Jean-Paul Sartre - Problems with the Notion of Bad Faith

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Jean-Paul Sartre - Problems with the Notion of Bad Faith

In Being and Nothingness, Jean-Paul Sartre presents the notion of "bad

faith." Sartre is a source of some controversy, when considering this

concept the following questions arise. "Of what philosophical value is

this notion? Why should I attend to what one commentator rightly labels

Sartre's 'Teutonically metaphysical prose' (Stevenson, p. 253), in order

to drag out some meaning from a work so obviously influenced by Heidegger?

Is there anything to be gained from examining the philosophy of a thinker

who offers the statement 'human reality is what it is not and is not what

it is' as a grand philosophical truth claim about human ontology?" I

intend to contend that there is something of philosophical interest in the

notion of bad faith, primarily due to what Sartre is attempting to present

as being the constituents of human consciousness, and their relationship

to that which makes us human beings.

Jean-Paul Sartre is noted for his commitment to a radical view of human

freedom. His analysis of the human condition leads him to claim that,

since human beings do not possess an "essential nature" at birth, they

have to create their essence as individuals and they are "condemned to

freedom." As part of his investigation into "being-in-the-world, he

considers the notion of mauvaise foi or "bad faith", the denial of the

afore-mentioned freedom by its possessor. In this paper, I shall attempt

an investigation of the concept of bad faith, what it is, how it relates

to the rest of Sartre's phil...

... middle of paper ...

...ating Sartre's attitudes towards the constituents of human action, that which constitutes human being. Even though it may, in the final analysis, prove to be an unsatisfactory account of consciousness, it serves to illuminate some possible further lines of study, if only as a negative example.

Works Cited

Anderson, Thomas C. Sartre's Two Ethics: From Authenticity To Integral Humanism. Chicago & LaSalle, Illinois: Open Court, 1993.

Cumming, Robert Denoon, ed. The Philosophy Of Jean-Paul Sartre. New York: Vintage Books, 1965.

Oaklander, L. Nathan. Existentialist Philosophy: An Introduction. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1992.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. The Transcendence Of The Ego. New York: Hill & Wang, 1989.

Schlipp, Paul Arthur ed. The Philosophy Of Jean-Paul Sartre. The Library of Living Philosophers Vol. XVI, La Salle, Ill: Open Court 1981.

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