The dualism of finite-infinite cannot be avoided.

The dualism of finite-infinite cannot be avoided.

Jean-Paul Sartre starts off his monumental essay Being and Nothingness by telling us that he is going to throw aside all dualisms, but then quickly concedes that the dualism of finite-infinite cannot be avoided. Ultimately, this leads into the separation of self-other, or in his terms, the being-for-itself and the being-in-itself. He carries this self-other dualism throughout the essay, which manifests itself as a relationship between the subject and the object. However, it is my contention that this subject-object relationship does not hold up when applied to the relationship between a subject and another subject. The subject objectifies the Other self through the “look” via seeing the body as an object of expression for the Other. However, the idea that this necessitates a conflict-based relationship between people is based upon something that Sartre overlooks. Sartre does allow the possibility of a “plurality of subjectivities” later on in the essay,[1] but only upon arguing that the very basis of human interaction is one of a conflict based upon the objectification of the Other. It is my goal to argue that the Other, as another thinking being-for-itself, never becomes a mere object; that this is an impossible situation. The objectification of the Other is either impossible or a result of the same “bad faith” as the objectification of the Other by the reflective consciousness of the self. The self is that thing which we cannot see as an object except upon reflection. The Other is that thing which we cannot see as a subject except upon reflection. Sartre is not trying to do metaphysics, but the being-for-itself relating to a being-in-itself type of model assumes a subject-object ontology which gives rise to a particular metaphysical outlook. It is this model that drives Sartre’s essay exemplified by the very terminology he uses; being-for-itself as the subject and being-in-itself as the object. And whil…


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