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SSA could not be possible without the generous support of Drs. Herbert A. and Betty Lou Lubs and the Science, Society, and the Arts Research Conference Endowment. We are deeply grateful!
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Friday, March 17 • 10:30am - 11:45am
Freedom and Self in Existentialism — Huntley 321

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Freedom and Movement: A Synthesis of the Philosophies of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre (Paper)
Sesha Carrier
Simone de Beauvoir uses an understanding of the connectedness of human beings throughout her 1947 work, Ethics of Ambiguity to argue that the human condition depends on an assertion of freedom throughout free “others”. In this claim, Beauvoir differs from some of her existentialist counterparts, namely Sartre, and their focus on the individualistic nature of existence. This essay contrasts Beauvoir and Sartre’s rhetoric on the individual to conclude that existentialism can respond to oppression through combining Sartre’s notion of the responsibility of consciousness with Beauvoir’s idea of freedom as movement. This synthesis provides an answer to how a free consciousness has the total responsibility of seeking out a constant disclosure of the world through free movement to combat oppression.

Everyday Shame (Paper)
Rachael Miller
Jean Paul Sartre's 'Being and Nothingness' describes what it means to have an experience of shame, both for the Self and the Other. Sartre uses this description as a launching pad to claim that far from providing its own justification for its existence, the Self is determined by the Other. Is this assertion, however, necessarily a reasonable one? In this essay, I demonstrate that the answer to that question is ‘no.’ By providing a more in-depth description of Sartre’s account of the interaction with the Other, I show that the shame the Self experiences is not a reflection of the Other’s judgement, but a conditioned response to the Self’s intentional wrongdoing. I then employ Martin Heidegger’s concept of Das Man in conjunction with Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon to ultimately assert that shame’s true origin is as a self-enforced and mutually-policed political tool meant to encourage complacency among citizens of a state.

Existentialism Paper Panel (Paper)
Alex Farley
Sartre’s construction of shame involves one subject temporarily reducing another to the status of an ‘object’; however, this subject still remains a free consciousness and is thus able to flip the dynamic on ‘the other’ to cast off shame. In contrast, with Fanon’s dynamic of oppression, in which subjecthood is destroyed, oppression cannot be reversed. This reversal, as explained by Gordon Lewis, is impossible due to the elevation of the oppressor to a God-like status. While Sartre’s construction is inadequate, he does make an important observation, that the emotion that one feels in the face of an eternal subject is fear. Combining this idea with Gordon’s duality of personhood yields the conclusion that in a society of oppression, shame is transformed to fear in oppressed individuals. I conclude by emphasizing the need of empowered individuals coming together to reform the status quo and embrace the role of being an ally.


Friday March 17, 2017 10:30am - 11:45am
Huntley 321