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60068Re: [existlist] Not naughty faith but wrong faith

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  • eduardathome
    Jul 15, 2013
      Mary just does not understand the difficulty here.

      “Their being what they are not and their not being what they are”.”

      That doesn’t answer the question of what it is of which they are paralysed and thus unable to choose. One can’t choose ... “being what they are not and not being what they are. At most it would be considered a realisation. It’s not a choice.

      But my main objection is the almost arbitrary way of identifying “bad faith”. Mary repeats the material I previously provided, but she is not looking at it closely to see how easily Sartre’s idea of bad faith [as presented] breaks down.

      Firstly, I doubt that Sartre would have ignored a waiter who was acting non-chalantly. He wanted an example, and this particular waiter served [so to speak]. Because the waiter seemed [to Sartre] to act too waiter-esque, Sartre brands him with label of bad faith. But that is an assumption on the part of Sartre. Sartre could have bypassed the assessment of the waiter’s behaviour and simply said ... “there is a person of bad faith”. It would have as much validity. To some other observer, the waiter might be seen as acting naturally. So bad faith for the waiter is really a matter of assumptions which may be baseless. And even there it is weak considering that perhaps the waiter views his “playing” of waiter is something that should be done in that fashion. It may have absolutely nothing to do with being paralysed with an inability to choose ... sorry, inability to realise.

      But the worst of it is Sartre’s statement that ... “The good speaker is the one who plays at speaking because he cannot be speaking. This literally means that, like the café waiter, the speaker is not his condition or social categorization, but is a speaker consumed by bad faith”.

      This is particularly senseless. Sartre doesn’t even get into such assumptions that the speaker is being a bit too speaker-esque. The speaker is said to be “consumed” by bad faith simply because he/she is a good speaker. Like I said before, that would likely cover the 350,000 ministers in the US alone.

      Mary has not been able to explain bad faith. So far it appears to be something that is evidenced by someone being a bit too precise or eager in their job, or simply because they happen to be good at their job. I can appreciate that there may be such a thing as bad faith, but that’s not it.

      It is interesting to note Sartre’s statement, "I am never any one of my attitudes, any one of my actions". So although Sartre feels free to label others with bad faith because of “their” attitudes, he would object if someone were to say “he” had bad faith because he happens to be a bit too “author-esque”.


      -----Original Message-----
      From: Mary
      Sent: Monday, July 15, 2013 12:23 PM
      To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [existlist] Not naughty faith but wrong faith

      --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eduardathome <yeoman@...> wrote:
      > “They are avoiding choice; they are paralyzed by their being unable to choose”
      > If that is the case, then specifically what is it that they are unable to choose??

      Their being what they are not and their not being what they are.

      > That’s the first question. The second question is ... How can Sartre conclude that the waiter is paralyzed by being unable to choose, simply from observing that he is behaving in a “waiter-esque” manner.

      Because he is making a caricature of himself. Being for-itself is not that which it is and that which it is not.

      I understand eduard's objection to involve that of choice. Yes these 'examples' are aware they are acting and choosing to play a part. However this, which I believe is Sartre's point, is not the self-deception. What constitutes bad faith is defining oneself in terms of a role. If the waiter were naturally, non-chalantly, and conscientiously performing a waiter's tasks, Sartre wouldn't have noticed the role playing. What role playing points to is the possibility of not identifying with the role and to the possibility of not role playing at all, of being authentic. Sartre isn't condemning or singling out anyone for bad behavior; he simply says this is our condition which we should escape in order to realize the possibilities of existence. Do we really need to believe we *are essentially* our roles in order to act? No, not if we wish to shape our existence. No one is the essence of their formal identity; one is not what one is. According to Sartre we should shape our existence—to be what one is not. What you believe about your possibilities, rightly or wrongly, determines who you will be.

      The Wikipedia entry on Bad Faith which eduard provided explains it adequately.

      ~Bad faith (or "self-deception") can be understood as the guise of existing as a character, individual, or person who defines himself through the social categorization of his formal identity. This essentially means that in being a waiter, grocer, etc., one must believe that their social role is equivalent to their human existence. Living a life defined by one's occupation, social, racial, or economic class, is the very essence of "bad faith", the condition in which people cannot transcend their situations in order to realize what they must be (human) and what they are not (waiter, grocer, etc.). It is also essential for an existent to understand that negation allows the self to enter what Sartre calls the "great human stream". The great human stream arises from a singular realization that nothingness is a state of mind in which we can become anything, in reference to our situation, that we desire.

      The difference between existence and identity projection remains at the heart of human subjects who are swept up by their own condition, their "bad faith". An example of projection that Sartre uses is the café waiter who performs the duties, traditions, functions, and expectations of a café waiter:

      "[W]hat are we then if we have the constant obligation to make ourselves what we are if our mode of being is having the obligation to be what we are? Let us consider this waiter in the café. His movement is quick and forward, a little too precise, a little too rapid. He bends forward a little too eagerly; his voice, his eyes express an interest a little too solicitous for the order of the customer. Finally there he returns, trying to imitate in his walk the inflexible stiffness of some kind of automaton while carrying his tray with the recklessness of a tight-rope-walker by putting it in a perpetually unstable, perpetually broken equilibrium which he perpetually re-establishes by a light movement of the arm and hand. All his behavior seems to us a game. He applies himself to changing his movements as if they were mechanisms, the one regulating the other; his gestures and even his voice seems to be mechanisms; he gives himself the quickness and pitiless rapidity of things. He is playing, he is amusing himself. But what is he playing? We need not watch long before we can explain it: he is playing at being a waiter in a café. There is nothing there to surprise us."

      Sartre consistently mentions that in order to get out of bad faith, one must realize that their existence and their formal projection of a self are distinctly separate and within the means of human control. This separation is a form of nothingness. Nothingness, in terms of bad faith, is characterized by Sartre as the internal negation which separates pure existence and identity, and thus we are subject to playing our lives out in a similar manner. An example is something that is what it is (existence) and something that is what it is not (a waiter defined by his occupation).

      However, Sartre takes a stance against characterizing bad faith in terms of "mere social positions". Says Sartre, "I am never any one of my attitudes, any one of my actions". The good speaker is the one who plays at speaking because he cannot be speaking. This literally means that, like the café waiter, the speaker is not his condition or social categorization, but is a speaker consumed by bad faith. Thus, we must realize what we are (beings who exist) and what we are not (a social/historical preoccupation) in order to step out of bad faith. Yet, existents (human beings) must maintain a balance between existence, their roles, and nothingness to become authentic beings.

      Additionally, an important tenet of bad faith is that we must enact a bit of "good faith" in order to take advantage of our role to reach an authentic existence. The authentic domain of bad faith is realizing that the role we are playing is the lie. To live and project into the future as a project of a self, while keeping out of bad faith and living by the will of the self is living life authentically.

      One of the most important implications of bad faith is the abolition of traditional ethics. Being a "moral person" requires one to deny authentic impulses (everything that makes us human) and allow the will of another person to change one's actions. Being "a moral person" is one of the most severe forms of bad faith. Sartre essentially characterizes this as "the faith of bad faith" which is and should not be, in Sartre's opinion, at the heart of one's existence. Sartre has a very low opinion of conventional ethics, condemning it as a tool of the bourgeoisie to control the masses.

      Bad faith also results when individuals begin to view their life as made up of distinct past events. By viewing one's ego as it once was rather than as it currently is, one ends up negating the current self and replacing it with a past self that no longer exists.~



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