Sartrean Musings : Forum : Let's begin ... Existence ...


Let's begin ... Existence ...

14 Years Ago


First of all, thanks Katherine for this group …

Let me take a risk by posting the first post (I say risk because a beginning can often determine the ending ...)
Anyway, I haven’t read the whole of ‘being and nothingness’ yet (I have an enormous list of books I want to buy …) but I have always liked Sartre, like him especially because like Nietzsche and Spinoza he is not that much of a ‘professional’ (read: academic) philosopher). What always has strikes me as the most important about Sartre, is his notion that existence precedes essence. What I think is most important about this central core of Sartre’s thought (and what actually is kind of a central part to my own thinking) is that it really is radical overhaul of Descartes’ Cogito. What does Sartre really mean when he says that existence precedes essence? Linguistically, what is existence? What is essence? Existence is just ‘to be’ and our essence just ‘to think’; so the brilliance of Sartre is that he rephrased Descartes: “I am thus I think”!

Steven

[no subject]

14 Years Ago


Firstly, (and not to correct you to make you look bad), Sartre did not invent the idea of "existence precedes essence". He did popularize and define that concept to a new level, but did not invent it. I believe that, once again, it was an adopted stance originally planted by the musings of Hegel (as his philosophy on death)... but Hegel never solidified those musings and really believed in them whole-[mind]edly like Sartre.

My favorite Sartrean philosophies are that of outliving oneself (Nausea) and the notion of God existing if only to choose the time of your death. Death defines us as who we were living, because we can no longer change and will forever be known as who we were when we died. So there could technically be a God or creator in the existentialist world that chose the time of our death and therefore "created" our essence. And "OUTLIVING" yourself, well, that's a rather significant idea that clashes with so many other philosophies on "self" that it's astounding. I absolutely love the exponential facets of that concept and where I can take it in my head. I mean, people grow and change and evolve into a place where they're pretty comfortable with their personal philosophies and their convictions, right? But what if they became brutally nihilistic after that point and just dropped their former self altogether? The christian idea of "dying to yourself" (for jesus) could be applicable to this sort of idea, except minus Jesus. And that's what makes it so cool... I mean, where's the motivation?

Ah hell. I've gotten carried away. Lets hear some other people's favorite Sartre-like thoughts.

[no subject]

14 Years Ago


Quote:
Originally posted by Katherine Moure
Firstly, (and not to correct you to make you look bad), Sartre did not invent the idea of "existence precedes essence". He did popularize and define that concept to a new level, but did not invent it. I believe that, once again, it was an adopted stance originally planted by the musings of Hegel (as his philosophy on death)... but Hegel never solidified those musings and really believed in them whole-[mind]edly like Sartre.



Lol, it is so hard sometimes to know who comes up with what :) It's like that
'nothing is true, everything is permitted'.
Can't really imagine Hegel saying that though, I'd think Hegel being the die-hard idealist he was would be all about essence rather than existence; but then is there anything Hegel did not say?
In any case, existence precedes essence does seem to be one of the most important aspects of Sartre, and it does sort of turn Descartes upside down (or inside out?) we are doomed to think in the same we are doomed to be free; this aspect of 'doom' really explains a lot of Nietzsche aswell, because we turn ourselves into slaves because we are doomed to think and be free and we cannot cope with such a damnation.



Quote:
Originally posted by Katherine Moure
My favorite Sartrean philosophies are that of outliving oneself (Nausea) and the notion of God existing if only to choose the time of your death. Death defines us as who we were living, because we can no longer change and will forever be known as who we were when we died. So there could technically be a God or creator in the existentialist world that chose the time of our death and therefore "created" our essence. And "OUTLIVING" yourself, well, that's a rather significant idea that clashes with so many other philosophies on "self" that it's astounding. I absolutely love the exponential facets of that concept and where I can take it in my head. I mean, people grow and change and evolve into a place where they're pretty comfortable with their personal philosophies and their convictions, right? But what if they became brutally nihilistic after that point and just dropped their former self altogether? The christian idea of "dying to yourself" (for jesus) could be applicable to this sort of idea, except minus Jesus. And that's what makes it so cool... I mean, where's the motivation?



It is remarkable really how death has always been such an important aspect in all of human history, just look at how religion is always of death and how everybody is always forced to face death one way or another. The force of death effectively coerces religious people to remain religious, because of a fear of hell; even in the pseudo-religious traditions of Greek mythology we have a quasi heaven and hell structure (Elysian fields versus Tartarean abodes) and the whole reason why man so desperately wants to cling to that notion of the soul is because of the fear of dying.
The idea of a God as the determination of one’s dead … well, it also is a nice interpolation of Nietzsche’s God is dead! But well, to live is always to have the sword of Damocles above us, in ‘face’ of us.
As for people growing to level where they are comfortable with themselves, I think that for the vast majority of people it is rather that he grows to where he is numb to his-self.
I like Nihilism and feel admiration for Jesus and Siddhartha (not religious of course) because of their leap into the unknown; to be nihilistic means to leave familiar ground behind, to get rid of all footing; so it is as much an affirmation of the self as it is an annihilation of the self. Christianity ultimately are the teachings of Saint Peter not of Jesus. It is actually clear really when reading the gospel of John, that Jesus was against dogma and religion, same for Siddhartha, he left teachings behind and left strict asceticism because it was as much a trap as a normal materialist life. Of course, all of this is more Kierkegaardian than it is Sartre, though Sartre also had this idea really that since one is doomed to be free, one is responsible for his-self, a person can only make his own choices.

Steven

[no subject]

14 Years Ago


everyone's terrified of death. are you joking. sure, those that were raised with religion and the after life and what not, tend to fear it more than those that have been spared from it. but surely you know, steven, that you'll die. this is unavoidable. if you deny it, you're just supressing it. this is why we have the arts. we sublimate our terrible fear of death and we angle it towards writing or a nice painting with real life dripping from it.

modern philosophy, in my opinion, has nothing to do with convictions. conviction is an old word that has run its route and no one uses conviction, they abuse it. having conviction is a probable paradox that i'll side-step, nod and focus on the unraveling life in front of me. walking to the library in the spring air to discover another rejection from a press. its facing complete rejection and how you react, how you digest, how you stand up and keep working that makes death so distant. philosophy is not a topic of discussion, it's a wide path that leads you away from death.

[no subject]

14 Years Ago


Quote:
Originally posted by Rimmy
everyone's terrified of death. are you joking. sure, those that were raised with religion and the after life and what not, tend to fear it more than those that have been spared from it. but surely you know, steven, that you'll die. this is unavoidable. if you deny it, you're just supressing it. this is why we have the arts. we sublimate our terrible fear of death and we angle it towards writing or a nice painting with real life dripping from it.



True, through one’s art one can become immortal in a certain way, I think I want my tombstone to read: ‘Now I am famous’ because I am certain I’ll be considered one of the great 21st century writers after I die, lol and if I am wrong … we’ll I’ll be too busy being dead.
I completely agree that people brought up with notions of the afterlife have more fear than those not. I think the Christian doctrine of heaven and hell actually makes things much worse, because there always is the normal fear of death and then there also is the fear of whether or not one has been good enough to go to heaven.
I know very well that I will die; death and suffering are after all the only certainties in life. Does the prospect of death frighten me? I like to think like Epicurus that where death is I am not etc so there is no need to be afraid of what cannot be of me; but then Epicurus was wrong really since death is always with is, since it is what defines us. To be honest I have been thinking of death for as long as I can remember, this obsession is of course a certain fear in disguise. It is not really death as such though that I am afraid of, but rather to die before my destiny is fulfilled; of course that fear is irrational since death is exactly the moment of fulfillment. A lot has changed though just under three years ago when my daughter Alexandria was born, because she is my destiny really and my biggest fear as such really is to die before I have finished guiding her and teaching her all that I could possibly teach her.


Quote:
Originally posted by Rimmy
philosophy, in my opinion, has nothing to do with convictions. conviction is an old word that has run its route and no one uses conviction, they abuse it. having conviction is a probable paradox that i'll side-step, nod and focus on the unraveling life in front of me. walking to the library in the spring air to discover another rejection from a press. its facing complete rejection and how you react, how you digest, how you stand up and keep working that makes death so distant. philosophy is not a topic of discussion, it's a wide path that leads you away from death.



A wide path that leads away from death, I like that a lot, yes philosophy is very much a being-alive I think because even when the philosopher thinks of death he is always filled with life.
I agree with convictions, people have this idea of freedom, so everybody always needs to have his opinion, but yes it is opposite of philosophy, because for me an opinion comes from the same movement as mythology, tailor-made answers created so that one does not have to face the uncertainty invoked by the question. Perhaps this uncertainty of questioning is precisely what makes philosophy so alive and perhaps there is some notion of Spinoza here, because it is to take life heads on, it means ‘to not surrender’, the philosopher is always determined and strangely finds solace in uncertainty because it brings that Cartesian liveliness.

Anyway, thanks for the great conversation, much appreciated.

Steven

[no subject]

14 Years Ago


immortality is not entirely accurate. i've noticed people use this term and i don't agree with it. how to put this... often i have day-dreams of entering a room, everyone there is waiting for me, now i have been recognized for how i think and what i've written. this is the part that has nothing to do with fame or having my name chiseled on a piece of rock. something closer to a deep loathing. why should i walk into this room and get my back slapped, congratulated, celebrated... the worst scenario of accomplishing a full piece of writing that in your mind has an essence of timelessness, the worst part in all of this chasing to be heard and then meeting a person that finally tells you 'oh, my... i get you.', there's something about this moment that resembles death. and its before the door opening. its before being recognized. its the realization, the sudden thought that this is really remarkable. do you see steven, the moment before you turn the door knob, all those eyes, hearts, minds have nothing to do with me sitting down and working on this novel. i never thought about those hearts and minds and now they're right before me. do you understand what i'm talking about. i didn't choose this wide path. i just found myself walking on it. i didn't do anything with the thought of the community. you see where i'm getting at. after it, then comes these thoughts of how it applies to the general good of society. even in saying this now it muddles the reality of those months working on it. i can never truly think in terms of just fro me. that's impossible, people are everywhere, but it is probable that in those extreme moments when typing another person's heart and mind was absent. and that's not entirely true, because there is always people in novels.

[no subject]

14 Years Ago


Now, I am confused and suspect that I have a split personality which is you because I was thinking something similar just yesterday!
Don’t worry … I am too sane to go insane, I have a remarkable ability to sort of being able to tell what is going on inside of my brain; though of course that might just be subjective because I ‘know’ that something is going on there.
Anyway, it struck me yesterday, that the audience really is the death of the artist, because the artist must ‘produce’, he gives something to the audience and in that givenness there is a certain death of the artist.

now i have been recognized for how i think and what i've written. this is the part that has nothing to do with fame or having my name chiseled on a piece of rock.
Yes, that is something important really, ironically though it has all to do with being chiseled on a rock, because you become that rock, you become that definition. It is why the law which Moses brought down from Mount Sinai, forbade graven images, idolatry is definition, so the anthropomorphizing of God is his annihilation. (Meant speculative of course since I am not religious, but have always enjoyed mythological symbolism, often plays an important role in my fiction.) Being is always destroyed by definition! Heraclitus is important here, we can never step in the same river twice; but the implied interpolation here, is that when we look at a river and say “this is the river” we create a segment of that river and destroy the totality, the true being of that river.

What are the famous last words?
THE END
People (the audience, the spectator) often forget that the end is merely the beginning because when it is written that something is the end, that is where the narration of imagination can begin.
I understand what you mean about immortality, the limitation placed upon existence by definition is in part the downfall of existentialism, because for instance when I say “I am what I write” there is arises a confusion about that statement, because it gets literally interpreted and it forgets the many layers of hermeneutical possibility. So a writer is not the finite catalogue of his work, but he is the infinite interpolation of his. Apparently James Joyce once said something along the lines that scholars would be busy for ever trying to figure out his work.

It seems we have a similar kind of narrative solipsism, indeed, the stranger we have never met is alien to the individual; we have nothing to do with the other, the significance of the other can only occur through relationship and interaction, there really is no such thing as a ‘potentiality’ of the I-Thou dynamics/dialects, it only arises as an actuality, as a real existing tension; but there can never be any potential tension, because I might never come to turn that doorknob, the moment might never occur and when it does occur, it always is a moment in its own right, it is pure ‘shock’, which is why one can never prepare himself, one can only ‘hope’ to have adequate self-control, because only through proper cohesiveness of ‘self’ can one possibly expect to control the actuality of that verb ‘to live’.

Once again, many thanks for the conversation, am most oblidged.
Steven