Sartre - Freedom - Being & Nothingness

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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2009 11:07 pm
Freedom is our only being but we are not free to cease being free, said Sartre.

In oher words, the limit of our freedom is its neccesity and inevitability.


The problems i have with this are -

Is this really freedom, then?

This total all encompassing acknowledgement of freedom, the acceptance of a free will in regards to everything, would appear to be the opposite of a determinist theory......BUT by appreciating the inevitability of freedom does the idea not then involve a suggestion of determinism?

Furthermore, how can Sartres claim of 'absolute freedom' stand up against relatively simple criticisms of it, like hypnosis, psychotherapy or psychological tampering (ie. addiction)?

and finally,

when we acknowledge death as an inevitable is our freedom then not confined by such an inevitable pre-determined?

We may be free to choose our being from moment to moment but we do so aware that such modes are only temporary...thus invalidating their significance and as a consequence rendering our freedom irrelevant,

no?


-----

To generalise,


The idea that we have to choose a being, be it temporary or not, means we are not free. We are forced to will. We are forced to become.

How can that be free?


----- (ps. please do not move this to the existential section as there appears to be little activity there)

(Moderator edit: post moved to more appropriate forum. jgw)
 
jgweed
 
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 09:20 am
@illiades,
I doubt that Sartre would say that we are free, for example, to walk through a solid wall, or realistically be free to make that choice. So in some senses, there is a limitation to absolute freedom (he would call it our "situation"). What Sartre might say is that we cannot choose to not make a choice, and that we are thus condemned to be free, within our condition. This is an existential freedom (encouraged by nothingness), and not an absolute freedom. We are free, for example, to define who we are and how we comport ourselves towards the world, and he urges that this be done authentically and responsibly in his ethics.
 
illiades
 
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 10:17 am
@jgweed,
jgweed, thanks for the reply but it just re-affirms what i already believe to know.

I am interested in how this condemnation to choose can be considered free.
Granted, we are free post-condemnation, that after the requirement of becoming we are responsible for each action we take regardless of whatever influences may have impacted on us and become the reason for our choice.
This pre-requisite where we have to choose should negate the idea of freedom.

Continuing,
that the context of our deliberation is determined by its inevitability, we have to choose, is it not also compelled by the notion of death?
We have to die and this will be our escape from the condemnation of freedom, the neccesity to choose, but we continue having to choose our semi-permanent states, or modes, in spite of this.

We are free to do everything but stop being free.
We are free to do everything but stop being free, in the knowledge that death will be the release from the requirement 'to be'.

So, knowing that we are free bar freedom itself by neccesity and one day will be free from this having to choose, how in either situation are we ever actually free?

Even in the first person perspective we are not free, therefore, but are being teased by the notion. Flirted with.

'This' freedom amounts to little, if anything, other than a jest.
From this freedom we become semi permanent modes of something, interchangeable with something else, but never anything of consequence or matter. What type of freedom can it be if we can never actually be anything?
 
FireInTheWater
 
Reply Sun 8 Mar, 2009 10:01 am
@illiades,
We can cease being free by ceasing being.

He says so because he does not see suicide as an option. Feeling forced is also an option. Why not go with the flow?
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Sun 8 Mar, 2009 03:05 pm
@illiades,
We are free insofar as we have freedom. That this freedom is not limitless does not negate it's existence, merely limits it. Everything you have is limited. You have limited intelligence - that does not make you unintelligent. You have a limited number of fingers. That doesn't make you fingerless. What you seem to be arguing for is a specific definition of freedom that is impossible, and is not what is meant by Sartre.

What Sartre is speaking of here is the desire of people to surrender their freedoms to external authorities: such is bad faith. But we can never succeed in doing so.
 
Parapraxis
 
Reply Mon 9 Mar, 2009 02:32 am
@Bones-O,
Bones-O! wrote:
What Sartre is speaking of here is the desire of people to surrender their freedoms to external authorities: such is bad faith. But we can never succeed in doing so.


Has anybody read Erich Fromm's Escape from Freedom (or The Fear of Freedom in the UK). It was published a few years prior to Being and Nothingness, but certainly shares some of Sartre's ideas particularly "bad faith".

There's nothing to suggest that Sartre ever met Fromm or read his book/s, so I think it is "coincidence" that the two have (some) similar ideas.
 
nastrothomas
 
Reply Sat 6 Jun, 2009 08:15 pm
@illiades,
The man said himself complete freedom comes with responsibility, for yourself and every other human as a standard, not by obligation or bounded to the burden. The freedom he is speaking of is a personal one. He was trying to get across to the people of the time their situation and mindset is a product of nothing more than their own choices. There choices were commonly made due to imaginary social and moral restraints. There was a second part to it too. This is where I was confused, He said the action we take is what define us. If there is no restraint or moral why then would we be come the product of exactly that?
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 07:28 am
@illiades,
I think it fair to say that for Sartre freedom is not an absolute, but always limited by our own situation. We do not choose to be born, and neither do we choose to die; what we can choose is how we will BE- - -our life as it were constitutes, defines our own essence (one of the ways existence preceeds essence).

The situation of man, as Sartre tells us, is that he cannot escape the necessity of choice; even not to choose is a choice. Thus for Sartre, freedom is always an ontologically conditioned freedom. Bad faith is an attempt to hide from this freedom, to deny it for Others or for oneself by turning an pour-soi into an en-soi, a subject into an object.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 08:58 pm
@illiades,
I view Sartre as a late Romantic poet. (That's a metaphor). Man is condemned to be free. How tragic, and in its roundabout way, heroic. Existentialism is a gloomy Satanism. I mean Satan as a myth, as the character in Paradise Lost. I mean also, for instance, the Byronic hero.

Sartre is a funeral you had better not fart at.

I don't think we should ever forget that philosophers are men and that all the world is a stage.

Sartre is certainly profound in relation to the odious Victim Culture that surrounds us. He could be interpreted as a moralist. He wants us to stop making excuses and accept responsibility.

And yet Determinism is implicit is our stress on education (moral, intellectual, and technical). Dialectical Materialism is deterministic in its broad strokes. Freedom remains as a heroic myth, a lie that makes you smell better.
 
Klingsor phil
 
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 02:14 pm
@Reconstructo,
"Freedom is the necessity to work" wrote Sartre in a posthumous note. This is a very instructive quote.

Freedom does not mean that you can do whatever you want. We live in a material world and have to care for our life, so we have certain constrictions. But we are not hard-coded machines, nor are we driven by pure instincts.

That means we have to choose. Why do you think that to choose would be a poor freedom? Oppressed people in a dictatorship go on the streets and call for "freedom" - and they don't mean anarchy, no laws and no limits at all. They mean free choice. Of course Sartre speaks about freedom in a general, philosophical way, but political freedom is a good metaphor in this context.

Even a prisoner has to choose. He has not the freedom to walk out of the prison, but he has to choose either if he resigns to the fact that he is imprisoned or if he plans his escape and takes the first opportunity for it. (This is not only theory: Sartre was a POW in a German camp, and he escaped.)
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 6 Feb, 2010 11:17 pm
@Klingsor phil,
Klingsor;114452 wrote:
"Freedom is the necessity to work" wrote Sartre in a posthumous note.


Freedom as necessity. Reminds me of classic religious paradoxes. Abase yourselves to be exalted. The first shall be last, etc.

Jung quote that chap who said "I believe because it is absurd" and put an unexpected spin on it. "I believe because paradox is sexy." Wasn't something like this Oscar Wilde's excuse for all those bloodied hotel sheets?

Condemned to be free, right? That's as sexy as vinyl to petite coeds draped in American Apparel. (I'm not trying to be rude, as I don't think fashion is stupid.)

Is the essence of the Western Enlightenment the Transcendental Pretension, by which I mean the idea of universal rock-bottom truth -- applied with equal measure to the middle class and the aristocracy? Death was not the leveler they needed. They couldn't wait that long. Add Kant to Rousseau in a medium sauce pan.

Sartre pretended to write non-fiction. (Here's a quip: philosophers are autobiographers who pretend to write non-fiction.)
 
Antoine Roquenti
 
Reply Sun 21 Feb, 2010 08:18 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;41416 wrote:
I doubt that Sartre would say that we are free, for example, to walk through a solid wall, or realistically be free to make that choice. So in some senses, there is a limitation to absolute freedom (he would call it our "situation"). What Sartre might say is that we cannot choose to not make a choice, and that we are thus condemned to be free, within our condition. This is an existential freedom (encouraged by nothingness), and not an absolute freedom. We are free, for example, to define who we are and how we comport ourselves towards the world, and he urges that this be done authentically and responsibly in his ethics.


Yes, the facticity in every siuation (or the overall facticity ) plays a great role for our freedom and for how we can and cannot exercise it. It signifies all of the concrete details against the background of which human freedom exists and is limited. So even though we are not free to walk through a solid wall, or make a choise to do so, it does not mean that that we are not free(dom).
 
exile
 
Reply Sun 28 Feb, 2010 02:55 pm
@illiades,
Having bought a copy of being and nothingness I found it extremely hard to follow. I'd really like to see a good precis!

It did seem odd that Sartre, expousing a philosophy emphasising our individuality, was also a Marxist, bearing in mind Marx was really only interested in individuals as members of society and had no place for liberal ideas of individual liberty.
 
 

 
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