Who was Sartre and should crypto care?
Jean-Paul Sartre was a French philosopher, novelist, playwright and activist. There are many accolades and titles not officially attributed to him because he would not accept awards, including the Nobel Prize.
Sartre was the father of existentialism. He believed that existence precedes essence. That we are born, and it is up to us to imbue our lives with purpose, but only if we choose to do so. Otherwise life is meaningless.
Sartre believed we are condemned to be free. We are free to live a life of nothing if we so choose. To get the most out of life, we should live authentically and be true to our essence. Meaning is given to life by you. If you follow someone else's path, it is a symptom of "bad faith"; a refusal to accept the "absurdity" of the world.
Sartre's refusal to accept the Nobel Prize was adherence to his own essence. It was being a good human by his own metric. He was the father of a philosophy that encouraged individuals to find their own meaning and follow their own path. "If I sign myself Jean-Paul Sartre it is not the same thing as if I sign myself Jean-Paul Sartre, Nobel Prizewinner." If you don't quite grasp Sartre's angle yet, this video might help:
What does this have to do with cryptocurrency? Satoshi Nakamoto was also nominated for a Nobel Prize and would have won, but unlike Sartre, he had not made his identity known. The body considered how they might award the prize to a pseudonymous individual. They suggested he could write his acceptance speech and put it online with his digital signature, but in the end he was deemed ineligible. Sartre might have been proud.
Bitcoin was proving to be a successful experiment, and the market value of the coins produced by the earliest mining had become quite large by the time he disappeared. Nevertheless, Satoshi willingly stepped away from his own creation. Years of dedicated work. He successfully launched a distributed system that encouraged participants to lean to no authority, and to bypass them whenever possible. And then he walked away quietly.
Might he have been an existentialist in some regard? While we cannot know for sure, his refusal to lead his own project, or accept any of the benefits it could have brought him personally, it's easy to assume he was. In stark contrast, lets consider the top 5 cryptocurrencies by "market cap". Who do we associate as the leader of each of these projects? How much control do they have in influencing the path of the network participants?
#1 - Bitcoin - Pretty decentralized by design, but there are a long list of growing concerns about a small group seizing control via censorship, stonewalling, hacking, and various other forms. These concerns culminated in users saying BCH PLS, and forking the Bitcoin network into a competing chain. #2 - Ripple - CEO, Brad Garlinghouse is now the richest person in the world. Enough said. #3 - Ethereum - The leader of Ethereum is indisputably Vitalik Buterin. Here's an important example of his authority over the network.
#4 - Bitcoin Cash - The aforementioned competing chain to Bitcoin Core/Segwit. The only one on the list without centralized leadership. They still don't have a set logo color or even a unified ticker symbol. #5 - Cardano. CEO of IOHK, Charles Hoskinson. Formerly of Ethereum. I don't know much about it though so lets do 6 #6 - Litecoin - Charlie Lee.
The point is, individual actors have a lot of influence over these projects, which is a bit antithetical to the purpose of Bitcoin in the first place, and also antithetical to what Sartre believed. It is interesting and notable that only Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash do not have a single Founder or CEO. If you continue down the list, you will find one project after another is ailed by the same thing.
"If I sign Craig Wright, it is not the same as if I sign Craig Wright, Satoshi." Many can not believe that Craig Wright was Satoshi in absence of cryptographic proof. They cannot comprehend why someone wouldn't want to be celebrated as Satoshi Nakamoto. If he indeed was Bitcoin's creator, he agreed with Sartre, and has given Bitcoin & Bitcoin Cash their strongest feature. One that no other project can easily replicate. Have a listen to what he said when asked about the Sartre post he made that many today refer to as "fake proof".
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