May 9, 2012

Sartre & Human Impotence (Incomplete)

The decisive argument which is employed by common sense against freedom consists in reminding us of our impotence. Far from being able to modify our situation at our whim, we seem to be unable to change ourselves. I am not “free” either to escape the lot of my class, of my nation, of my family, or even to build up my own power or my fortune or to conquer my most insignificant appetites or habits. 
(Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness)

Sartre's Argument 
A) Freedom consists of being able to change one's state of existence, without coercion by any external entity and only via our rational thinking.
A1"Social Freedom" consists of being able to change our state of existence without having to confirm to the ideas of any group (family, friends, class, nation, ...)
A2) "Economic Freedom" consists of being able to acquire wealth (change state) without having to succumb to attempts at control and misappropriation by others
A3) "Personal Freedom" consists of being able to change our physical / mental desires (change state)
B) Our potentials lies in changing our states of existence, i.e. exercising our freedom and our goal should be to achieve to the best of our potentials
C) By observation - We cannot achieve freedom in either of the senses given in A1, A2 and A3, i.e. we are impotent.
F) Free Will does not exist OR the idea of Free Will is illusory

Arguments in Support
Necessitarianism / Determinism) Actions are predestined or consequences of previous actions by self and others. Hence our state of existence is bound to be affected by external causes/entities. Free Will is an illusion.
Pragmatism) Things may be deterministic or otherwise, but in any case, its too complex a calculation to decide what to do next. Hence Free Will is a meaningless proposition.
Kant) Moral judgement needed to change state; which in turn depends upon categorical imperatives which themselves are beyond the control of Man. Hence, acts appear to be out of free will, while actually being governed by divinity / society / innate moral sense.
Locke / Hume) "... man is not permitted without censure to follow his own thoughts in the search of truth ..." - Locke; No innate thoughts or ideas - every knowledge / thought has to be acquired via experience; hence change of state is not possible without being influenced by surrounding entities.

Arguments against Sartre
Liberatianism: All actions are allowed except those that inflict or encroach upon the rights of other people (He is still allowed to perform actions inflicting upon his own rights). This limitation is required to omit the problem of contradiction and anarchy among the actions of the people. Hence, the actions of the people are not bound by any other external cause. Therefore, free will is not illusory.

Internalism: No external agent can affect the action of an individual since only he has control over his thoughts and emotions.Hence, there are no restrictions over his actions. Therefore, free will is not illusory.

Individualism/personalism: The thought or opinion of an individual is supreme. Man is selfish. Hence, he will perform those actions beneficial to him. Therefore, the external opposition against his opinion do not matter. free will is not illusory.

Anarchism: Absence of Government allows all actions, even those which inflict upon the rights of others. Govt. should be absent since laws are broken and crime takes place even in the presence of a govt. Hence, there are no restrictions whatsoever, in any form. Man is absolutely free.

Accidentalism: Opposite to indeterminism. Man has no control over some events. This is beyond the capacity of a human to perform and not, rather, any limitation to the actions of a person. Hence, no restrictions bound but some events are out of control of ANY other being. However, the man still falls under the defintion of a free person.

compatibilism: Possible to achieve free-will and be deterministic at the same time without any contradiction. Man is free to follow and move on the path that is already pre-destined. Their notion of freedom is different. Acc. to their notion, there should be no restriction. Hence, free will is not illusory.