Love is Diabolical: Sartres Existentialist Love


Society is composed of human beings in convention with other human beings. Mankind as a whole can be defined through these relations. In fact at the individual level we come to realize a part of ourselves that exits only through our relations with other humans. Though experientially we only perceive our fellow humans as nothing more than objects in the world no different from the way we experience other objects such as a table, a computer a glass of beer etc. And on the grounds of these objects behind them we encounter the void of our own subjective consciousness yet realize an objective quality we own which is wholly alienate from our own experience. It is therefore that a relationship formed between human beings called romance. For Romantic love arose as a power struggle between this objectivity and subjectivity. For the lover desires that the world be revealed in terms of their beloved in order to escape from being just an object among a multitude of other objects and likewise the lover desires to become the absolute ends to their beloved and the key to revealing to them the world.

Paradoxically this supreme value with which we place upon the beloved in their own freedom can disintegrate at any given moment for none wish to be used as just an object towards an end but to be the end in itself. There is no definitive way to know absolutely the intentions or perceptions behind the other. This insecurity leads lovers to aim at possessing the object of ones love. However it is not so much the aim of the lover to control entirely the beloved but to unify consciousness with them. This is reminiscent of Platos symposium which painted the first humans as strange creatures possessing four legs four arms and two heads male and female genitalia. When the humans challenged the Gods Zeus cut them in half so that from that moment on their was aim forever was to find the other half which had been lost to them. Yet unified consciousness would transcend itself entirely diminishing the intrinsic freedom of the objective quality of the other which is necessary for ones process of self discovery. Therefore the goal of lovers becomes to make projects of themselves and to use a relationship as a catalyst for that self discovery. Aiming to possess entirely the beloved inevitably generates conflict for being loved due to obligation or subjugation and not for ones independence is entirely unfulfilling and inauthentic and non conducive to interdependent self realization.

So love inevitably leads to making a project of oneself to be the object loved. Yet in this project lovers can commit the atrocity of bad faith for one cannot make oneself into an object of love because lovers desire to share their romance in their own free will. Though neither party desires to be used the whole project is to convince the beloved they are not just a means to an end even though they really are.

In turn the process of love requires an act of seduction so the other, unbeknownst to them, be objectified by the seducer who attempts to capture the seduced in their state of freedom. The seducer wants the seduced to idolize them and for the seduced to realize their own void in consciousness through the idealization of the the seducer as a supreme object. The problem is that so often the seducer finds the same tactics by the other part.

To combat this power struggle one could very well adopt the place of a masochist to become completely submissive to the will and power of the other in order to displace the subjectivity as mere object and thus ensure the merger of consciousness. Yet still the utilization of the dominant party for these means results again in a transcendence over the dominator towards the subject.

As such sadistic control of the other does not disclose to the controller their objective existence. It merely utilizes the other as an object of desire. This merger of consciousness is indeed futile for no amount of love could ever close the endless abyss between subjectivities. Furthermore love can be problematic for more than not each party sees the other as fitting into some sort of ideal framework. So often do lovers misidentify the other to find that in their total exposure nakedness of true self that their beloved undermines these very ideals. Thus love is anxious and diabolical dance for who is to judge that the other, perhaps, does not perceive us as we perceive ourselves. Yet despite the various dangers of love men and women still find themselves in its throws. Completely oblivious to its outcome with no guarantee as to the future or to the extent of their lovers commitment. However if two are willing to brave the anxiety of coupling there t is possibility for intense discursive reflection for self discovery.

2 thoughts on “Love is Diabolical: Sartres Existentialist Love

  1. I don’t think you are explaining is love. Love is wonderful. Intense? yes but what would be the point other wise? For me I really didn’t believe love was a real thing other then a over all definition to sum up a hand full of feelings. I can say that love is a a true feeling that defines itself through eye opening experience with another person. A good relationship is base off of love not codependency. love is like having a really awesome friend that you know always has your back, or if they can’t at that time you understand why. Love doesn’t always mean being with one another. LOVE is about whats best for one another and benefiting from that.

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  2. That’s a really neat insight. I’m sure you’d appreciate that this is Sartres attempt at a sort of “Existential Psychoanalysis.”
    Sight, sound, smell, taste, tactile this is how we measure the world. We call them perceptions. These perceptions don’t necessarily obstruct an impermeable reality of essential forms like Plato talks about but disclose a reality within themselves. Their being is in being perceived, according to George Berkeley.
    When I look into your eyes you feel in my gaze that I am perceiving you. I own a part of your being totally unavailable to you. My experience of you is relative only to the perceptual information that I have about you. Now I could choose to conceptually disclose this being to you through language but you don’t know if I’m fabricating it or not.
    I also experience you as just an object in a world of other objects. But I know that this is how you experience me as well. My aim is to de-totalize myself from among this totality of objects called “Phenomena” by making as if I have de-totalized you, exalting you into my beloved. No matter what quality I give to you you are still only an object among other objects, we can’t unify consciousness. We are completely alone in subjectivity.

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