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Jean-PaulSartre LiteraryPhilosophicalEssays 1962 (3)

Jean-PaulSartre LiteraryPhilosophicalEssays 1962 (3)

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11/25/2012

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Chapter12
CartesianFreedom
FREEDOM
S
ONEandindivisible,butitmanifestsitselfinavarietyofways,accordingtocircumstances.Thefollowingquestionmaybeaskedofallphilosopherswhosetupasitsdefenders:inconnectionwithwhatexceptional
situation
haveyouexperiencedyourfreedom?Itisonethingtotestyourfreedomintherealmofaction,ofsocialorpoliticalactivity,orofartisticcreation,andanotherthingtotestitintheactofunderstandinganddiscovering.ARichelieu,aVincentdePauloraComeillewould,hadtheybeenmetaphysicians,havehadcertainthingstotellusaboutfreedombecausetheygraspeditbyoneend,atamomentwhenitmanifesteditselfbyanabsoluteevent,bytheappearanceofsomethingnew,whetherpoemorinstitution,inaworldthatneitheraskedforitnorrejectedit.Descartes,whowasprimarilyameta-physician,graspedthingsbytheotherend:hisprimaryex-periencewasnotthatofcreativefreedom"exnihilo"butofautonomous
tbh]Jikimg
whichdiscoversbyitsownpowerin-telligiblerelationshipsamongexistingessences.ThatiswhyweFrenchmen,whohavebeenlivingbyCartesianfreedomforthreecenturies,understandimplicitlyby"freewill"thepracticeofindependent
thinking
ratherthantheproductionofacreativeact,andourphilosophershavefinallycome,likeAlain,toidentifyfreedomwiththeactofjudging.Thefactisthattheexhilarationofunderstandingalwaysincludesthejoyoffeelingourselvesresponsibleforthetruthswediscover.Regardlessofwhotheteacheris,therealwayscomesamomentwhenthepupilconfrontsthemathematicalproblemunaided.
If
hedoesnotbringhismindtograsptherelationships,ifhehimselfdoesnotproducetheconjecturesanddiagramswhicharetobeappliedlikecipher-stencilstothefigureunderconsiderationandwhichrevealthemajorfeaturesofitsconstruction,
if
hedoesnotfinallyacquirea
180
 
CartesianFreedom
I
181
decisiveinsight,thewordsremaindeadsigns;everythinghasbeenlearnedbyrote.Thus,ifIexaminemyself,Icanfeelthatintellectionisnotthemechanicalresultofapedagogicprocedure,butratherthatitsoriginliessolely
in
myde-liberatewilling,myapplication,myrefusaltobedistractedorhurried,intheundividedattentionofmymind-totheradicalexclusionofallexternalforces.AndsuchindeedwasDes-cartes'primaryintuition.Hewasmorefullyawarethananyoneelsethattheslightestactofthinkinginvolvesallthinking,anautonomousthinkingthatpositsitself-ineachofitsacts-initsfullandabsoluteindependence.But,aswehaveseen,thisexperienceof
autonomy
doesnotcoincidewiththatof
productivity.
Thereasonisthatthoughtmustobviouslyhave
something
tounderstand,whetheritbetheobjectiverelationshipsamongessencesandamongstructures,orthesequenceofideas,inshort,apre-establishedorderofrelationships.Thus,asacounterparttofreedomofintellection,nothingismorerigorousthanthepaththatliesahead:"Asthereisbutonetruthconcerningeachthing,who-everfindsitknowsallthatcanbeknownaboutit.Forex-ample,achildwhohasbeentaughtarithmeticandwhohasdoneasuminaccordancewithitsrulescanbecertainthat,asfarasthesumwhichheexaminedisconcerned,hehasfoundallthatthehumanmindcanfind.Forthemethodwhichteacheshowtofollowthetrueorderandtoindicateexactlyallthecircumstancesofwhatissought,containseverythingthatgivescertaintytotherulesofarithmetic."
1
Everythingisstated:theobjecttobediscoveredandthemethod.Thechildwhosetshimselftodoingasum
in
ac-cordancewiththerulesdoesnotenrichtheuniversewithanewtruth.Hemerelyrepeatsanoperationthathasbeenperformedbyathousandothersbefore
him
andthathewillneverbeabletopushbeyondthesamepointtheyhavereached.Theattitudeofthemathematicianisthereforearatherstrikingparadox.Hismindislikethatofamanwhowalksonaverynarrowpathwhereeachofhisstepsandtheverypostureofhisbodyarerigorouslyconditionedbythe
1
DiscourseonMethod,
PartII.
 
182
I
LiteraryandPhilosophicalEssays
natureofthegroundandthenecessitiesofthewalking,butwhoisneverthelessimbuedwiththeunshakableconvictionthatheisperformingalltheseactsfreely.
In
short,
if
westartwithmathematicalintellection,howshallwereconcilethefixityandnecessityofessenceswithfreedomofjudg-ment?Theproblem
is
particularlydifficultowingtothefactthat,inDescartes'time,theorderofmathematicaltruthsseemedtoallright-thinkingpeopletheproductofthedivinewill.Andsincethisordercouldnotbeeluded,Spinozapre-ferredtosacrificehumansubjectivitytoit:heshowedthetrueasdevelopingandassertingitselfbyitsownpower
through
theseincompleteindividualities,thesefinitemodes.Confrontedwiththeorderofessences,subjectivitycanbeonlythesimplefreedomofadheringtothetrue(inthesensethat,forcertainmoralists,wehavenoother
right
thantodoour
duty)
orelseitisonlyajumbledthought,amutilatedtruth,thedevelopmentandelucidationofwhichdissipateitssub-jectivecharacter.Inthesecondcase,mandisappears.Thereremainsnodifferencebetweenthoughtandtruth.Thetrue
is
thetotalityofthesystemofthoughts.
If
anyonewantstosaveman,theonlythingtodo,sincehecannot
produce
anyideabutonlycontemplateit,istoprovidehimwithasimplenegativepower,thatofsaying
no
towhateverisnottrue.Thus,wefindinDescartes,undertheappearanceofaunitarysystem,tworatherdifferenttheoriesoffreedom,accordingtowhetherheisconsideringthispowerofunderstandingandjudgingwhichishisorwhetherhesimplywantstosavetheautonomyofmanwhenconfrontedwiththerigoroussystemofideas.Hisspontaneousreactionistoaffirmtheresponsibilityofmaninthepresenceofthetrue.Truthisahumanthing,sinceImustaffirmitinorderforittoexist.Beforemy
judgment,
whichisanadherenceofmywillandafreecommitmentofmybeing,thereexistonlyneutralandfloatingideaswhichareneithertruenorfalse.Manisthusthebeingthroughwhomtruthappearsintheworld.Histaskistocommithim-selftotallyinorderthatthenaturalorderofexistantsmaybecomeanorderoftruths.Hemustpondertheworld,mustwillhisthinkingandmusttransformtheorderofbeinginto

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