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The Tucson Philosophy Group Message Board › Short reading for 2-13-12 Tucson Philosophy Group Meeting: Sartre's Triple D

Short reading for 2-13-12 Tucson Philosophy Group Meeting: Sartre's Triple Destructibility of Love

user 4912827
Group Organizer
Tucson, AZ

Jean-Paul Sartre

We have just defined the triple destructibility of love: in the first place it is, in essence, a deception and a reference to infinity since to love is to wish to be loved, hence to wish that the Other wish that I love him. A pre-ontological comprehension of this deception is given in the very impulse of love-hence the lover's perpetual dissatisfaction. It does not come, as is so often said, from the unworthiness of being loved but from an implicit comprehension of the fact that the amorous intuition is, as a fundamental-intuition, an ideal out of reach. The more I am loved, the more I lose my being, the more I am thrown back on my own responsibilities, on my own power to be. In the second place the Other's awakening is always possible; at any moment he can make me appear as an object-hence the lover's perpetual insecurity. In the third place love is an absolute which is perpetually made relative by others. One would have to be alone in the world with the beloved in order for love to preserve its character as an absolute axis of reference-hence the lover's perpetual shame (or pride-which here amounts to the same thing).

Thus it is useless for me to have tried to lose myself in objectivity; my passion will have availed me nothing. The Other has referred me to my own unjustifiable subjectivity-either by himself or through others. This result can provoke a total despair and a new attempt to realize the identification of the Other and myself. Its ideal will then be the opposite of that which we have just described; instead of projecting the absorbing of the Other while preserving in him his otherness, I shall project causing myself to be absorbed by the Other and losing myself in his subjectivity in order to get rid of my own. This enterprise will be expressed concretely by the masochistic attitude. Since the Other is the foundation of my being for-others, if I relied on the Other to make me exist, I should no longer be anything more than a being-in-itself founded in its being by a freedom. Here it is my own subjectivity which is considered as an obstacle to the primordial act by which the Other would found me in my being.

It is my own subjectivity which above all must be denied by my own freedom. I attempt therefore to engage myself wholly in my being-as object. I refuse to be anything more than an object. I rest upon the Other, and as I experience this being-as-object in shame, I win and I love my shame as the profound sign of my objectivity. As the Other apprehends me as object by means of actual desire, I wish to be desired, I make myself in shame an object of desire. This attitude would resemble that of love if instead of seeking to exist for the Other as the object-limit of his transcendence, I did not rather insist on making myself be treated as one object among others, as an instrument to be used. Now it is my transcendence which is to be denied, not his. This time I do not have to project capturing his freedom; on the contrary I hope that this freedom may be and will itself to be radically free. Thus the more I shall feel myself surpassed toward other ends, the more I shall enjoy the abdication of my transcendence. Finally I project being nothing more than an object; that is, radically an in-itself. But inasmuch as a freedom which will have absorbed mine will be the foundation of this in-itself, my being will become again the foundation of itself.

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