Does Privilege Matter? – 8-Bit Philosophy

Does Privilege Matter? – 8-Bit Philosophy


Imagine, if you will, that a warrior named
Firion is seeking vengeance for losses suffered at the hands of an evil Emperor. But his friend
Leon comes from a much wealthier family, can afford nicer weapons, and can hire out
a large army to support his mission. Firion might be tempted to tell Leon, ‘Dude, check
your privilege.’ But, Leon didn’t choose to be born
into wealth, why then should he apologize for it? According to existentialist Jean Paul Sartre, we’re thrown into the world as part of a particular
culture, religion, language, and socio-economic status without any say in the matter. These
are the features of what Sartre calls our facticity—the individual parts of ourselves that we’re
born with. And although we have no control over our facticity—we
are always free to choose our relation to the world that we live in. This freedom is
just part of the human condition. We define our existence by determining our purpose
in life—we make our life our own particular project—things have value only in the frame
of the project that we freely create. In his colossal work Being and Nothingness
Sartre uses several examples to illustrate humanity’s radical freedom. To Sartre, even a prisoner is radically free.
He can choose to attempt an escape, he can choose to restructure his purpose in life
given his incarceration, or he can choose to end his life—the fact that he’s locked
up isn’t what restricts his freedom, rather it’s his choice to believe, given his situation,
that he is un-free. Because the prisoner’s own created goal in life resides outside the prison It’s not the physical bars that cause him anguish. It’s in his unwillingness to conform his goal in life to his current situation You see, freedom is only ever experienced
by each particular person in the context of their own project, their own ends, and their
own understanding of the world. Firion could compare his ragged armor and
motley crew to Leon’s disciplined battalion and shining plate mail but it has nothing
to do with Firion’s goal for himself. Each person is their own free project with their
own situation—their own personal quest. Because Leon has more at his disposal than
Firion doesn’t mean that Leon is freer—both are free to construct their own ends. As such
there is no superior life situation because there is no metric to decide who has the best
way to make meaning in their lives. There isn’t a way to determine who has the best
life plan. For Sartre, it means that facticity, or a
person’s material situation doesn’t constitute privilege—we are all radically free to create
meaning. And that is what matters. But then again, should we really look to a
rich white man to be an authority on privilege?

100 Comments on "Does Privilege Matter? – 8-Bit Philosophy"


  1. Privilege matters when you look outside an individual's life and look at how it affects the species or country. For example, I have an idea for a new, but non-intuitive, bio-technology that could aid people for generations. I can't get a job in the field because I can't compete with the privileged people who could work for free for years to build up their resumes. I can't create a poor-man's biopunk lab and do it on my own because, even though I work more than full time and work hard, I'll never be able to afford a house or land, so I have no space or time to do the work. As a result, this technology (if it worked) will be denied to mankind, possibly forever. However, if I had privilege, I could develop it. When privilege is entirely in the hands of the most useless people in society, not only does it create problems, but it actively prevents those problems from being solved. So yes, it matters. No one rich genius is going to come along and solve the world's problems when all the geniuses have to spend all their time mopping floors, driving trucks, and flipping burgers.

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  2. I wish these videos were a LOT longer. Feels like there is so much more to say about each topic, philosophy.

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  3. You have broadened the definition of the word 'free' to a point where it almost means nothing. A prisoner, as well as a slave, is only as free as his/her society allows. They may be free to CONTEMPLATE escape, however, that may be an impossible feat. Even if successful in escape. is said person still 'free' to live his/her life as they so choose? The slave/prisoner may CONTEMPLATE a change of lifestyle, but exactly how 'free' are they, in a society that aims to recapture and re-incarcerate?

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  4. Privilege, or lack thereof, has less to do with how you wish to interpret reality and live your life, but instead has to do with the ability to do so. A rich person could apply for a prestigious university, get accepted, and study at that university without having to complete any scholarship to do so. A poor person has the same capabilities to apply to this university, complete a scholarship, and receive other financial aid, yet still not be able to pay tuition. This is what privilege means. Now, the way this transitions into debate is less clear. If I was a rich person, I could debate with a poor person, and no side inherently gets any advantage in any way. However, if we are speaking about an economic issue, specifically one that deals with poverty, the argument inherently, and should, favor the poorer side. It's a matter of experience. It's the same thing with race issues. And let me be clear: I'm not saying that white people are unable to participate in these discussions. But when privilege is concerned, people with the experience, the people who are not privileged, should be taken more into account than those without the experience.

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  5. The 'rich white man' concept is intellectual imperialism.
    which would be another good topic to delve into…

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  6. It's like when wealthy white manhattanites wondered why poor black people don't love the idea of stop and frisk then got offended when people asked them to look outside of their bubble.

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  7. This show is the best, the world needs philosophy and this is a beautiful way to present it. Good on you chaps!

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  8. 1:55 I will never achieve my dream of becoming a master sand castle maker in prison. Never! The fact that he's locked up isn't what restricts his freedom, it's his choice to believe he's unfree. It's his unwillingness to conform his goal to his current situation. Such a good video. 2:06 is also my fave.

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  9. It seems to me like while privilege does exist, it's more complex than just economic privilege. That is an important type, but I think that anybody who is fundamentally barred from something that others would have access to in life is not privileged, or at least, not situationally. For example, even if a person grew up with a ton of money, if they had Cancer from early childhood, so they were never able to leave the hospital to go to school, or work, or lead a normal life, I wouldn't consider them to be privileged, likewise, somebody who suffered brain damage in early childhood, or was born with a severe developmental disability would not be privileged regardless of their family's economic background, if they aspire to pursue a career that is made impossible by their condition. Basically, if you have a goal that a large amount of humans can complete, (i.e. not something impossible or unreasonable,) and that is legal, and are prevented by a force outside of your control, you are not privileged in my opinion.

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  10. So, because, according to Sartre, everyone is radically free, we shouldn't even care about ending slavery, for example. A slave is as free as his "master", so why try to change that? It's not like the "master" has any privilege or has, in any way, a better, freer life. No, "we are all radically free to create meaning, and that is what matters."
    In fact, we don't need to worry about anything at all, we have perfect lives.

    Thanks, Sartre, for proving that all social progressive movements are useless. Now, excuse me while I go vote for Trump and masturbate at Jordan Owen's voice while reading Atlas Shrugged as my video about how Anita Sarkeesian is literally Hitler finishes uploading.

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  11. privilege doesn't matter it's how you use what your given after all a poor man who goes on a killing spree will in most cases be less than a rich man who donates 50% of his wealth to charity or vice versa

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  12. Privilege and money do NOT guarantee "good decisions".
    Money, in itself, is a useless piece of germ ridden paper, and ONLY has power because of the value that is placed upon it. You can be poor but still have good morals, ethics and sound judgements.
    There ARE many folks born into the privileged society who ARE good at heart and have social consciences
    Of value, but there are some who are afflicted with the insatiable need and greed to acquire "more".
    This greed IS a form of Mental illness that can NEVER be satisfied.
    Namaste my friends.

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  13. Of course it's a well educated rich white male who argues privilege doesn't matter. But as a counterpoint, what if person A and person B had come to the same goal/purpose? Does the man outside the prison who wishes to build sandcastles not have better means than the man inside the prison? Does he who is outside not have more freedom? I won't point out the flaw in the allegory that a man in a prison is likely their as punishment for a crime he committed (but then again, it's not like a person of colour has ever been put in prison or given a harsher sentence just because they're a person of colour rolls eyes) which influences one's subjective perception of the situation.

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  14. Oversimplified bs with an added strawman to make it easy to swallow. Sure, some would say "you should apologize for your privilege", but people also say "you have privilege, join us in our quest to make the world a less agonizing place". How can one ask why an individual should apologize for privilege without asking why one should suffer for not having it? Its not addressing the reality of freedom, but using the concept of freedom to deduce the harsh reality of the unfortunate to simple choices that arent simple to make with little resources. Libertarian garbage this is.

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  15. While the convictions of the individual matter, we can't take 100% of accountability for our experiences. Lots of factors that which other people control dictate what our experience will be like.

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  16. What about what Amartya Sen says? He has a completely opposite view. Liberty is determined by the capacities one has, so in his view privilege does interfere with liberty. If one does not have the economic or political means, one is not really free to exercise his freedom.

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  17. This actually doesn't mean much coming from a rich white male philosopher. It's like asking a bank owner whether interest on loans is a good thing

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  18. THANK YOU for mentioning that bit at the end. There's no real right or wrong with a lot of philosophy in my opinion, so it's best to remain objective, but being that I am black it's hard for me not to be biased against old white dudes.

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  19. some have the choice to move to africa, where all have same skin tone, wich some say it s all that matters (blm) still they don't . i wonder why.

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  20. Wow, another video showing how existentialism is a desperate attempt try to claim free-will and find meaning in a worldview without God.

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  21. The thing about "check your privilege" is you shouldn't use it every time you notice someone else's privzizzle, you should point it out when they're being absolute jerks about it. Otherwise it becomes just another overused buzzword.

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  22. The funny thing is the thing with the prison actually fits well into eastern religious/philosophy.

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  23. The primary flaw that I see here is that while all walks of life are radically free, those from privileged upbringings are free to succeed in more purposes. While yes all people can choose their own purpose, those with privilege can have accomplishing many different purposes be a reasonable goal, whereas many purposes would be hopeless to one who is less privileged.

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  24. "we are free to create meaning and that's what matters" meaning doesn't put millions of dollars in my account or give me any whore I want

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  25. I'm really not getting this philosophy. The example "The prisoners freedom is restricted not by the physical prison but buy his unwillingness to conform his goal to his current situation" seems to directly contradict his argument. The very fact the prisoner is forced to conform his goals to his current situation if he wants to have an achievable goal is in itself a reduction in freedom. The person outside the prison is free to do any of the same options as the person inside the prison, as well as many more. Freedom consists in number of possible achievable options. "There is no metric to decide who has the best way to make meaning in their lives" but we can in principle count who has the most options for ways of making meaning and thus who has more freedom.
    Freedom consists not just in the ability to create "meaning", but also to choose how to. It is abundantly obvious that a slave is not free, though using this videos definition he could be.

    The prisoner can choose to try to escape, but the success of such an attempt may be beyond his control.

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  26. The fact that my analysis is on track with yours makes me happy to know that I am heading in the right direction

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  27. By this logic slaves should have been happy with their own "project" and were not more or less free than anyone else. That is an absurd statement. People with power have more ways to exercise their freedom and more control over their individual project. I haven't read Being and Nothingness, but knowing about Sartre and his political opinions I highly doubt he meant for his existential work to be applied to social economical situations. Freedom on the existential level and freedom on the political level are two entirely different things.

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  28. Yeah, and after realizing that being born into privilege usually helps making meaning in life, and that what is facticity to and individual can be a simple variable to a society waiting to be changed – Sartre became a Marxist

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  29. Unprivileged individuals can sometimes have the advantage of independence and ambition compared to a privileged individual who may be dependent and used to having everything handed to them. The privileged person may never make anything significant of themselves while the underprivileged person may work hard and strive to make something of themselves. This is just hypothetical and highly dependant on the individual's upbringing and environment they live in.

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  30. So because you have options, even tho you don't have nearly as many of them as someone who is privileged, it means that privilege doesn't matter? It does, this world is not fair but so many people will go to weird stretches of the imagination to pretend that it actually is, privilege obviously matters in multiple ways

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  31. If this was explained through a phenomenological framework maybe the concept of 'lived experience' would better suit the understanding of what privilege is. It's not about having a 'better off life' this is fairly misguided definition about privilege in the context of critical race theory, society, or class. I'd call this a sub-101 explanation but nothing that would wreck my mind. At least the video looks cool. Satre was a cool dude tho, he did advocate for the rights of 'underprivileged' groups tho.

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  32. but someone who was born rich woundnt be able to have more joy in his life?
    or woundnt his plan of life be able to be more joyfull than the plan of people with less previlege?

    maybe "check your priveledge" comes from the people who were born with certain previlege thinking that people who have more privilege dont recognize that they can do or see if they can do, more than someone with less privelege can.

    or maybe is just being angry at the lottery of life since no one chose to play and now have deal what they got, what you got is everything you have and will ever have, i think that we may define how good or bad we got by comparing with what other people got, so when i compare what i got with what someone else got, it would make sense for me to be angry if what i got is not as good as what he got maybe we feel like that because we think we could be better than them but we cant see if we are better and we think that if we are better we should in a fair world be in a better situation than them but we cant see if we are better or not.

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  33. Wow, the last question ruins the message of the video completely. How can one contradict oneself so relentlessly??

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  34. Why is the white male seen as privileged? They are a minority, they have invented most of our technologies, they work to keep society up and risk their lives fighting for their country.

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  35. Man what a pile of bull. I'm guessing Sartre was never in prison, or ever struggled with being poor, or being a minority. You know how that saying goes "to a man with privilege equality feels like oppression." Also you can change your nationality, and your religion, and to even some extent your wealth. The only 1 of those things you're born with that won't change is your skin color. And that must be what he meant by ethnicity, because Caucasian is not an ethnic group. It's just a blanket term for white people. Unless I suppose you're actually from the Caucuses.

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  36. The problem with this is that given the choice no one ever chooses to be in jail or to be in poverty.I mean the same argument could be made for being a slave I mean by this argument if you're a slave

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  37. Seriously. For all those people hung up on the last line, like that was the end argument, Sartre was in Paris while it was OCCUPIED BY THE GOD DAMNED NAZI'S…. He WAS a prisoner yo…

    And again, his wife was Simone de Beauvoir, one of the first feminist philosophers, and SHE based a lot of her works on his…

    Soooo… yeah. There's that part that's being forgotten.

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  38. This vid surprises me. usually dope and on the head, but this one is based on one (opinionated) philosophical perspective. …We are NOT always free to choose the relation to the world which we live in. Facticity precludes those choices. But that is not what "privilege" is even about.

    Privilege is about
    1) families who came from old wealth, whether off the backs of slave labor, bankers, or royalty and their offspring who perpetuate a sense of entitlement, superiority and strategic socio-economic advantage in finance and politics.

    2) SYSTEMIC & IMPOSED OPPRESSION targeted at specific groups of people to UNDERMINE them in order to give the socio-economic advantage (or privilege) to that said oppressor and those advocating for that system. Not to say you can't rise from nothingness, but some definitely have more resources or advantage over others.

    …You also blame the victim by the person imprisoned scenario -again imposed oppression.
    Justice is rarely ever "just" in these typse of socio-pathic cultures.
    Laws are also used to give socio-economic advantage to some over others.

    You are not advocating facts based on true research behind oppression and how it destroys/exploits certain groups of people to establish their own greed. This video is pure opinion. Love your other vids tho.

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  39. But we live in a system that is almost impossible to break without big consequences… if not impossible, and a system that is very good on making you believing on it… so yeah, meritocracy is bullshit…

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  40. Check your privilege doesn't mean to apologise for it. It means remember that you have had a specific set of circumstances, which is particular to you, and other people have not had the same opportunities that you did, or the power your did to be able to make changes to their circusmtance. Therefore, you should question the claims people make about their life simply because it is alien to your experience.

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  41. So basically– if you live under shitty circumstances, just lower the standards on what your goal in life should be? That seems like a terrible idea.

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  42. Are the principles of Existentialism violated if one asserts that, while people are not born a specific essence, the are born with the inclination towards certain struggles to find meaning? For example, the artist who, from a very young age, can effortlessly imagine their masterpiece; Is that not part of their facticity? If it is indeed part of their facticity, then I believe that brings up some problems.

    Imagine two artists. One goes to an art school where they have access to tremendous creative resources. The other goes to a cell where they are beaten if they engage in any kind of artistic activity. If it is the inclination of both to want to find meaning through creating art, then I find it hard to say that they are free to choose a different struggle. I am no more free to choose my struggle than I am free to choose my race or socio-economic status.

    I think that passion is, to a certain extent, intrinsic to people. Does that belief contradict Existentialism in any substantial way?

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  43. Is this not a problem though when we consider two people (one privileged and one not) when they both have the same goal for a certain time period? Since the privileged person has access to more goods and money, they could take riskier but more rewarding avenues of success and fall back upon a stockpile of wealth if they fail. Contrast that with the one less privileged and they must take a much slower and safer route to do as such. They could attempt the risky route, but they would end up penniless/ in debt for the rest of their life.
    I would assume the next course of action for the radically free non privileged person would be to start over from square 1. Yet, this could take them their whole life to accomplish and could just fail another time.
    TL;DR Wouldn't the privileged person get more/faster chances to be successful, and thus have a higher probability of succeeding?

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  44. great video wisecrack!! but in response to the question at the end of the video: no, we shouldn't just trust ONE person's perspective on privilege. rather we should hear what Sartre has to say but should also welcome another voice e.g. Angela Davis or Audre Lorde into the discussion. we tend to think that only one person/ideology has it figured out for everyone but that's not the case and we can point out flaws with Sartre's argument but should fill in those flaws with new, more nuanced understanding because he's not all wrong. thank you again for great, provocative material. I check in daily! keep up the great work and I would love to see a video on a synthesized philosophy rather than one view on a topic! 🙂

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  45. So, we are not suppose to criticize the "starting stat" of the player?

    Since all players have difference "starting stats", their "end game" are not suppose to be the same – radical factor is the "choice/freedom" each individual chosen.

    i guess i am not angry with "privilege people", my anger might comes from we are fundamentally unrelate able; and conflict is there. And more towards, envy.

    A man who yearn to build a functional water well & a man who yearn to turn his water into sparkling drinks. Both have goals in their life; but a man might anger at the other man due to value comparison of their "end goal" instead of related only to his "starting stat".

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  46. privilege is an illusion with power limited to what the individual defines it to be. Ben Carson was born into poverty in Detroit to a single mother. He then grew up to be the top neurosurgeon in the world.

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  47. Googly-eyed Sartre really dropped the ball on this one. I understand what he is trying to say, but his "optimistic" insights on privilege don't really mean shit

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  48. Uh, I think the point of privilege is understanding that by having privilege, it could blind you to the struggles and circumstances without. Like white people choosing to use the n-word, they could justify it through your video and I think you would agree that would be a nonsensical justification, and why? Because privilege DOES matter in so far as it defines relations between people with differing amounts of it.

    If we're talking about a vacuum and the two individuals basically are just ships passing each other in the fog sure; but often they are not, the rich white man could be a politician or supporting a politician to insure he can have gated communities and his taxes low to the detriment of the many many people born poorer; but then justifying it along the lines of "Look, I only make 600,000$ a year, I'm barely middle class!" That's incredibly blind and invites the guillotine.

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  49. I would argue, that religion is NOT part of one's facticity because because it is possible to change on's beliefs throughout life to the point of converting to a different religion, or become non-religious, or ,as a born atheist, become religious.

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  50. you would have lost a subscriber if you hadn't added that last line. just saying.

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  51. This can be known as existential solitude.
    Thinking a person is one thing. But knowing different

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  52. Right, the fact is the choice
    Even within the confined space.
    Caveat being somehow. Whether anyone cared.

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  53. There is also a really good crash course
    Philosophy on existentialism itself. That
    May clear up ambiguities.

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  54. This is what makes sandbox RPGs both fun to play
    And disturbing as all heck fire.

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  55. I was born a twin, one boy one girl. On our 18th birthday, my sister proudly registered to vote and bought a lottery ticket. I did those things too, but one thing extra: I signed my draft card.

    There are a lot of white males in America. Most have and will never achieve high political power or economic wealth despite their alleged "privilege" or the alleged "patriarchy". In fact, most will endure extreme hardship, and rather than be given empathy they will be demonized, censored and treated terribly for the sex and race they were born with.

    For some, it is impossible to make sense of one's own suffering without blaming an entire collective group for your ills, be it Jews, whites, blacks, men, women, etc. Telling someone to "check their privilege" is not an offhand or harmless statement; It is meant to censor and belittle those who have perspectives that conflict with your own – a perspective that should instead be listened to and judged on the position's merit, not on the race or sex of the individual expressing the position.

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  56. hey, just because you cant put food on the table doesnt mean youre any less free! you still have the choice to die or scrape by with a low-paying job to barely not die! just choose to value some goal that isnt keeping yourself alive and able to MAKE choices! 🙂

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  57. This feels not very thought out and completely ignores that we operate in context, not just direct comparisons – also seems to act as if the word privilege is used as some sort of insult, when really it's usually only pointed out because the privilege has been weaponized

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  58. This video is jut a three minute kafka-trap. It's the second video I've seen from this channel. It's also going to be the last.

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  59. Thank you! I came to a close conclusion my self but having Sartre describe it for you is way better. Altough i wouldnt add religion on facticity-

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  60. Bottom line: Freedom is choice. That choice is relative. Wealth affords resources, which allows more choices, and thus more freedom. The question then, is whether you use it, abuse it, or take it for granted. Even those who are born with limited choices can use those choices to carve out greater resources for themselves to expand their realm of choices, perhaps in friends, allies, or simply strategic or lateral moves that free you from the bonds of your current situation. I believe that a person should be judged not based on their facticity, but relative to it, based on their choices and accomplishments, either aided by the circumstances they were born into, or what they have done with their life despite them. For instance, it is much more impressive to me if an inner city kid graduates at the top of his class at harvard, than it is if a rich kid with harvard parents and nepotism on his side did so. In either case, credit is owed to each of them, but the amount of credit is relative to their facticity–their choices fill the space where facticity ends and their accomplishments begin.

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  61. Sartre also has an ethical view. While recognising that we all have that radical freedom, that ultimate choice of how we act given our current situation, he establishes that those born to privilege can choose either to uphold the unjust system that creates them or turn their own privilege towards the fight for a fair and egalitarian world. That is the central theme of "le diable et le bon Dieu". Goetz and his arc in the book exemplifies different radical free choices by a character who is a perfect example of privilege and power, and his final choice to put that to the service of a greater cause.

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  62. People should not have to apologize, but people who are wealthier should realize that being poor does not mean someone is lazy. It is also easier to live and pay bills when you have money. There are people who forget that wealth privilege exists, and that being white does not mean you will have wealth privilege. With wealth privilege comes power, and access to resources. Both SJWs and people on the right and far right forget this. Capitalists and Marxists also forget this at times.

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  63. Privilege is the inevitable result of freedom. As long as there are people more competent than others a free society will always end up with inequality and privilege.

    The real question is which is more important, equality or freedom?

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  64. I think it's too easy to say that how you see freedom makes your life more or less privileged.

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  65. The final question from the video narrator annoys me due to its lack of clarity: Was he implying that Sartre was a rich white dude?

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  66. El sentido de la vida es crear sentido. Todos somos libres de eso, por lo tanto es lo que importa.

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  67. You don't gain the option to have the relations to reality the privileged person has
    if you delude yourself, you're not radically free, you're just allegedly choosing to change what you want – so you can "work around" the obstacles the privileged person doesn't have, the less privileged one didn't choose to be born that way either

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  68. Yeah but one can achieve his or her meaning way more easily than the other, simply because most of the time, in order to achieve a goal, it has to be achieved through the medium of the physical and material world.

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