      > "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:
      > >
      > > Mary,
      > >
      > > I agree with what you say about Holt's book. It is an enjoyable read
      > and I learnt quite a bit about both science and philosophy which I
      > didn't know before, but I didn't feel I got a substantial new insight
      > into existence. With regard to the book, I would say the parts were
      > greater than the sum.
      > >
      > > I think you make a good point that there seems to be too much
      > interest in beginnings (a long time ago) and too little interest in
      > change (which is going on now).
      > >
      > > As you say, change involves the interplay between something and
      > nothing, and now the behaviour of humankind is affecting nature (for
      > example with global warming), change for the better or from the worse
      > is the result of human freedom.
      > >
      > > On the topic of freedom I am currently reading a book called "A
      > Theory of Freedom" by Philip Pettit. It is quite a difficult book --
      > very dense -- but I like Pettit's idea of freedom as non-domination.
      > He opposes the liberal idea of freedom as non-interference, by arguing
      > that in a society with unequal power relations (e.g. the rich having
      > more power than the poor, or men having more power than women), then
      > even if the more powerful act benignly and don't oppress the less
      > powerful, the mere fact that the less powerful rely on the good will
      > of the more powerful reveals that they do not have the freedom they
      > ought to have.
      > >
      > > A passage I have just read on what is involved in personal freedom
      > strikes me as relevant to your dialogue with Eduard. Pettit writes:
      > >
      > > "That an agent is a self means that he can think of himself, or she
      > can think of herself, in the first person as the bearer of certain
      > beliefs and desires and other attitudes and as the author of the
      > actions, and perhaps other effects, to which they give rise. And that
      > an agent is a free self means that the way attitudes are formed, and
      > lead to action, is consistent with holding the agent responsible.
      > There is nothing about the psychology of the agent in virtue of which
      > they are distanced from what they want and think and do, for example,
      > and have to look on those attitudes and actions like a more or less
      > helpless bystander. They must be able to see their own signature in
      > those attitudes and actions. They must be able to think: I want or
      > think or do that; this is me, and not just the work of an alien
      > mechanism within me."
      > >
      > > Eduard seems to want to say that rather than me deciding what to do,
      > it is my neurons deciding for me what to do. Or it is my mental
      > scripts deciding for me what to do. But talking this way about the
      > neurons or mental scripts sounds like the sort of "alien mechanism"
      > which Pettit says is exactly the opposite of human freedom. To view
      > myself as a "helpless bystander" whilst the neurons get down to the
      > serious business of living my life is to view myself as `unfree', as
      > lacking freedom.
      > >
      > > Jim
      > >

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • daveylee40
      It seems to me that we are limited to the qualities and capacities of humanness as supplied by the natural state of being human. Other than that, I personally
      Message 171 of 171 , Aug 25, 2013
        It seems to me that we are limited to the qualities and capacities of humanness as supplied by the natural state of being human. Other than that, I personally cannot conceive of a fixed nature or essence.

        --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Mary" <josephson45r@...> wrote:
        > No congratulations from Sartre unless I understand how I am being in-itself and being for-itself. Since I'm sufficiently satisfied with my grasp of Sartre's Bad Faith, I'm now going to spend some time with how Sartre explains what he considers the 'correct' view of in-itself for being human. What for Sartre is fixed as human essence other than existence, nothing, and freedom?
        > Mary
        > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eduardathome <yeoman@> wrote:
        > > Sartre could encounter the waiter whilst serving the table and ask "what are
        > > you??"
        > >
        > > "I'm a waiter"
        > >
        > > "Aha ... and obvious case of mauvais foi". "But, what are you besides a
        > > waiter??"
        > >
        > > "I'm a father of a family"
        > >
        > > "Still mauvais foi ... a sad case". "I mean, underneath, besides these
        > > particular roles??"
        > >
        > > "Of course, I am a human being".
        > >
        > > "Congratulations".
        > >
        > > eduard
        > >
        > > -----Original Message-----
        > > From: Mary
        > > Sent: Saturday, July 20, 2013 10:28 AM
        > > To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
        > > Subject: [existlist] Fixed nature
        > >
        > > We reject labels which identify us as essentially one particular thing. I am
        > > not my job, so whichever occupation I choose or find myself in and
        > > regardless of the education and training it requires, I am still not that
        > > position/role/job in-itself. It is this idea of having a fixed nature, a
        > > something in-itself, which Sartre opposes. We are being for-itself and
        > > either struggle or recoil at the thought of having the freedom of not having
        > > an identity (an in-itself) so we find ourselves in the 'project' or
        > > condition of bad faith. Sartre thinks our nature is to desire a fixed
        > > nature. But this is further complicated by the fact that others tend to
        > > label us as having a fixed nature.
        > >
        > > If I say you, eduard, are essentially a positivist or a reductionist or
        > > whatever, you reject this because you feel you are not that. If I say you
        > > are an electrical engineer, you're more likely to say this is true, but are
        > > you really only or strictly what your job entails? Aren't you first eduard,
        > > a human being who thinks and does many things besides his job? Aren't your
        > > ideas and ways of being constantly changing? To say that you perform your
        > > job/role as an electrical engineer means you are not strictly that block of
        > > identity. Even if you were to change careers, you wouldn't strictly be that
        > > new identity either. You would be free to be more than just that. Sartre
        > > means that all jobs are equal only in the sense that we still would not be
        > > identified strictly with what we do.
        > >
        > > To say I am not *that* means I am not merely a being in-itself. But it's
        > > more complicated, because if there weren't some facticity about being human,
        > > we wouldn't be able to negate it and be a being for-itself. We would merely
        > > be this block of identity. This is really what Sartre uses bad faith to
        > > explainâ€"the relationship between being in-itself and for-itself.
        > >
        > > Mary
        > >
        > > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eduardathome <yeoman@> wrote:
        > > >
        > > > Mary,
        > > >
        > > > I think that part of the difficulty may be that we are dealing with
        > > > 1930’s thought. The way I see it, Sartre is describing psychology as to
        > > > mental functioning and associated behaviour. But in the 1930’s there
        > > > was very little in the way of realising that we actually used our brains
        > > > to think, so Sartre and others had to resort to labels and phraseology
        > > > which might suffice.
        > > >
        > > > But since such phraseology is disconnected from reality, it easily leads
        > > > to convoluted statements such as, "If I am a cafe waiter, this can be only
        > > > in the mode of *not being* one." That statement makes no sense, and I
        > > > can well appreciate the need for 800 pages of reading to obtain some kind
        > > > of understanding. I don’t believe that such a statement would be made
        > > > by anyone today in the 21st century.
        > > >
        > > > I read the paragraph at least 4 times now and still cannot make any sense
        > > > of it. For example, â€Å"This is the result of the fact that while I must
        > > > *play at being* a cafe waiter in order to be one, still it would be in
        > > > vain for me to play at being a diplomat or a sailor, for I would not be
        > > > one”. I think that what Sartre is saying is that a â€Å"diplomat” is a
        > > > position that requires substantial training and something to which you are
        > > > assigned. You can’t just walk into the Ministry of State building and
        > > > start acting like a diplomat as one might act as a waiter when walking
        > > > into a restaurant. But if that is the case, then Sartre weakens his
        > > > argument for mauvais foi, since the diplomat could equally confuse himself
        > > > with his role.
        > > >
        > > > I agree with your understanding of bad faith. I asked at the office, what
        > > > was the meaning of â€Å"mauvais foi”. It comes down to misrepresenting
        > > > yourself to others, as for example to have a hidden agenda. Sartre seems
        > > > to be using the term as misrepresenting yourself to yourself. In regard
        > > > to the question of whether it is possible to misrepresent yourself to
        > > > yourself, I should think that it is entirely possible. There is nothing
        > > > in the rule book of brain thinking that one has to be entirely logical and
        > > > transparent.
        > > >
        > > > I think the example of the waiter is put in the wrong sense which
        > > > compounds the difficulty. The waiter is said to be too precise and
        > > > therefore he/she has mauvais foi. But it really should be expressed the
        > > > other way around, as waiters who have mauvais foi tend to act in too
        > > > precise a manner. Not all waiters who act precisely have mauvais foi.
        > > > Neither do all beau parleurs.
        > > >
        > > > eduard
        > >
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