Tag Archives: Freedom

Freedom and death


I made the mistake of starting to read a novel on the train on the way home, so of course when I got home I didn’t do any sewing I spent the evening reading. Then I thought about going to bed but couldn’t sleep so here I am, sitting at my computer pondering Sartre, when I really should be getting some sleep so I am nice and perky for work tomorrow.

So freedom and death. Where does that come in. Well if according to Sartre freedom is choosing then death becomes a problem, because we can’t choose the manner and timing of our death. I am sure Sartre will come up with some way out of it, but it did get me thinking about whether we do or don’t choose our own deaths. I’m not talking about suicide, which I don’t recommend, but other types of dying. Okay you can’t choose the exact minute but you can set yourself on the path. When I choose to eat too much junk, knowing as I do that I have a family history of heart disease, stroke and diabetes in a way I choose my future heart attack. When I drive way too fast I choose my death by car accident. Sure I could get hit by a car on my way to work tomorrow but probably only if I choose not to look where I am going. I am prepared to concede that there is the occasional freak accident entirely beyond your control, like a satellite falling on your head, but it is our choices that put us in that place, at that time, in those set of circumstances. I don’t know if that is the kind of choosing that counts. Most of us wouldn’t consciously choose our deaths if we thought that was what we were doing, but then most of us don’t consciously choose our lives either. I’m starting to think that is where Sartre’s freedom falls down. Existentialism is  supposed to be about the evidence of the experience, and I am not sure that the experience of freedom gels with Sartre’s theory of it. I don’t know in the end whether that really matters.

Anyway, enough long-winded ramblings. Now I am going to have to go and try to get some sleep. 

Still on freedom


Still reading about freedom. As usual I am not 100% sure I am understanding all his arguments, but I think the general gist is we are still free even though we might think we are constrained by others. Sartre’s general concept of freedom seems to be that we are free to create meaning in the world. The problem arises when we come across meaning in the world that has been created by others for example culture and language. The bit I am reading is discussing ways around that, but I guess he is probably going to say that we are still free in spite of these limitations on us. The good news is that I now only have 100 pages to go, so not doing too badly on the reading front.

My blocks aren’t going anywhere near as well. I only got 4 done yesterday, and that’s pretty average for a Saturday. I did get loads of cutting out done though, so I suppose that’s a bonus.

More freedom


Am plodding along. Trying to be patient, and slowly getting through blocks and the topic of freedom. At the moment Sartre is going through all the potential obstacles to freedom and attempting to explain why we are still free in the face of them. So far we have looked at the world, and now am on the topic of others. Not so much others physically restraining us from being free but other constraining us by imposing meaning on the world before we get to it. For me this is the doozy. Can we escape our upbringing, our culture? We are free because we choose ourselves, but what if the self we choose is the self that our upbringing tells us to be?

freedom to choose


Something to thing about – according to Sartre we are free to choose, but we are not guaranteed success. It’s quite depressing actually, and I don’t think it quite covers all possibilities. That is I could choose to move my arm but if you have tied me up it won’t work. Common sense says I’m not free, but according to Sartre so long as I can keep trying to move, even if there is no possibility of succeeding, I am.

Other than that am feeling kind of lethargic, but am so close to Christmas I am trying not to give into it and slow down.

Contradictions… maybe


After a week of fogginess the brain is starting to kick into gear, well at least just a little. I still have the attention span of a gnat, but I can work with that. Who needs to read more than two lines at a time anyway.

The thing that is bothering me at the moment is a possible contradiction between Sartre’s stuff about freedom and something he said earlier about resolutions. Essentially what he said earlier was that if you make a resolution you have to remake it in every instant. However he is saying about freedom that we make a choice and the choice becomes part of the flow of our being. I suppose it need not be contradictory. We could need to remake the resolution over and over if it doesn’t mesh with the self we are choosing. So we have to choose to be on a diet over and over again, because the self we have chosen is the self who eats compulsively. I am still waiting for some clear direction on how exactly one goes about choosing a new self.

forgetting stuff


Remember a while back I was complaining about Sartre going on about temporality and it not making a lot of sense. Well of course not seeing the relevance of it my brain confined it to the okay to forget pile. Now of course it is needed. Apparently it all ties in to freedom. You choose yourself and the choice plays out in your life in a kind of flow. There are no instants, no moments, just flow of time, and your freedom is bound up in the flow. To get a moment where you choose to change direction you have to make the moment, and in a kind of circular fashion you make the moment when you choose. Of course it all rests on the previous arguments about time, which I wish I could remember, because if I didn’t agree with them then none of the present stuff stands.

Of course in 20 years time the idea about time will probably pop out of my head at some random moment when I need it least in some vague fashion along the lines of “I  remember reading some thing some where once…”

In sewing news… I have decided I just have to stop thinking about it too much. If I think too much about targets or deadlines or how much I have left to do it all gets a little too overwhelming where if I just keep plugging away at it, doing what I can do right now then I actually get more done. At the very least I enjoy myself more.

Is it freedom


According to Sartre, while we are free to be who we are, most of what we do stems from that choice. We make a choice that we are a quilter, or that we are affected by our upbringing and through our actions we keep reinforcing that choice. We make quilts or we keep doing the same behaviours over and over again. We can choose to do otherwise but only by choosing to be someone else. In order to do something different we have to radically overhaul our being. Is that freedom? I don’t know. I suppose it treads a line between freedom and determinism and seems to manage the balance well. I don’t know that it matches up with the experience of choice. If I choose to do something different, it is me who chooses, me who struggles and me who feels proud. There is an I who feels proud of the change.

Spam, freedom and positivity


What’s with all the spam comments? I don’t know why people even bother. They just get blocked by the spam blocker and then deleted by me. Though it does have the effect of adding to my general levels of annoyance.

On a slightly more positive note, I am feeling a great deal more positive about my goals. I have less than two hundred pages left to go and only 230 more blocks to make. While I only have 61 days left to my deadline, it is still only 4 pages and 4 blocks a day. 4 pages of the book I can do no problem, can’t guarantee that I will remember or understand what I have read but I can knock it over on the train on the way to work. 4 blocks a day is slightly more challenging, but still very workable especially if I do extra on the weekend. So overall I am thinking I have not done too badly, and even if I don’t make it on time I have still done more blocks than I would have done if I hadn’t set myself this challenge.

I am trying really hard at the moment to understand the topic of freedom, as presented by Sartre. He seems to think that we have to be free either all the time or not at all, which is fairly straight forward but its the reasoning behind it that is tricky. Not to mention the very challenging implications for our own lives, because if we are free all the time we are free even when we think we are not. So often we make excuses, it was my upbringing, or circumstances out of my control etc. but according to Sartre we choose what we value, and in choosing what we value we dictate our behaviour (and are therefore free) even when we aren’t consciously aware of choosing an act. So no more excuses.

Its kind of interesting because it ties into something I was reading in a magazine by a psychologist, about happiness. His first step on the road to happiness was to define your values. I’ve never thought about it in real depth before but if I was pushed on the matter I think I would have said that people’s values come from the society or family they are raised in. The idea you have a choice about them is actually quite radical. 

Are we free to be not free?


Are we free to be not free? Sartre thinks not. He thinks that freedom is inherent to existence. I’m not sure that I know what to think about that one. Surely you should be able to choose not to be free? However, if all our decisions have to be made over and over again in every instant, as Sartre suggests they do, then we have to be perpetually choosing our non-freedom and are therefore at every moment free to choose. It’s kind of like compulsory voting I guess. You can choose to make donkey votes if you want, but you still have to choose that every time.



Have finished the chapter on bad faith, though how much actually sank in while I was on the train this morning I don’t know. I suspect very little. The chapter finished up with Sartre arguing that sincerity was merely another kind of bad faith. Which I suppose it is if you define sincerity very narrowly, as Sartre seems too, as trying to be yourself. The problem for Sartre is that by trying to be yourself you actually define a self to be, which impinges on the absolute freedom which you have. So, in trying to be myself, I might try to be a quilter but I ignore the possibility of the fact that I have the equal possibility of not being a quilter. Or at least I think that is what he was saying. However, I’d like to think true sincerity is possible without bad faith. If what we are is free and undetermined, if we are being free and undetermined, then surely we are being sincere? I could be wrong, maybe we also have to be open to the possibility that we are not free and determined.

I have plenty of blocks to show off. I have some DVD’s from the library so I spent yesterday evening wrapped in a quilt, sewing and watching DVD’s and trying terribly hard not to have a cold (yes another one, seems like I just can’t get away from the germs this year).