sartre and eastern philosophy

linus

Registered Senior Member
Of the ones of you that have read sartre, i was curious about the distinctions and similarities you find between his work and that of eastern thought.
 
linus i havent read much eastern philosophy- a bit, but not much and it was a long time ago. I have read and studied sartre also a long time ago.

i think sartre is more self centred than the eastern philosophers in a sense and also in a weird way more self accepting. However i think both are conscious of self. I think they also both conatin the idea of truth being refllected in acting in coordination with the world and inner being.
 
Most Western philosophers who study consciousness get interested in Eastern philosophy, and many reach the same kind of conclusions.

Satre's thesis is that every act of consciousness involves 'intentionality' (awareness OF something). Therefore its essence is to be directed to what it is not. He asserts "it is what it is not".

He contends that the essence of consciousness must be nothingness, since there is nothing left over when you subtract intentional objects from consciousness. Consciousness therefore has no inner nature of its own, no intrinsic essence. It must be emptiness.

We are thus the free play of consciousnes on the world, and therein lies our freedom. This leads to the existentialist claim "existence preceeds essence".

This is not far from Buddhist philosophy.

It is a difficult conclusion to avoid, although there are ways of getting around it. For instance Nagel argues that consciousness cannot be reduced to the physical and makes a strong case. This is equivalent to Sartre in that both support the immateriality of consciousness.

Another way to sidestep the problem is Colin McGinn's, who espouses 'mysterianism'. This says that there is a rational/physical explanation but we're not allowed to work it out because of our 'epistemic limits'. This is also true in Buddhist philosophy, except that they say the truth can be known, just not rationally proved.

These common conclusions are not due to the influences of, or a general interest in Eastern philosophy. They are just what the facts suggest is the truth in the opinion of these thinkers.
 
Linus:
Of the ones of you that have read sartre, i was curious about the distinctions and similarities you find between his work and that of eastern thought.
You may have your thinkers confused.

But first, what do I want to say about Sartre other than 1) He makes me want to tear my hair from the roots and 2) I can't believe that some 50000 people showed up for the funeral of this hideous bore.

I paused here a bit to think on your question and I don't think there was anything Eastern to Sartre. He was a nihilst, absurd and a commie apologist........ but holistic?
No.

Were you thinking of Shcopenheaur maybe?
 
I hate Sartre
I hate Sartre
I hate Sartre
I hate Sartre

I hate Sartre
I hate Sartre
I hate Sartre
I hate Sartre
I hate Sartre
I hate Sartre

.............come you, join my mantra...........
 
the connection is obvious to anyone who has read both, i just wanted others to comment on it. to say there is no connection only shows you haven't read any of either or at least not enough to know what you're talking about. i'm not angry, and feel free to make commentary when it's informed.
 
Is that the same Strtre who refused Nobel prize in 1964?

Must be a fruitcake....not that everybody needs one, once a year....:D
 
Sartre and Madhyamaka

He contends that the essence of consciousness must be nothingness, since there is nothing left over when you subtract intentional objects from consciousness. Consciousness therefore has no inner nature of its own, no intrinsic essence. It must be emptiness.
If this is what Sartre really claims, then Sartre is the French match for Nagarjuna. :)

See how Heidegger and Sartre have modified the transcendental phenomenology of Husserl!:) The former, by giving an ontological interpretation of intentionality understanding it to be the Man's, i.e., Dasein's directedness towards Death (Nothing), the latter by misinterpreting the phenomenological reduction as a kind of transcendental clean up of consciousness.

Consciousness cannot be deprived of its intentionality, because being directed towards an object IS the essential nature of consiousness, not the presumed nothingness of Sartre or shunyata of Arya Nagarjuna, the founder of the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana philosophy.

Anyway, I have signed up to only invite all interested in Comparative philosophy to visit my forums from time to time, but couldn't resist the temptation to put a silly answer to a wise question. :)
 
Re: Sartre and Madhyamaka

Originally posted by Imago
Consciousness cannot be deprived of its intentionality, because being directed towards an object IS the essential nature of consiousness, not the presumed nothingness of Sartre or shunyata of Arya Nagarjuna, the founder of the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana philosophy.
Yes and no I would say. Is not 'emptiness' consciousness in the absence of intentionality? There seem to be two ways of looking at it, (as if that's a surprise).
 
No, I am afraid, consciousness is not the generic property of emptiness, nor emptiness is generic in relation to consciousness. Husserl has a very good term to refer to an object-less intention, it is called "die leere Intention", empty intention. So, emptiness, is a functional characteristic of consciousness, expressing only part of its nature.

On the other hand, sunyata itself may be turned into an obejct of meditation, then, of course, it will become the intentional target of consciousness, hence conceptuallt objectified, or "gegenstandlified" (reified), to use another term of Husserl.

Moreover, there are not only empty intentions, there are also empty intentional horizons. It seems to me, the negative dialectics of Nagarjuna is roaming in such an emty theoretical horizon.

Yet the comparative analysis of Madhyamaka and Husserlian understanding of nothingness is an interesting exploit.
 
Originally posted by Imago
No, I am afraid, consciousness is not the generic property of emptiness, nor emptiness is generic in relation to consciousness.
I'm not quite sure how you're using the words here. Agree with your first statement, but not your second (as stated).

I liked your site, may come and visit. Impressed to see Ken Wilbur there.
 
spidergoat: I don't agree that Zen is the absense of a philosophy. Zen Buddhism simply focuses more on meditation (in Japanese, as I am sure you know, Zen means meditation). Followers of Zen still adhere to the Dharma, the 3/4/8/12, and all that jazz.

Anyway, so far as Eastern Philosophy and Sartre go, I've noticed one or two similarities with existentialism and eastern thought, most noticably the concept of life = suffering/dread/anxiety, etc. The crux of existentialism, I think, is choice - the "burden of choice", as Sartre himself puts it numerous times. Can we find any parallels in eastern thought?

I'm not sure if anything jumps out. Maybe some early Confucian analects about choosing social class and whatnot, but I can't think of any parallels in contemporary/classical Buddhism, Taoism, etc.
 
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