Sartre believed that one day man happened, or occurred, and
after this anomalous event man’s life took meaning. With this
theory, Sartre articulated the premise that “existence precedes
essence”. Through this assumption, Sartre evolves further ideas
in which a human can gain a greater understanding of human nature
In his theory stating that “existence precedes essence”,
Sartre takes the belief that life has a meaning that far
transcends our short and insignificant lives. He believed that
life has no meaning unless we gave it meaning. In the search for
life, we become anguished by the affairs of life. Sartre believed
that when this occurred, we pursue a fundamental project in an
attempt to flee this anguish. Sartre said that in this, we try
to make ourselves Gods in hopes that others will see us as
divine, and hold us in high or higher regard. To pursue a
fundamental project according to Sartre is to act in bad faith.
Consequently, to act in bad faith, according to Sartre is to
manifest our freedom inauthenticaly.
Sartre assessed how when man acknowledges and accepts that
he is a living being with a biological and social past. He can
transcend beyond that to nothingness, the realm of the etre pour
soi (the “being-for-itself”). At this point he is, according to
Sartre, clearheaded and in good faith. Because he is acting in
good faith, he is not pursuing a fundamental project in an
attempt to circumvent the possibility of anguish. The outcome of
this path of good faith is that man manifests his freedom
authenticates and ultimately this freedom is real.
Those who do not act clear headed will inevitably fall into
anguish; which is what is felt by those who cannot except that
they come from the realm of the etre en soi (realm of the
“being-in-itself”) and therefore make attempts to deny their
past. In an attempt to flee their past and the anguish that can
accompany it, Sartre believed that some will pursue a fundamental
project. To do this is to act in bad faith.
In No Exit the character Garcin is a clear cut example of an
individual acting in bad faith in an attempt to flee anguish. In
the play, Garcin is placed in a room to face hell with two other
people, Estelle and Inez. The character Garcin is in this hell
after being shot for fleeing his country after the breakout of
war. Prior to the war, Garcin was the editor of a pacifist
newspaper. When he defied war, he was shot. Although he was
defiant he chooses to think of himself as a hero and a martyr.
As the story evolves, the character Inez forces Garcin to admit
that he is not a hero, and that he did in fact, act cowardly.
Garcin then pursues a fundamental project to flee the anguish
that accompanies being labeled a coward. He...