Thursday, October 27, 2011
Continuing the milieu in James Miller's Passion of Michel Foucault.
Whether “transcendence” was understood properly or not—and with an esoteric writer like Heidegger it is always hard to know—this idea was implicitly the starting point for all of the dominant French philosophers of the postwar period, from Sartre and Merleau-Ponty to Foucault and Jacques Derrida. A distinctively human capacity (though most human beings, Heidegger thought, failed to grasp its significance), “transcendence” gave to every single person the power to start over, to begin anew—to take up, reshape, and transform the world. Like modern philosophers from Kant to Sartre, Heidegger sometimes called this power “freedom”; that it was a power he had learned from Nietzsche, who spoke of the same capacity as “will to power.” Call it freedom or call it transcendence, Heidegger in his letter to Beaufret reiterated his own view that this mysterious capacity was intrinsically without rule, norm, reason, or conscious purpose; indeed, like Nietzsche, he argued that all of these had no basis other than the power of transcendence. To pretend, as Sartre did in his lecture, that something approximating Kant’s moral philosophy was logically entailed by something like Heidegger’s view of “existence” was therefore to betray a profound misunderstanding of both “Being” and “transcendence.”

But this was not the end of Heidegger’s letter to Beaufret. It also marked a crucial turning point in Heidegger’s own thought—and, as a consequence of Heidegger’s renewed influence in France, a turning point in the central philosophical preoccupations of Foucault and his generation.

In the first phase of Heidegger’s work, epitomized by Being and Time, the German thinker had primarily been interested in “the being of man” (“das Sein der Menschen,” or “Dasein” for short). In the 1930s and 1940s, it had seemed feasible to a number of French readers of Being and Time, including Hyppolite and Merleau-Ponty, to amalgamate this stress on Dasein with Hegel’s teleological philosophy of history and with Karl Marx’s famous dictum, in his “Theses on Feuerbach,” that “all the mysteries which lead theory towards mysticism find their rational solution in human practice.” Heidegger himself in Being and Time had dwelled on transcendence as “the very possibility of taking action”—an emphasis that climaxed in the book’s highly abstract and deeply enigmatic summons to Dasein to rise up resolutely in “the moment of vision,” to meet its historical fate “to choose its hero.”

Pp. 48-49
Sartre was probably wary of having Being resemble something mystical or transcendent, though JPS was not a strict marxist materialist, was he-- Freedom was unique (tho religious? nyet) The left would not have approved (whether one agrees with Trots or not--they seem to consider Heidegger a mystic and anti-rationalist mostly).

its rather unbelievable that people claim that Nietzsche was an idealist in some sense (FN denies an a priori, god, soul, morality-- all of it).
I see Sartre as a rational conclusion if one's starts from Cartesian skepticism and the notion that what's only real is the individual - infinately free to make any choice - subject, and builds from there, so that everything depends on the individual's decisions.

MH says no, freedom is only what's possible in the world you find yourself thrown into.
Sartre may have overestimated Freedom but I don't think "infinite" is quite correct--. But people are trapped in their individual consciousness; the Subject is primary, as yall say. Positing being-in the-world or Dasein or world-historical-spirit,etc does not resolve that. (or technically speaking...defeat Descartes for that matter)--at leas existentialism recognized the Individual . Re-perusing a bit of JPS (not much) one also notes his critique of "determinisms" as well--somewhat noble IMO (probably including the hegelian sort).
Agree with J. here. Sartre does posit a kind of freedom and at least in B+N he's a little inconsistent about it, but I still ultimately see him as drawing from the same (pre-Cartesian) Husserlian phenomenological basis as Heidegger does: that is, some sort of "background."

By making bad faith a fundamental ontological basis of the doubled self, Sartre is saying that any sort of "freedom" is constrained empirically (and so socially, etc. etc.). You don't get to escape facticity. The for-itself's constant *attempts* to escape are a kind of freedom, I guess, but not in any conventional sense of the term.
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