final draft

Stephanie Fang
Philosophy 327
Summer 2014
II. The Other

"The category of Other is as original as consciousness itself..a fundamental hostility to any other consciousness is found in consciousness itself; the subject posits itself only in opposition; it asserts itself as the essential and sets up the other as inessential, as the object (6-7)."

Beauvoir's concept of the Other is a fundamental stepping stone in her work. It ties in with her other concepts of subject, object, objectification (particularly of women) and how the Other as a construct is a powerful source of the inequality of men and women. The Other does not merely divide One from the Other, it is understood that the Other is inferior, inessential and acted upon. Somehow women have been put into the category of the Other. Not only that, but women are complicit with this definition of them and submit to this idea by considering themselves the objects which men act upon. But before exploring that further, let us explore what is meant by Beauvoir's definition of the Other.

It could be argued that consciousness is self-awareness, that an individual is not truly conscious until it recognizes itself as separate from the world from which it was born. Babies and children have a weak sense of the separation between reality and dream, between themselves and their family. They lack autonomy because other's peoples thoughts are accepted as their own. It is only as they begin to develop and grow that they start to realize that they may not always want to do what their parents demand, that they may have different wants and needs than those defined by their environment. That separation is essential to individuality and to consciousness. Thus, "the category of Other is as original as consciousness itself" simply because when true consciousness emerges it is simultaneous with a sense of separation. True consciousness is a step beyond observation, sensation and feeling. True consciousness requires the ability to collect these and form them into patterns, thoughts, into insights and conclusions. With this organization must come an acknowledgement of a self, of the person behind the eyes, the one who is doing the perceiving. The subject. Then the line is drawn between the subject, the observer, the One and that which is perceived-- the observed, the object, the Other.

This separation is a self absorbed one. Everyone sees themselves as the Subject, they are the ones through which the world is viewed. Their biases and opinions are the lens through which their story is told, and they are the hero of their story. The world is their backdrop, and everything that is not them is the object. They are each the primary, and all of both the things and people around them are secondary, are the Others. It is only consciousness that gives a sense of "I". "I" see this, "I" do that, "I" befriended "her". True consciousness "asserts itself as the essential and sets up the other as inessential, as the object" (p.6). This makes perfect sense when one considers the fact that it is a distinct possibility that our consciousness is the only one that exists in this world, that perhaps even the world does not exist and there is no other consciousness but merely our own fabrications or delusions. There is no way we can be one hundred percent certain that anything outside of our consciousness exists. So it makes sense that it is our self awareness that becomes essential, that we are the One. Perhaps the only One.

However, this distinction between the One and the Other is not a peaceful one. In fact, it is quite violent and hostile. The Other is not simply what we are not. A chair is not an Other, nor is our clothes or any other inanimate object. Neither is something animate but random that has nothing to do with how we define ourselves-- for example I am not a horse nor am I French but neither of these really are of any import to me. I do not define myself as someone who is not a chair, who is not a horse, who is not French. The Other excites a violent denial, as may be expressed by a teenage boy who is teased by his peers as "girly" or who "throws like a girl" and who will then heatedly deny this comparison and be infuriated and upset about being pushed him into the category of Other when he sees himself as in the category of One. Another example would be if a devout Christian is accused of being a pagan and blasphemous. In these example we are moving away from the idea of separation between subject and object to the separation of Other and One. The Other is a group, as is the One. The one is the dominant group, the oppressor, the one who enjoys power as a right and may not even recognize that they are privileged but only have a vague sense that they're glad not to be an Other, the minority, the oppressed. "No group ever defines itself as One without immediately setting up the Other opposite itself. It only takes three travelers brought together by chance in the same train compartment for the rest of the travelers to become vaguely hostile 'others'" (p.6). The Office, an American tv show, demonstrates the Other and how it can create a sense of unity and superiority as the One by mocking an Other. In this show the main character is a man named Michael Scott who is extremely obnoxious, rude, and completely unaware of his effect on others. When he makes an offensive or just straight up stupid comment, another character named Jim makes eye contact with the camera and raises his eyebrows in a bemused, friendly manner. In that moment the viewer feels connected with Jim in an opposition to Michael Scott. Jim is the One, and we are in an alliance with him against the Other.Though there may not be hostility or anger, there is a definite sense of "I am so not like that" and "I know better and am more intelligent and aware because he does not what an ass he is making of himself right now".

Beauvoir's concern lies with patriarchy and how men are the One and women are the Other. She points out that essentially the separation of One and Other, subject and object, should be a reciprocal situation. A woman should see a man and see herself as subject and him as object even while he sees her as object and himself as subject. Strangely enough, this is not the case. "No subject posits itself spontaneously and at once as the inessential from the outset, it is not the Other who, defining itself as Other, defines the One; the Other is posited as Other by the One positing itself as One.. But in order for the Other not to turn into the One, the Other has to submit to this foreign point of view. Where does this submission in woman come from?" (p.6). Woman places themselves in submission and into the category of Other automatically, even within her own subjectivity! It is this which is greatly puzzling and also helps maintain the inequality of men and women.

III. An Absolute Evil

"Every subject posits itself as a transcendence concretely, through projects; it accomplishes its freedom only by perpetual surpassing toward other freedoms; there is no justification for present existence than its expansion toward an indefinitely open future. Every time transcendence lapses into immanence, there is a degradation of existence into 'in-itself', of freedom into facticity; this fall is a moral fault if the subject consents to it; if this fall is inflicted on the subject, it takes the form of frustration and oppression; in both cases it is an absolute evil (16)."

In freshman year I had a professor who was very passionate and eloquent. One time she mystified me with a lecture about work. She said that all a person can really own is their work, is what they do, and what they produce. The greatest outrage of the modern world and capitalism is that with the Industrial Revolution people have been divorced from their work and lost their connection to it. Instead of making an entire shoe, they are reduced to people in a line completing one part and possibly never seeing the whole shoe at the end of it. We are more concerned about services rendered than products created. There is no integrity because we work with parts and at the end of the day our work dissolves into nothing. Customer service consists of you dealing with the complaints of people about products one is not responsible for, for a company that is not your own, for purposes that are not yours. This resonates with Beauvoir's concepts of subject, object, projects, transcendence and immanence. In a Beauvoiran sense, her words now make sense.

To exist is to be a subject rather than an object. Even grammatically speaking, objects are acted upon while subjects act upon object. Subjects are the one and objects are the Other. The thing is that someone can be a person and not assume an authentic existence, which is to say they do not have projects and do not transcend. They fail to realize the potential within them to be authentic, they fail to realize that which separates a person from a thing. To exist is to engage in transcendence, ever striving forward without falling into immanence. Immanence is stillness, stagnation. It is fixed, it is an eternal temptation for everyone. "Indeed, beside every individual's claim to assert himself as subject-- an ethical claim-- lies the temptation to flee freedom and to make himself into a thing: it is a pernicious path because the individual, passive, alienated, and lost, is prey to a foreign will, cut off from his transcendence, robbed of all worth. But it is an easy path: the anguish and stress of authentically assumed existence are thus avoided."

A thing has no responsibility to transcend, it is simply there until it no longer is. It does not have consciousness nor the ability to strive. Not only that, it does not have a choice. A rock will be a rock. It may become smaller but that is because something else breaks it into smaller pieces. It has no projects, it does nothing. There is nothing wrong with this, the thing does not deny itself because it can never be anything but what it is. People, however, are different. It would be immoral, the most absolute evil, to allow human consciousness to sink into immanence, to stop trying to just be a thing when you have the chance to be more than a thing, to be a subject and not an object. In order to exist authentically we must realize that which separates from things- the ability to transcend ourselves. The carpenter today can strive to be a better carpenter tomorrow, to learn better techniques, to understand more deeply what it is to be a carpenter. To exist is to be a project and have projects. A project is a series of actions throughout time that are designed to reach a goal. It is not a project if it is simply a goal which is never worked towards. More importantly, a project must bear some risk. Transcendence entails pushing ourselves, attempting things we are not sure we can accomplish. Transcendence entails fighting for your projects and persevering.

These projects are what in the end define our existence and give meaning to it. Meaning is not born with us, we are born without meaning. And it is possible for a person to never have meaning, to exist inauthentically, in immanence and in bad faith. They can follow whatever path is easiest, never push themselves beyond what is comfortable for themselves and just stay alive until they die without ever existing. This is the risk we run and the temptation we face when we do not want to do something because it might be difficult, because we might fail, because it requires effort.

When we stay dormant, do not act, do not attempt, we are objectifying ourselves. We are reducing ourselves into little more than a thing, thoughtless and without meaning. That is what is meant by objectification, the turning of someone into a thing and refusing them their capacity to be a project and their potential for transcendence. If we are objectified by others, it is a different story from when we objectify ourselves. If we allow this, we are committing an absolute evil. It is a moral fault if we accept the fall from transcendence into immanence. It is not a moral fault if we are objectified by others, if we are forced into immanence. However, if there is anyway to fight it, immanence must be denied, refused and avoided in order to exist authentically as a subject rather than inauthentically an object.

sleeping badly

yesterday i couldn't sleep til 6am. got up at 11 for my 11:40 class. after class at 1:30 chatted for a while then fell asleep in my car at 2:30. woke up at 3 then went to the tree to do some work. came home around 6, showered and got ready for dinner with kiem at 8. had dinner with kiem til 10:30ish then went home, started talking to kim. ended up talking to kim til 1:20am and am now too fried to talk to jeannette. i'm sorry sis :'(

tomorrow my schedule is pretty grueling. and i have a ringing in my ears that is worrisome. i have a staff meeting at 9:30am which ends at 1:30. then at 3:30 i'm going to do some reading of wpe exams for them til 5:30. after that i'm headed to the aquarium of the pacific with barbara. wah.. this mostly was to explain to jeannette why i couldn't talk today and how sorry i am about it. sigh... gomen ne.

left earbud and engine light

My left earbud keeps falling off. It fell off once and i stole the bud off another pair of headphones i don't like as much to put it on. I kept it on for a day and now it's gone again. Aghh. Why the left and not the right? Is my ear some where kind of compressor that pushes the ear bud off it's little hook thing, but only my left ear?

And alsomy engine light! It keeps coming on and i take it to the mechanic and he tells me that it's just the sensor that isn't working correctly and he would replace the sensor etc. But then after a couple days of having it back the light will turn back on. And then sometimes the light blinks out! It's like some kind of very very minor psychological torture; similar to the pranks jim halpert plays on dwight schrute. Except there isn't anyone i know who would prank me..as i don't really run with pranksters. Trolls, maybe. But not pranksters.

rough draft

I woke up early to have breakfast at garden cafe. I generally don't like garden cafe but their breakfast is really good and affordable. I think this might be a series of breakfasts with a new friend, which is exciting. A n y way afterwards I went to Urth in the hopes of meeting up with Diana but I went to the la one and she went to the pasadena one haha. Nevertheless I ended up doing quite a bit of work. Finished my reading for one class and did the rough draft of my take home midterm. Tell me what you guys think of it :)

I. The Other

"The category of Other is as original as consciousness itself..a fundamental hostility to any other consciousness is found in consciousness itself; the subject posits itself only in opposition; it asserts itself as the essential and sets up the other as inessential, as the object (6-7)."

Beauvoir's concept of the Other is a fundamental stepping stone to her work which ties in with the concepts of subject, object, objectification (particularly of women) and how the Other as a construct is a powerful source of the inequality of men and women. The Other does not merely divide One from the Other, it is understood that the Other is inferior, inessential and acted upon. Somehow women have been put into the category of the Other. Not only that, but women are complicit with this definition of them and submit to this idea by considering themselves the objects which men act upon. But before exploring that further, let us further decode what is meant by Beauvoir's definition of the Other.

It could be argued that consciousness is self-awareness, that an individual is not truly conscious until it recognizes itself as separate from the world from which it was born. Babies and children have a weak sense of the separation between reality and dream, between themselves and their family. They lack autonomy because other's peoples thoughts are accepted as their own. It is only as they begin to develop and grow that they begin to realize that they may not always want to do what their parents demand, that they may have different wants and needs than those defined by their environment. That separation is essential to individuality and to consciousness. Thus, "the category of Other is as original as consciousness itself" simply because when true consciousness emerges it is simultaneous with a sense of separation. True consciousness is a step beyond observation, sensation and feeling. True consciousness requires the ability to collect these and form them into patterns, thoughts, into insights and conclusions. With this organization must come an acknowledgement of a self, of the person behind the eyes, the one who is doing the perceiving. The subject. Then the line is drawn between the subject, the observer, the One and that which is perceived-- the observed, the object, the Other. Beauvoir's definition of the subject and the object parallels the definition given it by English grammar-- the subject acts and the object is acted upon.

This separation is a self absorbed one. Everyone sees themselves as the Subject, they are the ones through which the world is viewed. Their biases and opinions are the lens through which their story is told, and they are the hero of their story. The world is their backdrop, and everything that is not them is the object. They are each the primary, and all of both the things and people around them are secondary, are the others. It is only consciousness that gives a sense of "I". "I" see this, "I" do that, "I" befriended "her". True consciousness "asserts itself as the essential and sets up the other as inessential, as the object" (p.6). This makes perfect sense when one considers the fact that it is a distinct possibility that our consciousness is the only one that exists in this world, that perhaps even the world does not exist and there is no other consciousness but merely our own fabrications or delusions. There is no way we can be one hundred percent certain that anything outside of our consciousness exists. So it makes sense that it is our self awareness that becomes essential, that we are the One and perhaps the only one.

However, this distinction between the One and the Other is not a peaceful one. In fact, it is quite violent and hostile. The Other is not simply what we are not. A chair is not an Other, nor is our clothes or any other inanimate object. Neither is something animate but random that has nothing to do with how we define ourselves-- for example I am not a horse nor am I French but neither of these really are of any import to me. I do not define myself as someone who is not a chair, who is not a horse, who is not French. The Other excites a violent denial, as may be expressed by a teenage boy who is teased by his peers as "girly" or who "throws like a girl" and who will then heatedly deny this comparison and be infuriated and upset about being pushed him into the category of Other when he sees himself as in the category of One. Another example would be if a devout Christian is accused of being a pagan and blasphemous. In these example we are moving away from the idea of separation between subject and object to the separation of Other and One. The Other is a group, as is the One. The one is the dominant group, the oppressor, the one who enjoys power as a right and may not even recognize that they are priviliged but only have a vague sense that they're glad not to be an Other, the minority, the oppressed.

Beauvoir's concern lies with patriarchy and how men are the One and women are the Other. She points out that essentially the separation of One and Other, subject and object, should be a reciprocal situation. A woman should see a man and see herself as subject and him as object even while he sees her as object and himself as subject. Strangely enough, this is not the case. "No subject posits itself spontaneousy and at once as the inessential from the outset, it is not the Other who, defining itself as Other, defines the One; the Other is posited as Other by the One positing itself as One.. But in order for the Other not to tur into the One, the Other has to subimt to this foreign point of view. Where does this submission in woman come from?" (p.6). Woman places themselves in submission and into the category of Other automatically, even within her own subjectivity! It is this which is greatly puzzling and also helps maintain the inequality of men and women.


----------------

Edit: 11:42pm
I was watching adventure time clips. A couple comments I saw:

Is gunter a boy or a girl?
>> It's a penguin I think

philosophizing

so i think i should attempt to write some of the concepts or ideas floating around in my philosophy class after class ends. i think that would make me understand it better.

right now our main reading is simon de beauvoir's the second sex. and apparently she's one of the philosophers which people associate with existentialism, though existentialism isn't a term that she came up with or really agreed with but eventually accepted. this is because her concept of existence is something central to her ideas about women. so for example to exist is to be a subject and not an object. i found this interesting because it ties into grammar-- the object is acted upon while the subject is the one that acts upon it. women are often objectified in that they are complicit in the idea of women being the other, the object, without trying to realize their potential to transcend. to exist authentically is to be transcendent. to be transcendent means having projects, or a series of actions that add up to accomplish something. but these projects can often be mistaken for projects that are in bad faith or defined by a person's situation. a person's situation is all that contributes to them as a person and includes where they were born, when they were born, to whom. all of these are part of "you" and to deny it is to deny your own existence.

BUT THE THING IS..sorry if all that was confusing. but the thing is i kind of disagree (or actually really disagree) with her idea that there is no core self. it's optimistic in its way by saying that who you are is determined just by you. but "you" is the determiner and what makes that person you? isn't it the core self that forms your consciousness which can then decide what projects to take on and what existence to assume? she states that there is no meaning to your life except for the meaning that you yourself make. that i can agree with. but i just don't get like how there can't be a core being that governs your decisions and makes you who you are. because then if someone is able to realize their existence authentically doesn't that mean that who they are is capable of doing such a thing? is there really no limitation to it all?

i think i confused myself furhter with this. maybe i'll just send this to my professor...and ask him haha.

notes from convo

Some hurts never heal
I don't know her anymore
I want people to prove me wrong

the situation

SOOO i've been a bit annoyed with gideon. I understand he's a flake now because he has a girlfriend and she's top priority and also he has to remodel his house..which means he doesn't know when he's free or whatever. Fine whatever. But i feel like he's been straight up kind of rude in that he is hanging out with all of my friends without asking me along. I'm feeling tfti for real but i feel like i can't joke about it so i can't say it. Because the spirit of tfti should be kind of light and joking otherwise it's straight up a guilt trip. Which is what i hate about it when it is a guilt trip. So whatever.

But also apparently he told jeannette i've been "crabby". Which kind of pisses me off. Because if i'm upset and i don't normally act this way, is it fair to just call me crabby as if the power originate just from me and has no outside source or foundation?

The reason he called me crabby is because of some texts i sent the other day resulting from this situation. I had asked diana if she can hang out and she said that gideon had asked her to hang out. I felt a little sensitive already because he cut me out of a movie thing with hunter publicly on a thread on facebook. Which i just felt was rude. If he realy wanted to see hunter alone he could've directly messaged hunter. Instead he made it all public. So i told diana i didn't felel ike going because i felt petulant. I didn't tell her it was because i didn't feel wanted or invited by gideon. I was also very full from eating lunch so i ended up watching the office instead. I elt a bit bad for not going so i texted gideon when i saw that in the office a character had a cat named sprinkles which is a nickname of mine). So i texted him and he said WAIT..you aren't here cause you're watching the office? I demurred and said noo...not at all. But i told jeannette what was going on and she suggested i be direct with him. So this is the thread:

Gideon:
WAIT
YOU'RE not coming to watch the office?

Me:
Uh...Noooo.... >_>
I'm still full from lunch haha. I'm down to boba after or whatever
(2 hours later)
The office > Gideon :P
Anyway why are you complaining? You aren't even the one who invited me. If anything Diana should be the one who's piqued.

And now I've been labeled crabby. Sigh.

vietnam war

So i never really learned about the vietnam war and i feel like my lack of knowledge of it is really quite horrendous. Therefore in class today i was reading the wikipedia article on the vietnam war. It's kind of weird though because i later realized that no matter what i want to multi task. I want multiple tabs open and i want to be doing one thing in the middle of doing another. I like the class and i enjoy the lecture but sometimes i feel like i'm making too much eye contact with the professor. Or if i just listen without doing anything else i will fall asleep. This happened today. I was looking down into my lap at my tablet and then i fell straight asleep. Came to five minutes later and wondered if the professor had noticed. I think this cute guy with curly hair noticed though because when i looked around the classroom he gave me a small smile and had an amused expression.

It's funny how barely anyone noticed my picture of me smiling. But 16 people have liked my picture of me looking emo. S asked me what was wrong. I started off kind of bullshitting it but actually there was a lot of truth in it. I gues i can now see the appeal of speaking vaguely and without concrete details..it's kind of freeing to just spin it. Makes things seem more deep than they might be.

Example:
I'm beginning to think this just isn't going to work anymore. I felt really far away today, all day.

notebook entry

I started writing a blog entry in my notebook because taking normal notes was making me fall asleep very quickly:

I'm so sleepy. Oh my god. Yesterday I had coffee in the morning with my breakfast, then an earl grey blended boba at around 8, then an affogato (vanilla ice cream with affogato espresso on top).

That was all I wrote.

As a result of all the caffeine I was up until 7am, at which point I slipped into a caffeinated fever like dream for an hour and a half and kind of lay there half dozing until it was time for me to get up and shower. My eyes were so dry but I could still feel the caffeine running through my veins with my exhaustion just underneath it. I'm still not sleepy now though I am tired.

I'm kind of annoyed at my mechanic. He sold my mom the PT Cruiser and 80% of the time I've had this car, the engine light has been on. The weekend before last I brought it in so they can replace the sensor or whatever. Then two days later the light blinked back on when I took the freeway. So this last weekend, on Saturday I brought it back AGAIN. Then yesterday the light came back on after I added the stupid premium gas. Yesterday, which was monday! So it was one day of not having the fucking engine light on. My mother accuses me of not taking care of the car properly because I was reluctant to bring it in last weekend-- but that was because it doesn't seem to change a damn thing. God.

some thoughts wearing thin

okay so i think there's just some thoughts filling up and they're what bumming me out. i'm sorry if letting them out results in them ravaging your mind as well, especially you sis but i don't know. i just gotta let it out.

living with my mother and my mother only i've become more sympathetic towards her and am recognizing more and more of her facets. this resulted in the fact that when my dad returned my original hero worship is tempered by the recognition that he is really dismissive and kind of disrespectful of my mother. i wonder if there is any love left in his heart for her. i know she still loves him but i don't know. it was ironic because i was talking to my dad about how my brother doesn't let my mom walk over him or tell him what to do. then my dad gently corrected me and said "but he is quite disrespectful of her". the irony! i thought but did not say.

it's hard for me. every once in a while she'll talk of her past achievements. how she used to work full time, then come home and take care of my brother. then on the weekends how she would cook throughout the weekend so that there would be food to eat throughout the week. how she got all a's in her classes and only one b when she went back to school for her master's. i never know what to say. on one hand it is like.. i am proud of you for achieving what you did. but what use is it now? what did it lead to? it lead to nothing.

then when i think even more on it i get more and more depressed. she is smart and active, she has energy and wakes up early every day. but what does she accomplish? she is always saving money, clipping coupons, worrying about every dollar she loses. but she's not rich and the worry never goes away. her family likes to spend and her relatives need her. she is pretty and used to be extremely pretty to the point that men were falling over themselves to see her, to date her. and then she ended up with this man who in the end doesn't really seem to care about what she has to say or what she thinks, with children who mostly ignore her or try to interact with her as little as possible. i recognize the sadness of it and i try to be patient but there's no denying that at the end of the day she is somewhat annoying to interact with! yet her loneliness i cannot ignore and i do love her and i care and want her to be happy. at least i know she is capable, as i am, to enjoy the little things. she goes to huntington library and is happy over the beauty of the roses. she always looks at the sky, though her idea of a beautiful sky is not the same as mine. she likes her shows, she is a fangirl of jang geun suk (and i know well how much happiness being a fan can bring one). but still. essentially i am so sad about it i don't know what to do.

"What I had been afraid of was true. I was going to be left. There was something mysterious the matter with me, something that could not be put right like bad breath or overlooked like pimples, and everybody knew it, and I knew it; I had known it all along. But I had not known it for sure, I had hoped to be mistaken. Certainty rose inside me like sickness."

— Alice Munro, “Red Dress—1946”

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