The Concept of ‘Bad Faith’ in the Philosophy of Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre was the French philosopher and a versatile thinker and writer. He is today known for two systematic and extraordinary works in the field of philosophy. Besides these two phenomenal works- ‘Being and Nothingness’ and ‘Critique of Dialectical Reason’- Sartre developed some shorter philosophical versions including; several screenplays, plays, and novels; essays on art and literary criticism; short stories; an autobiography; scores of journalistic and political writing; and original and distinctive biographies of different writers. In the post-World War Two period, Sartre is regarded as one of the most famous philosophers with a large audience across the world. Sartre was the key representative of ‘existentialism’: a major philosophical movement that continued to dominate intellectual life especially in Europe in the decades of 1940s and 1950s. Understanding the concept of bad faith means to comprehend the existentialist philosophy of Sartre. The concept of bad faith forms the basis of his moral psychology. Also, bad faith continued to remain main theme throughout Sartre’s philosophical works. The concept emphasizes that bad faith, similar to all our attitudes, determines the manner in which the world and every person within it appears. Bad faith shapes all our beliefs, views, and actions specifically as agents in the world. In this context, the paper will discuss the concept of bad faith as included in the philosophy of Sartre.
Sartre- in ‘Being and Nothingness’- explains human relations basically as an opposition of Other and self. The Other interferes into the world of consciousness that is confronted with the anguished, fearful, and shameful identification of its own being and evidences the existence of an unfamiliar or strange consciousness. The for-itself reaffirms itself as a theme by objectifying the Other as such; launching a perpetual cycle of masochism and sadism (Webber, 2010).
For Sartre, two different ontological categories exist in the world; first is human beings and second everything else. These two terms are introduced by Sartre to denote the mode or type of being each of these categories has; ‘being in-itself’ and ‘being for itself’. Sartre calls humans a ‘being for-itself’. He narrates everything else- pebbles, trees, cows, and likewise- have a being in-itself.
Sartre asserts humans are unique in the world that they possess a consciousness different to everything else. He also regards consciousness is directed specifically towards an object. It is thus evident that consciousness not only separates humans from others but also the human from itself. It is a person’s lack of identity with itself due to which bad faith becomes possible. This characteristic of human being is termed by Sartre as “the double property” possessed by the human beings (Detmer, 1988).
Bad faith is an unwanted phenomenon which Sartre believed was widespread and common among...