Posted at 05.10.2018
Among the many questionable and interesting says Sartre is able to pull from his phenomenological way his conclusion about the radical flexibility of consciousness is seen to be of far reaching importance. Not merely does this bank account of human flexibility impart on debates about determinism and politics but also the type of the human being condition and how we as conscious beings are able to experience our very own decisions. In this article I'd like to critically discuss Sartre's bottom line about the radical freedom of consciousness by firmly taking a voyage through how he is able to reach this final result and critically examine whether this realization and its results are properly justified by Sartre.
Sartre's principles of nothingness and of action play an integral role in his meaning of human independence. Sartre defines awareness as existing by just nihilating or separating itself from its history, which means this central nihilating feature of consciousness is its mode to be, and Sartre calls this mode of being 'Independence' (B&N 52). Hence why Sartre proclaims that consciousness is condemned to be free, as awareness can only exist if it is free and this is exactly what leads Sartre to the final outcome that all actions must consequently be free activities. Furthermore his notorious illustrations demonstrate the scope to which Sartre does indeed wish to claim that all human actions are taken freely, the soldier fleeing in anxiety, the tired mountain-hiker giving up or the prisoner betraying his comrades under torture are actions which the agent commits to widely. The main and significant facet of Sartre's argument that actions are free is the fact that freedom simply is the setting to be of consciousness. If we are mindful then we have been necessarily free and for that reason there is absolutely no way to split up our idea of freedom from simple fact for there can't be any difference between the being of man and his being free (B&N: 25). So Sartre must avoid defining liberty as any faculty of the human being and or even while it being an essential property of an human.
Sartre instead helps us to comprehend our own liberty through the negativity of the for-itself, this nihilation allows Sartre to bring Liberty in to the world through nothingness. A mindful being is segregated from its recent by this nothingness, this negation of the past is actually Sartre's definition of freedom. By Phenomenological means Sartre is convinced we are actually aware of this space between being and our past as consciousness constantly experience itself as nihilation of its earlier being. As flexibility is the being of consciousness consciousness ought to exist as awareness of flexibility, Sartre thinks this takes the form of experiencing ourselves as being both our recent and future so that not being them. Knowing of this fact causes us to experience anguish and it is in these feelings of anguish that man gets his awareness of independence.
Sartre uses this sentiment of anguish before my own liberty as further proof of the radical liberty of awareness. As he says the man suffering from vertigo is not so much afraid of slipping but of his anonymous future, understanding that he cannot be determined he imagines the possibilities of his liberty playing out in his mind which is the aguish brought on by the thought that he's free to chuck himself on the ledge that triggers anguish, it is mans knowledge that he's free to choose his activities and that his liberty can be limited by nothing other than itself (B&N 39-32). Furthermore it's the radical freedom of consciousness that triggers this anguish as i apprehend myself knowing that I am not the personal that i will be, I am segregated from it by Nothingness and therefore I am free.
Sartre's meaning of action is one of the main element features that allow him to put all these samples no subject how questionable within the same classification of freedom. Action is defined by Sartre as having 3 features and in understanding these we can gain an improved appreciation of how Sartre understands freedom and exactly how this description can be reconciled with potential conflicts in relation to personal human being characteristics or with determinism.
All actions essentially have a motif, which can be translated as reason, but these reasons only come to light in virtue of your project or complete end (fin) an agent has. All ends have a nested structure with each end resulting in another so to be able to totally and completely understand an action we have to look beyond the obvious ends implied by the work until we find that end which does not imply another end but refers only to itself - this last end is a person's fundamental project which is manifested straight or indirectly by all our specific ends. The 3rd essential feature is an activities mobile or decision this is actually the deciding second when a realtor chooses to do something upon the reason in light of their own ends. As all consciousness entails nothingness and reference to what is presently not the case what is now the case must be lacking in something that the end would make complete to be conscious of a finish, therefore, is to desire it (McInerney, 1979 p. 665).
As the procedure discussed above is part of non-thetic consciousness we are only alert to it pre-reflectively and so all activities including those done non-deliberately have this same structure. So regarding the exemplory case of the soldier fleeing in stress his feeling (fear) is a consciousness of preserving his own life and keeping away from enemy attacks becomes his reason and in light of this his end, which was revealed to him through his dread, his decision to hightail it is his effective purpose. As we can see the soldiers situation has so this means for him only through his project (B&N 574). The question that I am going to focus after for the rest of this essay is if there is genuine reason for Sartre to declare that activities such as these which are often not deliberate or rationally considered but instead done from emotion are free choices that we make.
There is a fourth feature of independence which is vital to it's the undetermined or unforeseeable dynamics of our assignments. We cannot be familiar with our future projects from our own point of view as only reflectively we realize that no matter how stable out commitment to an end or project has been in the past it is always possible that it could change because of the fact that this end is chosen by consciousness and our awareness is automatically free. Whilst we would think that desiring the methods to a finish is derivable from desiring that end even as we are free to change our jobs having a finish will not secure or imply an agent will continue steadily to pursue that end, for everything that people neglect and work towards may change tomorrow in the light of something happening that overthrows our current commitments. If we take Sartre's theory of independence to be absolutely denying that our actions and significantly our fundamental jobs can't be given a complete and deterministic causal description then we need to explain how exactly we come to ever before change our fundamental projects or even find the ends that people have.
Despite having these fundamental assignments which we invest in and continually work at we are not constrained by them, the radical flexibility of consciousness permits us to change these ends at any time and so change our activities and reactions to situations. However the level to which we actually experience ourselves as choosing our fundamental jobs is scarce. Even Sartre discusses our change of end as a 'sudden metamorphosis' (B&N 497) and they are occasions that are usually taken as happening if you ask me rather than of my choosing. Sartre is committed to this declare that we must choose our important jobs if his conception of independence is to stay as all our actions which are believed free necessarily target at our important projects. However in a world where our company is absolve to change our ends just how do we even have a concept into the future, our fundamental jobs do naturally endure through time and whilst Sartre does not explicitly speak of two particular types of projection of ends unlike our important projects our regular ends and actions are not long term or enduring (B&N 440) Sartre will appear to presuppose discussion of our important projects as not coming to stake at every moment and we aren't constantly in circumstances of recreating it, this is actually the only way we can have any justifiable understand of what the future will be like(McInerney p668).
For Sartre, as our motives manifest our freely chosen jobs those motives themselves must already be widely chosen however this structure seems vunerable to David Hume criticism of the liberty of indifference, that the indeterministic character of our fundamental projects is 'the exact same thing with chance' (Treatise, booklet 2 part 3 1). If this holds true we would have no control over the choice of our tasks, but this is really not the way we experience our goals, ambitions or jobs in life. Whilst Hume's original criticism may usually focus upon the causal connection between motives and activities and Sartre's radical independence does not require unmotivated actions, Hume's objection instead may be used to target Sartre's idea that the motives for an action do not necessitate that action (B&N 492) and in this manner we can be said to 'choose' our tasks.
Perhaps if we needed all an realtors projects as a totality whose effective synthesis sums to their important project (B&N 469) collectively they would determine the way in which any given project is pursued however the central problem lies in the actual fact that my first projects must have been chosen without motivations (so that it is a subject of chance whether I pursue these assignments) but also that it is down to chance at any given moment whether my motives are acted upon or discontinued. It now seems incoherent to talk of us choosing our assignments if the dedication of projects is entirely unmotivated and Sartre agrees an action must be motivated but this is impossible in choosing your earliest projects (Follesdal 1981, 'Sartre on Independence', p. 402)
// The very structure of assignments will involve nothingness or one thing which doesn't have being (B&N 435) and since informal determination is only a way where being can be influenced by each other the presence of nothingness in our assignments shows they can't be casually determined (B&N 46-9).
In opposing common philosophical views such as determinism Sartre keeps that by the very aspect of the liberty of consciousness as far as it is concerned nothing outside of my consciousness is with the capacity of identifying me. This also contains my genetic backdrop or brain procedures which i am unacquainted with, matching to Sartre I can only be determined by things that appear to my consciousness, there is absolutely no way I could feel determined by these unknown causes as if I was then they would register in my consciousness.
This would mean our company is free in all situations even those where we are physically unable to will or commit to actions that people choose, the prisoner for example cannot get away from even if he wills it but he's free to choose how to consciously respond to the problem and he is free to choose his fundamental project; if he widely makes it his fundamental task to flee his freedom may be limited, but only by itself with regards to this freely chosen end (B&N 487). Your position, or facticity, rather than limit is instead a problem of your freedom, for us to have the ability to act at the facticity of the situation and of the entire world must create some resistance, only then does an agent see the world as intimidating or favourable and consequently motivating. This resistance then provides something to transcend and without it we'd struggle to act readily, as Sartre says: "there exists freedom only in a situation, and there's a situation only through liberty" (B&N 489).
Whilst Sartre's bill of our very own flexibility from a phenomenological and first person point of view may appear true this consideration of freedom seems to be in tension with determinism. As Sartre's idea of independence is so radical at first glance it often seems that Sartre is denying determinism but this isn't necessarily true. There could be a 3rd way where we are able to read Sartre's account of freedom as a kind of compatibilism. Whilst we've seen that from one third person point of view, or will all the relevant causal information we may be completely predictable this is not a perspective we can choose when we action pre-reflectively. Instead our company is behaving in response to reasons and ends, only reflectively would it not ever before be possible to see ourselves as completely identified irrespective of our ends.
I would support a better interpretation of Sartre and believe that an almost non-comapatibilist account is justifiable. Sartre's claim that so long as I am a realtor and a 'home' determinism is in all practicality an illusion if you ask me it is because to think about myself as causally driven is an incoherent description of myself as it makes me to consider myself as something other than a 'personal'. Looking to somehow experience myself as decided denies what it is usually to be a mindful being, namely to be free, instead determinism considers us as organisms, rather than as selves. If the mode of being of awareness simply is freedom and a deterministic approach to ourselves is incoherent it contributes to the only bottom line that Sartre's radical freedom of awareness is justifiable even when confronted with a physicalist-determinist worldview.
In speaking about Sartre's consideration of the radical flexibility of consciousness we've seen how he is able to bind the for-itself of being so closely with freedom that it remains impossible for you to exist without the other and this is properly justified through his concept of Nothingness. Furthermore we have seen how this conception of flexibility is able to be defended against common conceptions of traditional independence; such as to be free is usually to be able to do or achieve what one desires and also to be free is usually to be able to respond diversely from how one selects function, even if everything leading up to the action remains unchanged.
In the first case Sartre effectively rejects this conception of flexibility in the case of the prisoner who's unable to escape. The prisoner continues to be radically free as his inability to flee only impinges on his flexibility if his fundamental project is in a way that he desires to escape. Our awareness remains wholly absolve to change how exactly we react to these situations and paradoxically we live absolve to limit our independence. With respect to determinism both readings of Sartre including his incompatibilist consideration allow his account of flexibility to survive. In conjunction with this his research of anguish and of bad trust provides a convincing bank account of the radical liberty of consciousness even as experience it in everyday activity. With the exception of our fundamental tasks which are relatively vague and frequently unknowable to us this does add some anxiety in to his theory yet I believe his accounts survives as a convincing consideration of the flexibility of consciousness.