Tag Archives: Philosophy



For some reason at the moment, TV seems to be doing a lot of re-runs of movies which should probably have never been shown in the first place. About a week or so ago I found myself watching “The Last Starfighter”. Which was fine except for the plot, the special effects and the acting.

It did get me thinking though, about the idea of heroes. The whole idea of the movie is that a select few are destined to be, or good enough to be, starfighters and we have to rely on them to save us from an evil alien overlord. Being possessed with absolutely no physical prowess or hand eye coordination myself I can sympathise with the idea, but from a philosophical point of view it’s particularly abhorrent.

While the fact that each of us is better at somethings than others, from a social contract point of view we all have a responsibility for the upkeep of our society, for the protection and care of our planet. We should be able to save ourselves and we have an obligation to try regardless of our level of talent. I’m not saying that people should never be able to ask for help, obviously they should. There are some tasks, some things which are too big for people to overcome on their own. I think one of the reasons society formed was the ability of the group to achieve more than the individual. That doesn’t mean we should rely on heroes, that we should wait to be saved without taking any action to save ourselves. Yet still we perpetuate the myth that it is the role of someone great to come and save us (a starfighter, the Avengers, Superman etc.).

Perhaps I am reading things wrong and these stories are supposed to inspire us to act, to be the hero, rather than render us helpless. I don’t know.

Either way…in the event of an alien invasion I expect you all to be out there having a go.

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.



I had the Climate Smart Service come round this morning. So now I am sitting here with my little power monitor which tells me the time, and the temperature, and how many kilowatts of power I am using, and how much it is costing me. Given that it was on 1c per hour when I wasn’t doing anything (except having the fridge on) and it is now on 4c per hour (running the computer, a light and the fan) this blog is being produced for only 3c per hour. Which isn’t too bad really, when you think about it. Probably best not to think about it though. As soon as I did I went into work budget mode and started thinking about costs of labour and depreciation of assets.

Still plowing my way through concrete relations for others. Am now on the topic of hate. As per usual Sartre has redefined it, to mean wanting to end the others existence. He also says that hate for one person is pretty much hate for everyone. So far I am not convinced. I think hate is a spectrum ranging from mild to extreme. You can hate someone and not want them dead. I also think you can hate things. Mostly I think hate is about the person hating and not about the person being hated. Though this last one may fit with Sartre’s theory.

Grace, Sadism and the Obscene


It’s a rainy, gloomy day today. But I am staring to feel that I am getting into the swing of things. Cutting back on the amount of sugar I’ve been eating over the last couple of days really seems to make a difference to the amount of energy I’ve had and the quality of sleep I seem to get.

I managed to read a little bit this morning and I have to say that it is getting a little weird, and I am having difficulty untangling the argument. I think what Sartre is saying is that there is a way of being that is graceful, where you reveal yourself as a free other without revealing yourself as body, and there is a way of being that is obscene. Not obscene in the rude sense, but when you are all body and no freedom, when your body is there as an inert object, you are obscene.

Now sadism is trying to turn someone from graceful to obscene, to take their freedom from them and make them an object.

A bit of background – according to Sartre when we relate to the other in love, we establish ourselves as self through physical contact with the others body. Their body and freedom allows us to know our body and freedom. The relationship is reciprocal, while we know ourselves through them, because we are touching them they can know themselves through us.

According to Sartre, sadism is different because when we are sadistic we try to know ourselves through the other by touching them with objects. We are removing the reciprocity. Hence we make them merely tools for our use.

The main problem with this is that it is a very narrow definition of the term sadism, which can also be used more generally to mean cruelty or getting pleasure from causing pain. Can you be sadistic with your hands? I’m inclined to think you can be. And if so Sartre’s argument falls apart.

On a cheerier note I did manage to finish a block yesterday, and I have been doing loads of cutting out. I am trying to get a whole load cut out so I can have a mammoth sewing session on the weekend.

428 No name 4 patch

24 September 2011 – Saturday


I am starting to feel like a student with a big assignment. One you know you should really get started on because the deadline is getting ever closer, but you just can’t seem to find the motivation. The weird thing is I was never like that when I was younger, I was always the student with the project plan and millions and millions of lists.  

Not that I am not doing stuff – I am. I have been steadily reading the book. Now Sartre is discussing relationships with others, which I am finding a bit dreary. The idea of love being just the attempt to found our own being is a bit depressing. I’d like to think that you can actually know another person and like them for who they are.

Blocks are also being sewn at a very slow and steady pace. I am almost up to 600. Lots to show off today, because I haven’t posted in so long. The most time-consuming thing at the moment seems to be the redrafting of blocks to make them into 4 or 8 inch blocks. In the interests of speed I might just have to start cutting them at the size they are in the book. I would end up using so much more fabric and end up with loads of different sized blocks, but I suppose I could just make loads of sampler quilts when I am done.

Vegetables are a lot of work


I had such a plan for this evening, I would whip up a minestrone soup with all my left over vegetable and then get on with my evening. I keep forgetting how much work fresh vegetables are. What with the peeling, and chopping and such. I was so busy chopping I missed the show I wanted to watch on TV. At least I should have enough soup to last me for lunches for the rest of the week.

I am making a steady pace of the reading. At the moment the book is looking at ideas about how we know about our own bodies. Sartre’s general idea seems to be that we know they are the is a relationship of instrumentality in the world that refers us back to ourselves. By relationship of instrumentality I mean that things refer to other things because of their uses. So a needle leads us to a thread, a hammer to a nail etc. All of which eventually leads us back to us.

Blocks, I am doing okay too. Got quite a bit done today on the train. But I did have a really easy block – the spider’s web one.

Actually read something


Today I actually got round to reading some of Being and Nothingness. Picked up where I left off on the topic of transcendence. Which is all I have to say about it at the moment. It is a topic that requires a little time to digest I think. I am still trying to figure out where it fits into the bigger picture.

I did get loads of sewing done this afternoon. I figured out that if I turned the monitor round I could watch DVDs on my computer while I was sewing on my machine. Only works if you have not too complicated blocks and a not too complicated DVD, but still it kept me out of mischief for the afternoon. I managed to get through all the pile of blocks I had cut ready for machine sewing. Except the couple I had to put back to recut. Now I just have to go and get some dinner because I am starving.

Monday 27 June


I am starting to feel like I am running out of steam, but that could just be tiredness talking. I could barely keep my eyes open on the train on the way home. I think it is just that I have been trying to cut back on the sugar a little and am having some withdrawal symptoms, that and I think I have a cold again.

I did do some reading this morning. Still on the topic of reflection and whether it can be knowledge. Sartre’s take on it seems to be that it can, but it is a limited kind of knowledge. That it can only be about the for-itself/consciousness. However, he does think that it can be accurate knowledge of consciousness. The problem might be that consciousness is wrong i.e. we have a faulty memory, we see or hear wrong, we are interpreting other people’s behaviour wrongly. So a garbage in, garbage out scenario really.

I also have blocks.

Immediate Structures of the For-itself


A small celebration is in order because I have finished the chapter titled Immediate Structures of the For-itself. Now apparently we are moving onto temporality because we need to look at that before we can look at the original relation of consciousness to being. Just have to keep reminding myself that I am moving forward, and that this is going somewhere, even if I am not entirely sure where it is.

No post tomorrow because I am going to my quilt group meeting.

I rather like the ship block below, though I don’t think I quite got the sea bit right.