Labels or badges, so Appiah points out, collectively shape the way people conceive of themselves and their projects (Appiah 2003, pp. Quoting Hacking (1992), Appiah shows how “…numerous kinds of human beings and human acts come into being hand in hand with our invention of the categories labelling them”.4 Labelling has the harmful effect of imposing a set of committed criteria, which perpetuate a prejudiced ascription of collective identity, and involuntarily shape people’s actions, plans, projects and lives altogether (Appiah 2003, pp. Indeed, as Sartre put it, such collective identification has the effect of defining me in my “being-for-others”—I am put in a situation in which I become the Other-as-object; I become something I have not chosen to be (BN p.545).5 Sartre offers one of the most radical and challenging but also most sophisticated classical philosophical notions of freedom and its primacy over and above the facticity of situations.6 This pertains particularly to situations of collective identification.
503).1The question hence arises: How free are we from situations, particularly ones in which we are subject to collective identification?
More exactly, how free are we from the situations—places, environments, histories, others—that we inevitably belong to, and which subject us to collective identities?
In a way similar to Heidegger, Sartre’s phenomenology can be characterised as existential.
This means that the human subject is directed to objects because of the possibilities it takes objects to have within the framework of its own projects (BN p. A subject is free by choosing its own projects, thus by choosing what to make of its world and itself.
The term project is both a verb and noun and most basically refers to actions undertaken towards particular ends or possibilities.10 An example is a book project, the choice of the act of writing with the set possibility to complete a book.
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In its most general sense, a project encompasses life itself, including all our actions toward realising the possibilities of our choice.
This alternative, so I contend, puts the discussion of freedom on another plane—at least within the framework of phenomenology.“Much more than he appears to ‘make himself’ man seems ‘to be made’ by climate and the earth, race and class, language, the history of collectivity of which he is a part, heredity, the individual circumstances of his childhood, acquired habits, the great and small events of his life.”Sartre rejects both classical responses to the common-sense view—libertarianism and determinism.
He rejects both the idea that the will is infinite and therefore free to rule over circumstances and the notion that we are completely determined by circumstantial causes (BN pp. Sartre does not deny that freedom has circumstantial adversities; however, he argues that such adversities actually only arise because of the limits and ends that freedom itself posits.
This resembles in core Heidegger’s notion of a project as the projection of our “ownmost” possibilities, as described in (Heidegger 1962, 183ff, BN pp. Thus, one can say, it is by choosing our “ownmost” possibilities that we are free; however, our choices are not whimsical but embroil limits between options as framed by projects.
Sartre’s contention, that it is by choosing that we are free, does not mean that we choose to be free (p. This distinction is at the heart of Sartre’s phenomenology of freedom at the core of his monumental Sartre argues that freedom is not the product of choice, something we can choose to be or not to be, because it is rather a characteristic of what we are, as choosing conscious beings.