Down the Left Bank of the Seine:Life,Baseball and Jean-Paul Sartre

Following on from the huge public response (1 comment) to my blog entry on the D-Backs and the philosophy of Kant, the Arizona Head of Media Handling has asked me to extend the series with an entry on the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre. As Matt Williams said to me over the phone last night "We need to make people forget about the Dodgers series, and nothing gets the fan in the bleachers talking more than a hefty dose of existentialism".

Sartrealt So, at the risk of being portrayed as a media *****, here is a quick guide to Sartre’s philosophy through the medium of dance (I mean baseball).

Let’s start with the easiest-Existence precedes essence– or to put it another way "if you’re not in the line up then you’re not going to get a hit". Consider this quote "Why should I be involved? Isn’t it a matter of choice? And if I am compelled to be involved, where is the manager—I have something to say about this. Is there no manager? To whom shall I make my complaint?" No, it’s not Augie Ojeda complaining about his lack of playing time but a character from Kierkegaard’s page-turner "Repetition".Essentially life for the existentialist is like being in a baseball team without a manager or a front office or any organization at all, for example, the Kansas City Royals.

Values are subjective– every baseball fan knows this, the strike zone for the D-Backs is never the same as the strike zone for the opposition, our guy is always safe at home, their guy is always out.End of discussion.

Bad Faith– Sartre believed that people lied to themselves about themselves, and thus negated their true selves.For example, Chad Tracy tends to harbor the illusion that he can catch a baseball.He is lying to himself.He is in Bad Faith (not to be confused with the late 60’s super group Blind Faith).

The Gaze– Sartre said that if you stare hard enough at the back of the head of the guy in front of you he will eventually turn around.

Being for others– A crucial tenet of existentialism is the belief that people who cannot embrace their freedom seek to be "looked at". This phenomenon can be observed at Chase Field during the home wrecking sociological experiment called "kiss-cam" or the yet to be fully explained hysteria that causes large sections of the crowd to stand up and wave their Fry’s discount cards in the air (a controversial,soon to be published, study by Professor Erik Schmidt-Staubach of Berlin University is believed to claim that some of the people don’t even have Fry’s cards, they are doing it either for fun,for food, or because the "big screen told me to").

Responsibility for choices– Or as Sartre put it "we are condemned to be free" because we have to ultimately accept responsibility for the choices that we make. So if, for example, Chris Young got thrown out at third trying to turn a double into a triple, even though the third base coach was holding him at second, and thus costing his team a possible game winning run, his teammates would say to him "Hey Chris, you have just demonstrated that you are condemned to be free". And they would all laugh.

**** is other people– The Mexican wave.

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