Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

 


SARTRE THE EXISTENTIALIST
 
Sartre is the best existential thinker. His thought was very deep and somehow assuring.
 
Descartes held that self is in essence self-consciousness. Sartre denied that there can be no object in consciousness and hence no self identical to it. In other words it is just there like eyesight and thus you cannot call it a person.
 
Sarte noted that self is ‘ out there’. You make it outward looking so that things around you seem to be a part of you. You look at them that way. In other words you externalise your self or sense of self. But your self is not what money you have or where you work or any other material thing. That is what Sarte means by saying that the self has no material being in itself but being for itself only.

Sartre insists that our consciousness is not a materially determined thing and is not part of the causal order. Does damage to the nervous system damage consciousness? Sartre says it doesn’t because the nervous system is not being for itself and anyway how can matter have ideas? Matter is a thing not a person or anything like a person.

Sartre says we have a god shaped hole for we want to be god. In a sense, if you let your desires tell you what God should be and what he is then that is indeed you making yourself a God and the creator of the creator. That is your intention. I would say that as each person seems to know better than God what God wants the worship of God is really an idol. Idolatry is just a way of man trying to control what is thought of God and what God should do.

I can't be more than myself so freedom is the lack of power to do this. Sartre arrives at the paradoxical definition: freedom is really synonymous with lack. Sartre's idea of freedom seems odd. Our instinct is to think of freedom as unrestricted liberty of action. But he says the way your consciousness is not a thing and its being not a thing is the reason you are free. Being a thing would limit it too much. The more something is a mere thing the less freedom it has. A rock cannot go for a walk. He is consistent in identifying the nothingness of one's consciousness with freedom. Your consciousness being a kind of nothing is free to penetrate reality which is a thing. What do we do with this insight? Sartre wants us to lose not our minds but to be open to stopping them from holding us back. Get out of your head so you can be other than what you are.
 
For Freud, the emotion you have indicates what is lurking in the unconscious mind. But emotion and the conscious mind are totally separate. Sartre rejects this as nonsense. He said that if you choose to repress some feeling or thought, you have to know what is in the unconscious in order to do that. So it is not really unconscious after all. For Sarte, self-deception does not really exist. Self-evasion and self-distraction are behaviours that are described as self-deception when in fact they are not. Every emotion has an object so emotions are intentional ways of perceiving and understanding what happens around you and in you. Emotion is directed towards something. To love is not just to love. It is to love someone. Fear is always fear of something. Emotion is a way of dealing with a scary existence in a scary world. By hating an enemy you think you magically change the situation so that it is no longer as dangerous and that you can handle it. Emotion is that which makes you feel you can magically weaken or destroy the danger and thus you feel safe. Emotions are about serving this function.

Sartre advocates a form of virtue ethics wherein morality is not about rules and laws and abstract principles but about living in a way that lets your human potential flourish. Virtue is getting on with people and not about how you adhere to principles such as kindness or compassion.

Sartre is helpful for those who wish to cultivate gratitude. This is his understanding. Nothing is really your own which is why gratitude is possible. So you must not relate to any person or thing in a possessive way. These teachings show you must let others be themselves and accept these differences as something to be gratefully celebrated. You must also let you be free to be yourself instead of trying to possess yourself.
 
I would point out that if God owns all things then he can make whatever you have belong to you. Thus true gratitude and the strongest gratitude can only arise in so far as you ignore God.
 
He says that Christians are arguing that if you sin and are unrepentant and get damned in Hell forever then you force God to damn you so God's power is limited. God wants to save you and you won't let him. The point here is that God is limited by being unable to do anything about it. Who knows what other limits God has and if there is any point in wanting his salvation. The God thing does not automatically fix the problem of the meaning of existence.

Too many confuse ultimate goal with eternal goal. Looking for meaning in the here and and now could be the ultimate goal. A goal that is ours by accident or luck is no less a goal. The most important goals depend on accidents and the power of chance.