So far, my birthday has been memorable. And very different from previous years.
What do I say when people say happy birthday? Thank you? But I didn't do any of the work?
Thursday, November 26, 2009
10 short answers (3-5 sentences)
exclusively expository; no critical dimension/assessment of argument
exposition of what the Q asks
ie) What does Cogito mean and how does Descartes establish it?
all readings are up for grabs
not going to ask about reading sections not brought up in lectures (no murky details within readings)
all things on exam will come from elements from readings, but also lecture
lecture notes = travel guide through what is important from the readings
study from lecture notes
choice of 2 essay questions
ask for an argument/assessment/take a stance (like in the 2 essays)
ie) In this essay, I am going to argue P, etc...
December 9th @ 9:00am-12:00pm / Stirling
Existentialism ~ J.P. Sartre
- definitions of heart and soul of existentialism:
Existence precedes essence [***]
Choice brings responsibility
Responsibility raises anguish
Choice is self-invention
movement within Christianity
devout atheist (Sartre); not necessary component of existentialism
Kierkegaard was a devout Christian (mentioned in the piece)
Existence precedes essence
there is no human nature/necessary human nature that is inscribed into the human being independently of the way the life is lead (by God, biology, human history, etc.)
no existing nature of the human person
examples of implanted human nature:
nature of human nature = sinful, for example (planted by divine being)
humans are self-interested
existentialist denies this
existence comes before, essence comes later
no pre-existing essence prescribed into the human person by God/biology/history/religion/etc.
popping into the world as a conscious being = first!
we are works in progress of self-creation
only essence that we can discover is what it is we write into ourselves (it is up to us to inscribe essences into us)
tease out possibility of self-creation/building yourself into a person (you cannot constitute your own essence)
nature of the person is up to the person to write into themselves (nature doesn’t come from outside, but from within)
no independent essence that will serve as a reference point for what it is we ought to do/who it is we ought to be
ie) essence of self inscribed by God = point of reference outside ourself to allow us to shape our own life in accordance to the reference point
allows dimension of measurement as to what it is we ought to do, etc.
ie) ^ = our being is planned in accordance to religion
existentialist denies this (there is no essence inscribed into us; it is all self-creation without having a point of reference that is independent of our choices; we choose things for reasons and are responsible for them; choices that we make cannot be measured against some kind of outside point of reference; it is all internal to the kinds of choices we make)
Choice brings responsibility
given 1/that we are works in progress, we have choices about how we are going to act/do/etc.
the opportunity for choice (free ranging/total) brings dimension of responsibility
we are going to become the people we choose to be (because we are able to)
ie) I can choose to come to class today, and I did.
stuck with the freedom to choose
human beings are condemned to be free
human beings are doomed to freedom (we have no independently existing essence)
our choices are framed by the decisions that we make
crushing kind of responsibility upon us
choices by ourselves are choices for everyone (ie. we lead lives together, choose to become certain kinds of people which has repercussions on other people)
ie) Choosing to sit here allowed Rae to choose to sit to my right.
we have the opportunity for molding ourselves
Responsibility raises anguish
the consciousness of this responsibility brings about anguish
anguish is consciousness of the fact that we have no external reference point
I am totally responsible for the person I want to become; the anguish is born from the realization that there is no independent reference point
choice is total (no reference point against how we can measure the worth of our choices)
we begin to feel the dread of responsibility of our choices brought about by our very existence
ie) If I hear the voice of an angel telling me to do something, I still make the decision to choose to obey the angel or disobey it [inspired by a religious context, political principles, revolution, etc.]
we still have the choice as to whether we will hear them from the outside as giving us good advice, or bad advice
ie) voice of angel = voice of conscience (we still the choice to obey/disobey our conscience)
you always have the choice [doesn’t mean that we’ll always act well, we just have the choice regardless]
conscience can be molded by decisions you make/efforts of self-creation you undertake [writing your own story] - at each stage, you still have the choice to listen/not listen to your conscience
Choice is self invention
we are always inventing ourselves in projecting ourselves into the future (making plans, undertaking behaviours)
there is no means, there is no map
no independent measure of success or failure (no outside ‘yardstick’ of if we can measure our choices as right/wrong)
perpetual uncertainty about whether we are doing rightly or wrongly (no measure to the answer of that question)
if there is no universal reference point, how can we ever say it is good/bad
what if the outcome brings you pain and suffering (pain=bad though?)
assignment/blame? (in the ethical context) - we’re looking at a more general view
no metaphysical fact of the matter of the necessary components of human nature
this is wiped out by the existentialist.... we are inventing ourselves & we are making it up as we go along! (we don’t know what is going to happen next/whether our choices will be good/bad or right/wrong)
this is the existentialist despair!
it is an absurd life we are leading in virtue of there not being an essence to our meaning
no meaning = we are leading lives that are absurd - but can, nevertheless, be good lives, if they are lead according to features of our choice that we are to say they are praiseworthy (ie. becoming courageous instead of cowardly)
we can shape/mold our personality and write our own character (we are responsible for writing it ourselves)
we cannot be sure if we are doing it well/poorly / there is no standard to live up to (no human independent standard that we can measure up to ourselves)
ie) a divine being (God) would act as a measure, but an existentialist denies this measurement/divine being/etc.
responsibility for becoming who it is we are brings about anguish because we cannot know if it is well done or not
we do have the measure in a human community though (Sartre’s way out = human solidarity/realization that we are in this together) - presence of others allows us opportunity for shaping our lives in the first place (you cannot be a human creature alone, you have to be in a system of network and relationships)
The Plague (book) - Camus
thrusts upon us constraints in existentialist situations
ie) gun to head (give me your wallet)
existentialist choice = could choose not to give up your wallet and get shot in expression of your freedom
last sentence = death rate falls, think it’s over, “The rats have come back.” [absurdity; that’s life happening]
when everything seems to be going well, there seems to be a release from absurdity, then the rats come back...
human solidarity hasn’t worked, so what do we do next?
we carry on making choices in human solidarity (don’t lie down and die)
to make existentialist choice is to adopt responsibility and link arms with others, even though the rats are returning
see a way through absurdity
responsibility raises anguish, yes, but invent yourself as you will, in such a way as to live up to a lucid realization of your responsibilities and how total they are, and carry on against the rats, even though you know they’re coming back
he sees a way through absurdity (Sartre, Camus, etc.) - fighting/resistance/rebellion
rebellion, in the consciousness that it will lead nowhere
but, rebel anyways! (I am inventing myself, I can make myself, and I can make myself into the kind of person that will fight the rats, or will roll over and die)
fight the rats or fall over?! - all your self creation