The Philosophy of Others

The Philosophy of Others

Now I know Simone said that she was a student of Sartre’s philosophy, but I think she was in fact his mentor, and he was the student who only half listened to the teachings. Simone not only produced the initial work that Sartre then expanded on for his Being and Nothingness, but also he used many examples from her book to emphasize his perspective. Often times Sartre did no expanding his…

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Torturing the Torturer  

Victims and those who commit the crimes against them are directly related. You cannot have one without the other and are dependant on each other to be. Sartre’s discussion on the concepts of freedom, oppression, and human nature will help explain and supplement much of this concept, but the tortured and torturer will give them a new light.

Anyone who has ever been tortured would argue that the…

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Being

“A being who is not what he is and is what he is not”

To think you have individual thought is not possible because as a child you learned that this is this and that is that. You were taught that you do not defecate in your pants because you are supposed to use the potty. It is NOT your idea to do so yet you do it every day. On the other hand you do not think yourself to be like someone you…

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The Philosophy of Others

Now I know Simone said that she was a student of Sartre’s philosophy, but I think she was in fact his mentor, and he was the student who only half listened to the teachings. Simone not only produced the initial work that Sartre then expanded on for his Being and Nothingness, but also he used many examples from her book to emphasize his perspective. Often times Sartre did no expanding his arguments beyond that particular example.

Her writings in Ethics of Ambiguity definitely highlight the depths of her differences from Sartre while carefully hiding her thoughts in obscure contrasts and word choices. In uses of the words tragic, joy, and nature she highlights things that would otherwise be passed over by others as typical adjectives and words in common sentences.

How do these words accentuate her concepts any differently than if another were to write the same words. Well, being that “nature” is part of the in-itself it really can not be a stand alone being so there for bringing it into the foreground to Sartre would be giving up your own freedom and be giving it to “nature.” Also joy is an emotion which Sartre seems to have a large problem with. Tragic implies fate, which for Sartre would be detrimental to his concepts in Being and Nothingness which depend on freedom from everything.

These concepts not only does she use in her text but she also is very passionate about her discussions on them. She argues that ethics and actions on the individual level are still conscious regardless of the aspect of God being in place or not.  She also discusses the paradoxical concept that once man considers himself free, he gives up the capability to wish.

Simone also discusses the concept of human spontaneity and the fact that despite it’s capability of being free, normally there is an intended direction that that being is striving for. That this intention to be free still hinders our freedom in the fact that any project we take up limits us on what projects we might have else taken up in its stead.

Sartre defines being as taking up projects and taking up projects to make yourself free despite any situation should in turn allow you to be free when that project is completed. But if this were the case, the next project taken up could define our being and again cause a lack of freedom.

Simone also argues disclosure is the path to finding freedom not simply defining what the obstacle is not. To list everything that something is not to determine its being just creates it, but does not give it the status of for-itself. You have to disclose it to the world to give it its being.

Sartre had a hard time arguing much of his concepts between the differences between the for-itself and the in-itself due to the conflict he perceived in having more than one for-itself in existence. He did not argue there was not the capability of being more than one, but he asserts that in order for two entities to be in one room, one must give way to being an in-itself for the for-itself to emerge.

This is also a topic that Simone discusses in Ethics of Ambiguity that expresses a conflict with Sartre’s book. She discusses fairly frankly in the fact that in order to become an in-itself the person who opts to do so, does willingly, and that it does not require shame to occur. This is a concept that Sartre depended on in his arguments to define the concept of for-itself and in-itself. To choose to give up your self at your own will, is a freedom and that in acting the right to do so is one of several things that not only did Sartre not discuss, but Simone seems to have a conflict with him not doing so.

Simone also touches on topics that Sartre does not that are very commonly seen themes in her book She Came to Stay. She points out the personalities and interactions with people and the 5 general stages of being and how they inter-relate. Subhuman, serious, nihilist, adventurer, and the passionate, express different aspects of being that Sartre vaguely touched upon.

Passionate is very closely related to the masochistic concept in the aspects of how they relate to each other, but Sartre leaves it as masochistic and sadistic as it’s opposite. He doesn’t discuss the concept that there is a concept of thought that can lead to or it can become after it has been satiated, which Simone calls the “serious” person.

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Torturing the Torturer  

Victims and those who commit the crimes against them are directly related. You cannot have one without the other and are dependant on each other to be. Sartre’s discussion on the concepts of freedom, oppression, and human nature will help explain and supplement much of this concept, but the tortured and torturer will give them a new light.

Anyone who has ever been tortured would argue that the gruesome acts done to them restrained them that would not allow them to be free. The physical state of being is definitely potentially a state of freedom that might have been subdued, but Sartre would argue that every being has the capability to recognize their freedom in all situations. “Therefore this suffering can not be in itself a motive for his acts. Quite the contrary, it is after he has formed the project of changing the situation that it will appear intolerable to him.” (B&N pg 562) This freedom is always present regardless of your physical state of being. The torturer can not invade the mind of the tortured unless the tortured chooses. Separation of the mind from the body is something that Sartre utilizes in justification that freedom is something that each person must possess in order to retain the for-itself.

Those who have been tortured would also disagree that they created the torturer. This perspective can definitely be understood as they had no direct relationship with the person. On the contrary, Sartre would argue this creation of the torturer occurs long before and escalates up to the point that the torture occurs. “Exploitation makes the exploiter dependent on the exploited… this dependence is at the heart of racism.” (Victory pg 75) Without some sort of conflict between the two to initiate the situation, neither the torturer nor the tortured could become who they do.

This leads us to the how the torturer becomes this vile creation. It is often said by the torturers that they do not know why they did what they did. Often times the torturers are declared by those who know them as acting completely out of their normal range of self when these incidents occur. But this is not to say they did not do these acts or to excuse their actions. This Sartre would explain as being part of an attempt to exert freedom. “The perpetrators… would like to convince themselves and their victims of their total dominance: at times they are super-humans who have people at their mercy, and at times they are strict and strong men who have been give in the task of taming the most obscene, the most ferocious, the most cowardly of animals: the human animal.” (Victory pg 67) The mind set of what occurs with those who are acting as torturers is that they are compelled to do such violent acts out of doing what is best for those whom the tortured are a threat to.

Torturers are often victims of older torture against themselves that these events now offer an outlet to exert their freedom; or offers a feeling that allows them a chance to regain their lost freedom and  they make a project to do so. “The sadist discovers that it was that freedom which he wished to enslave, and realizes the futility of his efforts.”(B & N pg 527)  This freedom is sought after and is the object which everyone desires to regain when they loose it. In the end the torturer feels no satisfaction in the torture because he realizes he can not enslave someone else’s freedom in order to regain his own.

This is not to say the tortured themselves are the threat but the class of people they are a member of, be it religious, racial or social standing based. Those who have been tortured often feel that the victimization has unjustly occurred. These events are not disputed as that the topic of torture is wrong but the events that lead up to the situation that occurred were just as immoral.

The two suffer torment together, be it the physical gruesome that the tortured often goes through or the mental anguish of the acts being done to someone by the hands of the torturer. The torturer has been convinced in his mind that there are secrets in this person and there sole objective has become to save others by extracting these secrets. “Useless violence: whether the victim talks or dies beneath the blows, the vast secret is elsewhere, always elsewhere, out of reach.” (Victory pg 73) The violence done by the torturer and taken by the tortured is futile, but at the time seems needed by the torturer based on the violence around them.

Opponents of the incidents of the torture that has occurred might argue that something has to be done and that those who did such things should be punished harshly. But those who find themselves in the position as torturers are often in a situation they are not prepared for. They have become members of a troop they did not enlist for and often really do not want to be a part of. “We would be fortunate if these crimes were acts of a handful of violent individuals: in truth, torture creates torturers… soldiers did not join an elite corps in order to torture the defeated enemy.” (Victory pg 70)

The events that occur between a tortured and the torturer are unpleasant for all involved, but Sartre sums it up well. “What is the use of troubling the conscience of the torturers? If one of them faltered, his superiors would replace him: there are plenty more where they came from.” (Victory 77) So despite the fact you always have you freedom, if it is used to extract a morality of those who are around you, you can not guarantee your project will be successful.
Works Cited

 

Sartre, Jean-Paul. Being and Nothingness. New York: Washington Square Press, 1956.

—. “A Victory.” Colonialism and Neocolonialism. 2001: 65-77.

 

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Being

Being Existential

“A being who is not what he is and is what he is not”

To think you have individual thought is not possible because as a child you learned that this is this and that is that. You were taught that you do not defecate in your pants because you are supposed to use the potty. It is NOT your idea to do so yet you do it every day. On the other hand you do not think yourself to be like someone you despise because they have qualities you don’t have. But at the same time they despise you for despising them, so therefore you have mutual dislike. There for you have similar qualities and are THUS you are alike.

So what you think you ARE, you are not; and what you are NOT is what you truly are.

 

My attempt at trying to understand the existentialist perspective on the quote in the first line.

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