a man amidst mankind: back again to dasein

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Re: a man amidst mankind: back again to dasein

Postby iambiguous » Thu Sep 05, 2019 7:09 pm

"Identity and Freedom in Being and Nothingness"
Stephen Wang in Philosophy Now magazine.

Matthieu [in The Age of Reason] wants to justify his actions and base them on good reasons, or at least on some overwhelming desire; but by interrogating his motives, by trying to establish whether they are compelling, he distances himself from them.


This exposes the extent to which how [for some of us] the more you attempt to think through a situation looking for reason and motive and meaning, the more you actually come to things like dasein, conflicting goods and political economy.

The part about "overwhelming desire" seems more in sync with the libido, with instinct, with those deep down inside drives the human brain is notorious for. Just go where they take you, right? Why? Because as soon as you stop to think it all through rationally, to "analyze" it all "philosophically", the more likely you are to end up in the hole that "I" am in all busted up like Humpty Dumpty.

The process of examining his motives shows they have no binding power over his future: the search for obligations leads him to freedom because it uncovers the fact that alternative courses of action are also viable. However costly it seems, the price of being conscious of an identity is a corresponding liberation from that identity, with an ever-present responsibility for continuing or denying that identity. We experience this responsibility through anguish.


All I can say here is that this is more or less what happened to me the more I became immersed in existentialism, deconstruction and semiotics. I began to see how my own objectivist frame of mind was largely just a world of words brought together either by God or political ideology.

And, now, as a moral nihilist, that anguish pops up whenever I am confronted with conflicting goods embedded in this:

If I am always of the opinion that 1] my own values are rooted in dasein and 2] that there are no objective values "I" can reach, then every time I make one particular moral/political leap, I am admitting that I might have gone in the other direction...or that I might just as well have gone in the other direction. Then "I" begins to fracture and fragment to the point there is nothing able to actually keep it all together. At least not with respect to choosing sides morally and politically.

"I" am no longer able to think myself up out of it.

This is not just a point about the fact that our identities change, since anguish does not come about when a past identity is forgotten and a new one adopted. Rather, anguish is a sign that human beings are ‘separated from themselves’, from the identities that constitute who they are now. We can review the present and not just the past, and we have a continual responsibility to recreate our identities through our choices.


You either come to embody this frame of mind or you don't. For me, it's not so much bearing the responsibility of recreating my identity "authentically", but of recognizing how many variables here are either beyond my comprehension or beyond my control. And that no set of behaviors is necessarily either more or less authentic. The "nausea" is derived from the manner in which I construe "I" as the fractured and fragmented embodiment of dasein.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a man amidst mankind: back again to dasein

Postby iambiguous » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:15 pm

"Identity and Freedom in Being and Nothingness"
Stephen Wang in Philosophy Now magazine.

There are many ways of trying to avoid the responsibility for ourselves that comes with anguish. In Sartre’s scheme they all come under the heading of ‘bad faith’ (self-deception). One instructive type of bad faith is ‘sincerity’. This is a technical term in Sartre’s vocabulary: it is the attempt ‘to be who we are’; to make our life match our identity; to conform our actions with our supposed inner reality.


In other words [perhaps], another way of pointing to those who, in my view, are able to think themselves into believing in the existence of a "real me" in sync with the "right thing to do". That way, others can then be judged as more or less "sincere" about living "the good life" to the extent that they live it as you do.

What I call the "bad faith" of the objectivists.

On the other hand [of course], one can then conclude that unless others share this point of view, they are themselves seen by me to be acting in bad faith.

Good faith? Bad faith? Talk about "existential contraptions"!

But, lets face it, psychological defense mechanisms exist above all else to minimize anguish in our lives. Only, as I see it, it still comes down to the actual sets of behaviors that are chosen. What does it mean, when confronting conflicting goods, to claim that one is acting in bad faith? From my frame of mind, it means insisting there is only one obligatory -- rational and moral -- set of behaviors. But then others can insist that I am then claiming that to the extent others don't share this point of view themselves, they are acting in bad faith.

Which is not what I am saying at all. If I were, I'd be excluding myself from my own point of view.

But as soon as we spot whatever ‘essential’ aspect of our being it is that we want to display, we realise that we are neither identified with this ‘essence’ nor bound by it. To explain or excuse our behaviour with reference to ‘who we are’ is already to put some distance between our present actions and the past ‘identity’ which supposedly caused them, by our reflection upon this identity. We stake a claim to a ‘self’ and immediately betray our distance from it.


This is the part where many come not only to objectify others but to objectify themselves in turn:

“Total, constant sincerity as a constant effort to adhere to oneself is by nature a constant effort to dissociate oneself from oneself. One frees oneself from oneself by the very act by which one makes oneself an object for oneself.” Sartre


Still, I always come back again and again to taking intellectual contraptions/general descriptions such as this out into the world of actual human interactions. What, for all practical purposes, do words such as these mean when describing actual behaviors in conflict?

My point is that to the extent we distant ourselves from objectification, the closer we come to being down in my "hole"...with "I" more or less "fractured and fragmented".

Then I go in search of the narratives of those who are convinced that they do not objectify "I" [in the is/ought world] but are not in turn fractured and fragmented as "I" am.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
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