Sartre's Spirit of Seriousness and the Bad Faith of “Must-See” Tourism

in Sartre Studies International
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This article explores the Sartrean concept of the spirit of seriousness so as to better understand contemporary sightseeing tourism. Sartre's spirit of seriousness involves two central characteristics: the first understands values as transcendent, fixed objects, and the second—less acknowledged—understands material, physical objects as instantiating these transcendent values. I interpret the behavior of at least some contemporary tourists who travel to “mustsee” destinations as a subscription to both aspects of the spirit of seriousness and to a belief that the objects and destinations of tourist sites contain these transcendent, immutable values, such as “Art,” “Culture,” “Liberty,” etc. These “must-see” objects and destinations can thereby be understood to make “obligatory demands” of tourists, compelling them to visit. I argue that this serious mode of traveling to “must-see” sites is a form of Sartrean bad faith, as well as an evasion of the potential existential anguish that travel can evoke.

Sartre Studies International

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Existentialism and Contemporary Culture

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