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A question about Sartre

 
 
Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2011 10:26 am
In his essay, "Existentialism is a Humanism," Sartre produces this quote:

"Existentialism is not atheist in the sense that it would exhaust itself in demonstrations of the non-existence of God. It declares, rather, that even if God existed that would make no difference from its point of view. Not that we believe God does exist, but we think that the real problem is not that of His existence; what man needs is to find himself again and to understand that nothing can save him from himself, not even a valid proof of the existence of God."

It took me a long time to grasp what I believe he meant in declaring that even if God did exist, that it wouldn't change anything. For a long time I thought that the existence of God was the major question that had to be answered in order to determine how life "should" be lived. For Sartre declares that there can be no morality, due to our ultimate freedom. No action has any inate value over any other action, there can be no right or wrong if God does not exist, because without a perfect creator there can be no set of guidelines that make things "good" or "bad." Every action becomes simply a consequence of that freedom, and even the actions themselves cease to have meaning, but the only power is the choice itself.

Now, I believed that Sartre could only be correct in his claim if God did not exist, because if God did exist in any reasonable way then there would have to be a perfect set of right and wrong bny which we are governed.

I question I asked myself recently was this: would I be any happier if I were "God?" The answer I came to was surprising... God, like us, has the ultimate freedom to choose. Of course I am not naive enough to claim our freedom's equivalent, but just stay with me. God has the power to create meaning. But the question is what gives meaning to his creation? The only answer is simply that his creation only has meaning because he created it, it is in the choice, the manifestation, that his creation becomes meaningful and powerful. But WHAT he creates doesn't matter, it is simply that he creates. Next I started thinking that we, as man have that same freedom (I understand we are governed by physics), a freedom that is ultimate and powerful, we have the same ability to create meaning. But the problem is that there is no innate meaning in existence, life, in fact, has no purpose "in itself" even if God created us, because his creation is abitrary and is based upon his choice. There are no absolutes even when dealing with a divine creator. This caused me to understand that even if God does exist, and that he created certain morals that are meant to govern our lives, it still wouldnt matter. His morals are baased upon nothing more than his choice to call them "moral." He could have just as easily made love the greatest evil and murder the greatest good, because his choiced are not based upon reason, they are simply based upon a lonely and selfish existence, God (if he exists) had a need to experience connection, because the only God worthy of being called God is one who is "perfect." The other alternative is that God exists and does not Care for humanity, but that leaves us once again with an arbitrary existence that maintains our absolute freedom.

So now, I can honestly say that even being God would not bring about any more happiness than can be attatined by myself in this world. The greatest part is that even God has no reason to be happy.

Freedom is king.

Sorry for the long post, but I do not have many people to philosophise with, and this was a revelation to me recently and I wanted to get it out and see what others think. I am welcome, even hoping, that some on here can destroy my logic in order to allow me to go deeper into the subject, my question is, what do you all think about the Sartre quote I pointed out?
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Fido
 
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Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2011 10:47 am
@jos09014,
Humanism was once a reform movement in the Catholic Church, a chance for people to see Jesus as a human God concerned about humanity... All that was squashed by the success of the Protestants whose God was even less human and more distant than the God of the Catholic Church... The effect was to drive Catholicism into a deeper reaction to reality and the needs of human being... Their concern, ultimately was for their own authority and wealth...
jos09014
 
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Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2011 10:58 am
@Fido,
But I am not speaking about Humanism, I am speaking about the quote I presented concerning existential and theological properties.
InfraBlue
 
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Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2011 11:23 am
@jos09014,
Good post, jos.

Humanity abides by its own morality derived from nature much like any other species of animals. The difference being is that we can reflect upon it. A god is unnecessary in that regard.
jos09014
 
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Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2011 12:08 pm
@InfraBlue,
So you think that nature can hand down a series of morals to humanity?
Morality requires the ability of a decision to be better than any other decision.
I'm not sure that a moraility derived by natured could be called a morality at all. What we have is merely a biological desire to continue living, without any real reason for that life.

What do you think?
InfraBlue
 
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Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2011 04:00 pm
@jos09014,
The idea of better decisions is subjective though, and is ill defined which has necessarily lead to contradictions within all of the formally stated moral rules or systems. One complicating aspect of morality is the dynamic between doing what's good for the self and doing what's good for the group, and the conundrums that arise in defining what are better decisions thereof.

Yes, generally there is a biological desire for the individual to continue living, but that is tempered, also in general, by the desire by that selfsame individual to continue the life of others in its group that leads to selfless behavior, and this is exhibited in both humans and other animals.

It seems you're conflating morality with the idea of "real reasons for life."

Can you clarify that position?
jos09014
 
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Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2011 04:11 pm
@InfraBlue,
My point is that of course morality is subjective, but when speaking outside of that subjectivity (making the self an object of consciousness) there is no moral order of the universe.

There is only the illusion of morality, the illusion that one choice is "better" for ones self than any other choice. There is only the choice itself, that is the only thing that has any power.

We create morality and internal value systems based upon nothing more than what we think is "right," when in reality there is no "right" on which to base our morals in the first place.
fobvius
 
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Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2011 07:52 pm
@jos09014,
In it's depth of discernment and clarity of comprehension the quote reminds me of me, a bit fobvius.
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JLNobody
 
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Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2011 08:19 pm
@jos09014,
I see morality as both subjective and cultural. In that sense morality is inter-subjective, both an aspect of the individual's unique consciousness and shared to a large extent with other members of his society.
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JLNobody
 
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Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2011 08:19 pm
@jos09014,
I see morality as both subjective and cultural. In that sense morality is inter-subjective, both an aspect of the individual's unique consciousness and shared to a large extent with other members of his society.
Fido
 
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Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2011 05:48 am
@jos09014,
jos09014 wrote:

But I am not speaking about Humanism, I am speaking about the quote I presented concerning existential and theological properties.
Just pointing out that he got the whole idea of humanism wrong from the git... It was originally a church reform movement that got pushed out of the church in reaction to the reformation...
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2011 06:01 am
@jos09014,
jos09014 wrote:

So you think that nature can hand down a series of morals to humanity?
Morality requires the ability of a decision to be better than any other decision.
I'm not sure that a moraility derived by natured could be called a morality at all. What we have is merely a biological desire to continue living, without any real reason for that life.

What do you think?
Yes... Morality is Natural in the most correct sense of the word... We all learn morals through our mothers, our natal (navel) connection to society... It is the expansion of natural morals to larger social groups including humanity that makes social morals a reality... Nations are not places, as we in America are inclined to think and speak...Nations are people, all related naturally through a common mother, an alma mater, a soul mother... To make a nation out of many different peoples is something that is presumed in this country and is far from proved... From the start our differences were played upon and exploited... No true nation would allow the sort of behavior we see every day in this country which makes one rich and powerful while leaving another poor and powerless... Division are fatal, and any morality that allows the division of a nation is flawed a badly flawed...Primitives were much more intelligent than we are in the organization of society... Their social technology was their best technology... They could not control their environments to any degree comparable to us... Rather, they practiced social self control, morality... Morality is community... Morality is nation... We cannot possibly have one without the other...
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2011 06:10 am
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:

I see morality as both subjective and cultural. In that sense morality is inter-subjective, both an aspect of the individual's unique consciousness and shared to a large extent with other members of his society.
There is nothing subjective about morality... People are never in an objective position from which to judge their morals subjectively... Not even the most immoral of people can escape the moral outlook he is raised with...

Try to understand the situation from a parent's point of view, understanding the parent was once a child... To live in a family and to be a full member, a child must have a sense of fair play... It is then a most difficult and painful process to teach a child that there is nothing fair about the world, about ones country, and that it is the most foolish thing to expect fairness from ones country, employers, neighbors, etc... Yet; however successful, you cannot remove from the child the sense of fairness and fair play even when they can become the most unfair people in the course of their lives... They have the moral perspective from which to judge themselves even when they ignore it....
jos09014
 
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Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2011 06:44 am
@Fido,
But Fido, what I think you are not understanding is that there can be no morality. That is my, and Sartre's point. Whether or not there is a creator, it is simply illogical to think that any sense of morals can exist in a real sense.

We create them because they allow society to function, because they fit our needs, but there is no basis at all for right and wrong, because in reality there are no good actions, and there are no evil actions. In order for there to be good and evil, there has to be one to declare what is good and what is evil. No action is innately good or bad, and it would be ignorant to believe such.

Morality is merely an illusion, morality is a societal lie in this case, passed down by generations because society would fail to exist without the illusion of morals.

And what you said about Sartre missing the point about Humanism is just wrong. In his essay he argues that Existentialism is "a" humanism. It matters not the derivative of this social movement, but rather he explains Existentialisms connection to humanism as an uplifting call to action and responsibility.
jos09014
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2011 06:45 am
@Fido,
Then what do you consider natural morals, and where do they come from?
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2011 08:16 am
@jos09014,
jos09014 wrote:

Then what do you consider natural morals, and where do they come from?
Morals generally are all the moral forms which defy definition, the virtues, justice, honor, truth, courage, etc... All of these have in common the fact that they are learned well before a person can think rationally, at their mother's knee, often in relation to the mother, herself... People try to reason out their morals, to systematize them, and they always fail... They build social forms out of their moral forms, like government, or Law; and always fail... The reason is simple: People behave morally in regard to one another based upon their emotional connectedness with that person, and not for reason.... Reason is used always to subvert, or to get around the impediment of morals...

You may ask whether I think one can better get a grasp on morals by thinking about them; and I would say yes... But no one has ever been made moral by thought, by reason, or by knowledge, where many of the most immoral of people have been made worse by knowledge and thought...To have a moral society one need only reward and expand upon the natural morality people learn in early life, and now, we do entirely the opposite....
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2011 08:23 am
@jos09014,
jos09014 wrote:

But Fido, what I think you are not understanding is that there can be no morality. That is my, and Sartre's point. Whether or not there is a creator, it is simply illogical to think that any sense of morals can exist in a real sense.

We create them because they allow society to function, because they fit our needs, but there is no basis at all for right and wrong, because in reality there are no good actions, and there are no evil actions. In order for there to be good and evil, there has to be one to declare what is good and what is evil. No action is innately good or bad, and it would be ignorant to believe such.

Morality is merely an illusion, morality is a societal lie in this case, passed down by generations because society would fail to exist without the illusion of morals.

And what you said about Sartre missing the point about Humanism is just wrong. In his essay he argues that Existentialism is "a" humanism. It matters not the derivative of this social movement, but rather he explains Existentialisms connection to humanism as an uplifting call to action and responsibility.
No, or am I saying yes to Sartre... Moral forms are not real... Physical forms represent some reality... Moral forms only represent some spiritual quality and for that reson they defy definition... And if you cannot define a moral quality how can you give it the force of law??? But dimmwits do it based upon a lot of faulty philosophy... If the best we can do is a general definition of a moral behavior based upon the recognition of past moral behavior then all our laws should be general as well... We need to consider what behavior we will reward, and so encourage rather than what behavior we will punish... Ideologically we punish a lot of moral behavior, and reward a lot of immorality... We are asking for destruction...
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2011 09:17 am
@Fido,
All is subjective and that's an objective fact (Searle). What number was THAT commandment, "Thou shalt not be unfair"?
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2011 09:17 am
@Fido,
All is subjective and that's an objective fact (Searle). What number was THAT commandment, "Thou shalt not be unfair"?
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2011 09:17 am
@Fido,
All is subjective and that's an objective fact (Searle). What number was THAT commandment, "Thou shalt not be unfair"?
0 Replies
 
 

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