A transcendental perspective on the early Sartre

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jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Any examination of Jean Paul Sartre has to recon with the early and later Sartre, see Robert Knudsen's lectures on Existentialism at wts media archives for this, here I'm going to focus on the early Sartre.
In the book Nausea his character is chopping away at a tree to find its substance or essence and its not there, there's nothing there. As well in his play "No Exit" in which he famously says "hell is other people" gives insight to his thoughts.
But the crux of his earlier thought is best contained in the book "Being And Nothingness". He separates the world into two different kinds of things, being-for-itself and being-in-itself. Or things with choice vs things that are just there.
So whats his argument? Taking for granted his idea that things are just out there for no purpose until we use them for something, we do have to start with us.
Like his character "chopping away at a tree" we have to use phenomenology to answer the question. Basically you have to "bracket off" our perception of things we experience, as well as our thoughts of those things. Thats phenomenology. What our we left with as far as our essence or substance is Nothingness. This makes up the second part of his book I believe. So we have at our very core a "Nothingness" to contend with.
Now "the other", this is a philosophical problem invented by these people for reasons I will attempt to show. How do we view other people? They can easily be used as objects for whatever desire. In asking someone to hand you something you are "objectifying" or using them like a tool or a thing. So to live authentically you have to not become an object. To become an object is "bad faith" (hell is other people).
Now much more could be said about Sartre. But what can we say from a transcendental perspective? First the other is a fellow creature of God's design, "its not good for man for to be alone". Is it really necessary or even "possible" in life to get along without other people? Sartre had no problem with using women for his own desires. But we have the commandment to "love our neighbor as ourselves" in part because we need our neighbors to survive. Why do we feel pain and turmoil when we see "bad things happening to good people"? Because they're good people from our perspective.
Now the fundamental problem is that we are Nothingness in our core being. Gabriel Marcel pointed this out in his critique of Sartre in that there is no possibility of an ethic there. Why treat people as anything but objects? But are we nothing or something? We would say we are the very images of God and deserve to be treated with a similar reverence as we would the almighty. So all in all he doesn't even provide the very possibility for ethical treatment of others or ourselves.
But how can we be Nothingness?
He said Nothingness "is" or we couldn't talk about it. Thats a rather weird transcendental take on it but whatever. Is there even the possibility of us being Nothingness in our core being? I think not, saying "Nothingness is or we couldn't talk about it" has no connection with anything else. So no possibility of that even relatable to anything.
So I hope I've shown the heart of Van Til’s method in eliminating the possibility of other WV to get what they want, they want their cake and they want to eat it to.
 

Physeter

Puritan Board Freshman
I studied Sartre a while back. He objectified people other than himself. It wasn't just women. He really did not have a moral compass or any ethics. He supported communists and did not say anything about their gulags. It only objected to the abuses of a government when it suited his purposes.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I studied Sartre a while back. He objectified people other than himself. It wasn't just women. He really did not have a moral compass or any ethics. He supported communists and did not say anything about their gulags. It only objected to the abuses of a government when it suited his purposes.
Yeah I plan on doing a thread about the later Sartre and his turn towards Marxism soon. His early work just couldn't grasp what todo with the problem of other people or morality.
 

Physeter

Puritan Board Freshman
His early views set him up for the issues he had later in life. It was a progression. It could be best described as 'folding in'. He looked inward rather than outward. His philosophy is driven by how it affects him, not others.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
His early views set him up for the issues he had later in life. It was a progression. It could be best described as 'folding in'. He looked inward rather than outward. His philosophy is driven by how it affects him, not others.
I agree with that as far as ultimate ends goes but he did seek for an ethic outside of himself in Marxist thought. I'm reading his later works now to pin down what his main philosophical problem was.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
I recall a sense of the unremarkable in Age of Reason. The goal might have been to get an abortion, but there was no moral contrast, just an eerie emotional flatness. You're free, but there's nothing to gain or lose in what you choose to do. I had read his straight-up philosophical works, but it's this novel that still gives me the creeps 40 years later.
 

Physeter

Puritan Board Freshman
I find his philosophy and the work I have read unremarkable. I haven't read the creepy novel. I agree, emotionally he's flat. That probably comes from his apathy toward the other person.

In my opinion there is general blandness to atheistic thought and art.
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
We had to read "No Exit" in high school. I wasn't really sure what the point of the work was, but my friends and I were happy there was a play version of "Hotel California".
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Jamey,

Other than Sarte being profiled in Paul Johnson’s “Intellectuals” I know little about him. When I get some usable French, I may take a crack at him. Are Derrida and Focault successors to him in some way?
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I recall a sense of the unremarkable in Age of Reason. The goal might have been to get an abortion, but there was no moral contrast, just an eerie emotional flatness. You're free, but there's nothing to gain or lose in what you choose to do. I had read his straight-up philosophical works, but it's this novel that still gives me the creeps 40 years later.
Yes, you're correct. In his famous essay on Existentialism as humanism he recalls a young man who came to him for advice on whether or not to join the war. He flatly said something to the the affect of "either way it doesn't matter".
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Jamey,

Other than Sarte being profiled in Paul Johnson’s “Intellectuals” I know little about him. When I get some usable French, I may take a crack at him. Are Derrida and Focault successors to him in some way?
Not exactly. They were part of Poststructualism. For Focault he was obsessed with power in society in all its different forms. Derrida was obsessed with the metaphysics we try to convey, but can't completely, with language its always just outside our grasp to fully convey it. Its almost mystical for our finite language to convey. Can you ever really know what someone means exactly by my heart aches in an emotional sense? Language is too slippery for that. Focault said, somewhere, the subject doesn't exist. Both thinkers were flying in the face of Existentialism at this time but the set of questions that were being discussed were influencedby it, so there's that connection.
Roland Barthes preceded them in some ways and he was influenced by Sarte. He was also one of Focault's lovers. You see at this time all the major existentialist had moved on and a new philosophy took its place.
The linguistic turn that England and America had gone through a little earlier had arrived in France and Germany.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
:duh:
Um yeah. This highlights the fact that these thinkers really did not have a moral compass.
At least he didn't get aids like Focault did. Focault lived his Nietzstian philosophy of power by engaging in sadomaestochistich (sure I didn't spell that right) anonymous sex. But it just goes to show the internal inconsistencies in their thought.
Sartre wanted the subject to be ultimate (autonomy anyone?). The Poststructualists come along and dismantle the very idea of the subject, "the subject is spoken rather than speaking." They want their cake and to eat too. But they don't even have the possibility for what they want. It's not just that they're wrong but what they want and experience isn't even possible in their worldview.
As I've been attempting to show through concrete analysis is how powerful Van Til's transcendental perspective is demonstrated. I think the greatest critique of presuppositionalists is we talk a lot about method and what not to do but seldom show the method in action. I hope my series will be of that correction at least and be beneficial to that end. Thats why I'm taking my time to be as accurate to the thinkers philosophy as possible and not just willy-nilly stuff. Like relativism says all truth is relative but is that truth absolute or not (all means all), Richard Rorty was a relativist and thats why he's wrong. Any philosopher worth his or her salt can see that coming a mile away. How many professional philosophers who criticized Rorty for that wound up lacerated in embarrassment for leveling that critique at him, 3 collections of essays by him at least. And they should know better.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Jamey,

Other than Sarte being profiled in Paul Johnson’s “Intellectuals” I know little about him. When I get some usable French, I may take a crack at him. Are Derrida and Focault successors to him in some way?
Another crack at this. Remember for Existentialism the individual person was Supreme. For Focault and Derrida the subject was in a sense nonexistent. I can explain that to anyone either public or privately. But they still were talking about individual people not abstractions. So they can't even make sense of who they're talking to for the possibility of interaction with another human being. They took Sartre to his logical conclusions but couldn't even make sense of what he wanted to do and what they wanted to do. Nonsense.
 
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