A philosophy webcomic about the inevitable anguish of living a brief life in an absurd world. Also Jokes

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Existentialism at the Peephole

Description: Sartre is in a hallway looking through the keyhole of a door.
Sartre: "Ohhhh yeah, that's right baby... "

Sartre: "...mmm yeah, take it off..."

Sartre: "Sartre, what the hell are you doing?"
de Beauvoir, suddenly appearing: "Sartre, what the hell are you doing?
Sartre: "Ahh!"

Sartre: "Oh uh...just doing some serious existential philosophy, de Beauvoir."

de Beauvoir: "Really? Because it looked like you were spying into that keyhole."
de Beauvoir: "Sartre, come on, really?"
Sartre: "Yeah...totally..."

de Beauvoir: "So uh...can i try?"
Sartre: "Of course."

de Beauvoir, looking through the keyhole: "Oh yeah....that's some interesting...philosophy."

Description: both are now looking through the keyhole.
Sartre: "Ohhh baby, we are learning something deep about the human condition right now."
de Beauvoir: "This is very philosophical."
Why is it philosophical? They were looking at Rene Descartes taking a bath.

Sartre gives a famous example of someone looking through a keyhole, to illustrate his concept of "The Look", in Being and Nothingness.

Let us imagine that moved by jealousy, curiosity, or vice I have just glued my ear to the door and looked through a keyhole. I am alone and on the level of a non-thetic self-consciousness. This means first of all that there is no self to inhabit my consciousness, nothing therefore to which I can refer my acts in order to qualify them. They are in no way known; I am my acts and hence they carry in themselves their whole justification. I am a pure consciousness of things, and things, caught up in the circuit of my selfness, offer to me their potentialities as the proof of my non-thetic consciousness (of) my own possibilities. This means that behind that door a spectacle is presented as "to be seen," a conversation as "to be heard."

...

But all of a sudden I hear footsteps in the hall. Someone is looking at me. What does this mean? It means that I am suddenly affected in my being and that essential modifications appear in my structure - modifications which I can apprehend and fix conceptually by means of the reflective cogito.

First of all, I now exist as myself for my unreflective consciousness. It is this irruption of the self which has been most often described: I see myself because somebody sees me - as it is usually expressed.

...

Only the reflective consciousness has the self directly for an object. The unreflective consciousness does not apprehend the person directly or as its object; the person is presented to consciousness in so far as the person is an object for the Other. This means that all of a sudden I am conscious of myself as escaping myself, not in that I am the foundation of my own nothingness but in that I have my foundation outside myself. I am for myself only as I am a pure reference to the Other.

If it helps, just try to imagine yourself parallel parking into a super tight space while a crowd of people watches.

Sartre gives a famous example of someone looking through a keyhole, to illustrate his concept of "The Look", in Being and Nothingness.

Let us imagine that moved by jealousy, curiosity, or vice I have just glued my ear to the door and looked through a keyhole. I am alone and on the level of a non-thetic self-consciousness. This means first of all that there is no self to inhabit my consciousness, nothing therefore to which I can refer my acts in order to qualify them. They are in no way known; I am my acts and hence they carry in themselves their whole justification. I am a pure consciousness of things, and things, caught up in the circuit of my selfness, offer to me their potentialities as the proof of my non-thetic consciousness (of) my own possibilities. This means that behind that door a spectacle is presented as "to be seen," a conversation as "to be heard."

...

But all of a sudden I hear footsteps in the hall. Someone is looking at me. What does this mean? It means that I am suddenly affected in my being and that essential modifications appear in my structure - modifications which I can apprehend and fix conceptually by means of the reflective cogito.

First of all, I now exist as myself for my unreflective consciousness. It is this irruption of the self which has been most often described: I see myself because somebody sees me - as it is usually expressed.

...

Only the reflective consciousness has the self directly for an object. The unreflective consciousness does not apprehend the person directly or as its object; the person is presented to consciousness in so far as the person is an object for the Other. This means that all of a sudden I am conscious of myself as escaping myself, not in that I am the foundation of my own nothingness but in that I have my foundation outside myself. I am for myself only as I am a pure reference to the Other.

If it helps, just try to imagine yourself parallel parking into a super tight space while a crowd of people watches.

Philosophers in this comic: Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir
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