Essay, Research Paper
Describe the anti-semitic person’s attitude toward reason. How does his attitude toward reason reflect or reveal his general attitude toward life, the human condition and even himself? How does his attitude toward reason compare to the attitude of the rational man?
Sartre explains that an Anti-Semite is “impenetrable”, and it is actually something he strives to achieve. By gaining impenetrability, the Anti-Semite strengthens his beliefs because another person is not capable of reasoning with him. Sartre believes the Anti-Semite’s “reason” is based on the passion for hatred that he holds for the Jew. Sartre uses the word “monoideism” to explain the irrational Anti-Semite’s passion which is driven by love for his race and jealousy of the Jew. The Anti-Semite chooses to be impenetrable without consideration of different options.
Sartre believes that the Anti-Semite gains strong conviction because he prefers to be “impervious to reason”. The Anti-Semite’s view on life is distorted by his impenetrability. Through his life, the Anti-Semite believes that his beliefs are rational and even valid. His perception is effected; his hate for the Jew often consumes him. This consumption does not allow him to admit when he is wrong, or even consider other reasoning. His idea of others, besides those that belong to his race, becomes false. He begins to label others as inferior, evil, greedy, etc. These ideas are based on fear and misconceptions. He believes that all Anti-Semitic views are fact with no exceptions. This causes a distorted view on the human condition. Sartre believes that the Anti-Semite views himself as pure, without flaw. On the other hand, everyone else is mentally disturbed, physically incapable, and, as I stated before, evil.
Sartre states that the Anti-Semite differs from the “rational man” because of the rational man’s openness. The rational man is open to all ideas; he strives to gain more factual information to back his views. However, the Anti-Semite remains closed-minded and chooses to be ignorant to the fact that his beliefs are not valid. The rational man seeks information, and does not feel content until his quest for knowledge is over. The rational man is even “hesitant” when he states his ideas, or comes to conclusions. He realizes that there are other views on every subject, and he wants to contemplate over every possible idea that he is able to think of until he reaches his own. The “reasonable man” will even admit when he is proven wrong, and change his view. The Anti-Semite wishes not to change, and claims, even when proven wrong, that his beliefs are still of a valid and true nature.
Sartre believes the actual content of truth frightens the Anti-Semite. The idea of there being other views is ignored by the Anti-Semite. He chooses to remain “innate”. They want to come to a conclusion right away, and consider only the factors that benefit him.
Sartre blames the Anti-Semites ability to ignore reasoning and research on “emotional bias”. Through this emotional bias, he feels at ease because he is in a state of bliss; he feels as though he knows all he needs to know about life.
In conclusion, the Anti-Semite disregards any other ideas besides his own, and those of his “brothers”. Sartre states that the Anti-Semite is irrational, and incapable of being open to different and conflicting views. Sartre, also, states that this impenetrability is based on emotional bias and a passion for hatred. The rational man is able to accept and learn of new ideas, but the Anti-Semite will only consider the ideas that benefit and support his ideas, and he will actual disregard the fact that his ideas are based on stereotypes and racism. The Anti-Semite believes that the Jew is evil, and that it is his responsibility to rid the world of this evil.
If it is really true that “existence precedes essence,” and that “there is no difference between the being of man and his being free”, how is it possible for a human being to be oppressed and rendered un-free? If “man is freedom” why must we seek freedom?
To be free, one must, first, be a human being; one must be considered a human being. A little over a century ago, African Americans were not considered human. We were seen as animals, beasts. When the colonial man ventured into Africa, and began to enslave the natives, we were seen a property. We were placed in the same category as cattle. During those times we were seen as property, hence we were “un-free”, both physically and mentally. Now, if one is enslaved physically, he may still be considered free. He has the ability to mentally disenfranchise himself from his current surroundings. However, the slaves were mentally exhausted from constant abuse.
The white men made sure that our oppression would last. They actually made it illegal for slaves to learn. Now, if were beasts, why would they not make it illegal for cattle to learn? They lied to themselves! They knew that if we were enlightened we would be able to overcome oppression. Sartre believed that the “obstruction and rationality of a human being” could be achieved by subduing enlightenment. He also states that, “one cannot turn a human being into something else.” A person can be crippled intellectually, and his or her social consciousness is nonexistent.
Man is free, but some still fight for civil liberties. Some races are still kept down by racism and hatred. The Jew strives for racial equality because the Anti-Semite makes it hard for them to enjoy many fruits and luxuries of simple living. They do not achieve this by monetary means, but by mental and emotional means. The Anti-Semite teaches hate and inequality, which affects other races, also. Through racism and hate, they are able to hold the Jew and others behind. They are, also, able to turn them against one another. They are able to achieve this because we are fighting one another for the civil liberties and ontological freedom that the nation gives us. While we are fighting each other for the respect of the “white man’, we are not respecting ourselves. This is another way of keeping a people “un-free”.
Over the course of time, every race has known some form of slavery. Every one of those groups overcame their enslavement because they found ways of learning. Once a man is enlightened, he realizes his right to live as everyone else does. Freedom is first realized mentally, and then achieved physically. Sartre believed that humans are automatically free. However, if others, as well as himself, do not consider one human, then that person is “un-free”. People seek freedom today, however, it is a different freedom”. The freedom people seek today is freedom from racial inequality, and freedom from those irrational minds.
Why does Sartre consider Anti-Semitism to be a passion rather than mere opinion or an idea protected by the “right of free opinion”? What kind of passion is it? Does Sartre’s description of Anti-Semitic passions suggest any similarity to the racial antagonisms often found in the United States?
Jean-Paul Sartre considers Anti-Semitism to be a passion because anyone who dislikes or hates another person simply based on general conceptions that convey a certain overall description of that person or race as evil and greedy has to be passionate about his or her views. Sartre states, that an “opinion cannot be argued” because it is a belief carried on by a person or group. One must accept the fact that other people feel differently regarding the same subject. He believed the “opinions” of an Anti-Semite can be argued hence, it is not truly an opinion. Of course, these are Sartre’s beliefs.
Sartre believed that Anti-Semite’s beliefs are based on external causes, such as occupations and stereotypical personalities of Jewish people. The Anti-Semite draws statistical information on Jews, and compares the differences. The Anti-Semite, also, views such details as annual income of Jews and draws a conclusion that Jews are greedy.
Sartre, also, believes that the disturbed Anti-Semite actually has a passion for hatred; this hatred is directed towards the Jew. Sartre states, “ordinarily, this type of emotion is not very pleasant”. Sartre suggests that the Anti-Semite actually loves to hate. Generally, if you love something, you possess a passion to protect that object. So, the Anti-Semite will protect and defend his view of the Jew. Only a sick individual is capable of loving and embracing hatred. That hatred for the Jews is a driving force behind the Anti-Semite’s “passion”. An opinion is logical, but the Anti-Semite’s passion is not. The Anti-Semite expects people to accept and respect his “opinion”, but they are unable to respect another’s view.
I believe Sartre suggests similarity to the racial and antagonisms found in the United States. If the Anti-Semite dislikes the Jew because of external reasons as I stated before, then he must feel negatively towards such races as the Chinese and African American. The same type of racism the Jews face from the Anti-Semites, the African Americans face from any other race in America. The Anti-Semite believes he is superior, and that means he believes he is superior to any other race, also. Sartre remembers a comment stated by an Anti-Semite; “you see, there must be something about the Jew, they just upset me physically.” If one were to compare a Jew to an Anti-Semite, both physically and mentally, one would find it difficult to distinguish them. However, African Americans and Asians differ considerably, so they must upset the Anti-Semite tremendously. The Anti-Semite in America does not just discriminate against the Jews, but anyone outside of their race.
In conclusion, Sartre believes that the passion an Anti-Semite holds for hating the Jew could not be an opinion. According to Sartre, an opinion is reasonable and forthright. The Anti-Semite’s reasons for disliking a Jew are based on economic fear and beliefs of past Anti-Semitic leaders. The same hatred an Anti-Semite holds for a Jew, can be compared to a racist’s views on African Americans and other minority groups; the Anti-Semite’s beliefs and hatred, however, are more focused.
March 9, 2001
Dr. Robert E. Birt
Philosophy 220: Ethics and Values
MWF 4:00 p.m.
Sartre, Jean-Paul. Existentialism and Human Emotions. Kensington: New York, 1985.
Anti-Semite and Jew. Schoken Books: New York, 1995.
Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. Grove Press: New York 1967.