Being-for-itself and the Ontological Structure

Can Being-for-itself Avoid Bad Faith?

in Sartre Studies International
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  • 1 Maria Theresa Barney Chair Emeritus of Philosophy, Denison University, Ohio, USA
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In this paper, I pay tribute to Jonathan Webber, one of the most dependable interpreters among recent Sartre scholars. I do so by challenging both him and Sartre on an issue that has long frustrated my work on Sartre. In short, Sartre contends that the For-itself’s desire to be (and to pursue) Being-in-itself-for-itself (i.e., God) is in bad faith. This raises two issues: (1) Is this desire to be ens causa sui part of the ontological structure of the For-itself? (2) If so, is bad faith an essential part of the human being? I contend that the desire to be the In-itself-for-itself is, on Sartre’s premises, part of the ontological structure of an existing human being (pour-soi). As our original flight from freedom and “fundamental project,” this constitutes bad faith’s “coming into the world,” and remains part of Being-for-itself’s “natural” disposition to bad faith.

Sartre Studies International

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Existentialism and Contemporary Culture

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