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An apology for-yourselves

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  • Mary
    eduard & Jim, You are both right to question my understanding of the In-itself as a mode of consciousness. I poured over the text last night and realized my
    Message 1 of 171 , Jul 8, 2013
      eduard & Jim,

      You are both right to question my understanding of the In-itself as a mode of consciousness. I poured over the text last night and realized my error. As Sartre repeats throughout Being and Nothingness, "Consciousness is always consciousness of something." He does go into some length, as you have indicated Jim, on the two modes of consciousness as pre-reflective and non-thetic-or-positional and non-positional.

      Sartre, however, does say that the Ego is In-Itself: "In an article in Recherches Philosophiques I attempted to show that the Ego does not belong to the domain of the for-itself. I shall not repeat here. Let us note only the reason for the transcendence of the Ego: as a unifying pole of Erlebnisse [lived experiences] the Ego is in-itself, not for-itself."

      Also, at the end of his introduction he asks, "What is the ultimate meaning of these two types of being? For what reasons do they both belong to being in general? What is the meaning of that being which includes within itself these two radically separated regions of being?"

      Regarding the human being as in-itself, eduard, Sartre writes, "Now, to be exact, I am *in fact* in so far as I have a past, and this immediate past refers to the primary in-itself on the nihilation of which I arise through *birth." thus the body as facticity is the past as it refers originally to a *birth;* that is, to the primary nihilation which causes me to arise from the In-itself which I am in fact without having to be it. Birth, the past, contingency, the necessity of a point of view, the factual condition for all possible action on the world—such is the body, such it is for me." Being for-itself cannot be without being in-itself.

      Sartre's concern is to unify as a totality the two modes of being, yet keep their identities intact, and to show they relate to one another through nothingness. So an existent (as being in-itself) doesn't exist for consciousness (as being for-itelf) unless there is consciousness to perceive it. Being for-itself doesn't exist without being in-itself which it nihilates in attempting to found itself for itself. Neither being founds itself; they depend on one another for us.


      --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:
      > Mary,
      > In reply to Eduard, you write:
      > "Think of it this way: consciousness is a thing, it exists, it is or has being. Consciousness in-itself is simply pure sense perception and pure experience without reflection or intent. Consciousness which perceives and 'records' experience just is what it is. Yes, it is an awareness but not of itself, so it is merely in-itself. It is pre-reflective and without intention."
      > Although I am finding this aspect of Sartre's philosophy difficult, I am not convinced that how you describe Sartrean consciousness here is how Sartre himself would describe it. In McCulloch's commentary which I have now nearly finished, there is no reference to consciousness as "being-in-itself". On the contrary consciousness is described as "empty" and "being-for-itself".
      > McCulloch does talk of the difference between first-order consciousness and second order-consciousness as well as the contrast between thetic consciousness and non-thetic consciousness.
      > I shall quote the central sections of McCulloch's book where he discusses these issues:
      > Two modes of self-consciousness As already mentioned, Sartre considers all conscious episodes to posit an intentional object. Now among such intentional objects are acts of consciousness themselves. I might think about the Eiffel Tower, and then think about this act itself: `That's the first time for a week that I've recalled that day in Paris when . . .'. The first act of consciousness, Act 1, which has the tower as intentional object, has here become the intentional object of a further (self-reflective) act of consciousness, Act 2. This mode of self-awareness he calls `reflective consciousness' or `thetic self awareness' (B&N: xxix; TE: passim; STE: 56). However Sartre makes a great deal of the point that this is not the only form of self-awareness we enjoy. He claims that in addition to this reflective and explicit self-consciousness, which is just a special case of an act of consciousness positing an intentional object, we are also always at least implicitly self-conscious in a special way, even when we are not explicitly reflecting. Even while I am engaged in Act 1 above, even before explicitly becoming self-conscious in Act 2, Sartre would insist that I was implicitly aware of myself as thinking about the Eiffel Tower (Act 2 is also thus implicitly self-aware, although it would take an Act 3 for it to become the intentional object of an act: see TE: 44-5). He calls this special kind of implicit self-awareness, `pre-reflective consciousness [or cogito]', and also `non-thetic self-awareness'. Even if my attention is completely absorbed in the intentional object of my consciousness, say this screen now before me, this fact is available to me in the non-thetic mode:
      > "there must be an immediate, non-cognitive relation of the self to itself" (B&N: xxix) (McCulloch, pp. 9-10)
      > Sartre concludes that an act of consciousness must have a primitive way of knowing itself, and that it is this feature which makes it possible for it to serve as intentional object to a further act. But, clearly, this primitive way of knowing itself cannot be accommodated by the doctrine of intentionality, since the whole problem was that acts of consciousness cannot serve as intentional objects unless they have some feature besides that of being directed at an object. Hence Sartre's distinction between thetic and non-thetic consciousness. Thetic consciousness is directedness at intentional objects, be they material things or acts of consciousness: non-thetic consciousness is a non-intentional form of self-awareness which all (human) conscious activity involves, and which makes it possible for us to reflect thetically on our own conscious acts:
      > "it is the non-reflective consciousness which renders the reflection possible; there is a pre-reflective cogito which is the condition of the Cartesian ego." (B&N: xxix; cf. TE: 43ff., PI: 10-11)
      > And it is non-intentional self-consciousness which supplies the extra component, along with intentionality itself, involved in the being of consciousness. Thus
      > "the type of existence of consciousness is to be consciousness of itself. And consciousness is aware of itself in so far as it is aware of a transcendent object. All is therefore clear and lucid in consciousness: the [intentional] object with its characteristic opacity is before consciousness, but consciousness is purely and simply [non-thetic] consciousness of being [thetically] conscious of that object. This is the law of existence." (TE: 40)
      > The esse of consciousness does not consist in being perceived, but consists in being non-thetically aware of itself as thetically aware of intentional objects. A mental act, which thereby has an intentional object, is only a conscious positing of that intentional object in virtue of its non-thetic self-awareness. (McCulloch, p. 101)
      > I think, Mary, you were making these distinctions in some of your earlier exchanges with Eduard, but I hope these quotes are helpful in revealing the subtleties and complexities of Sartre's account.
      > Jim
    • 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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