I argue that Jean-Paul Sartre’s treatment of bad faith and authenticity indicates not only that it is impossible for practical reasons to entirely avoid bad faith but also that authenticity itself entails a certain degree of bad faith. Although much
An Appreciation and Critique
Ronald E. Santoni
I wish first to acknowledge that many Sartre scholars have grappled with, even struggled with, Sartre's puzzling concept of ‘bad faith’ [ mauvaise foi ]. I, myself, have worked my brain and hand on it. And I have contended for over forty years
Matthew C. Eshleman and Ronald E. Santoni
Can violence ever be justified or is violence necessarily oppressive? Is self-defensive counter-violence or “revolutionary violence” aimed at human liberation, which Sartre defended, necessarily in bad faith? These questions form the crux of the debate between Matt Eshleman and Ronald Santoni. Is violence by nature Manichean, making the Other into an “object” and evil antagonist, and thus dehumanizing and oppressing the Other? Or can violence be liberatory when it is directed at oppressors? Both authors—but especially Eshleman, and Santoni reluctantly—agree that some forms of violence (such as self-defense) do not involve bad faith, but disagree about whether or when revolutionary violence can be justified.
Ronald E. Santoni
In a probing paper entitled "The Misplaced Chapter on Bad Faith, or Reading Being and Nothingness in Reverse," Matthew Eshleman challenges part of my intensive analysis of Sartre's "Bad Faith," arguing that bad faith is essentially a social phenomenon, and that social elements—the Other, in particular—play a "necessary role in making bad faith possible." Although I share many of Eshleman's interpretative points about the importance of the "social" in Sartre's account, I contend, here, with textual support, that Eshleman is too extreme, and slights the original bad faith to which human reality, in its very "upsurge" as consciousness or freedom, is "congenitally" (Spiegelberg) predisposed. My continued appeal to Sartre's concept of "initial," "fundamental," project, or "natural attitude" of consciousness to flee its freedom—what I have called ontological bad faith—becomes the crux of my critical counter-challenge to Eshleman's thesis.
Xavier O. Monasterio
Ronald Santoni’s book, Bad Faith, Good Faith, and Authenticity in Sartre’s Early Philosophy, has been long in the making. Indeed, Sartre’s views on bad faith and the issues related to it have constituted one of Santoni’s life-long philosophical interests, as evidenced by his article of more than twenty years ago.
Matthew C. Eshleman
It is a great honor that Ronald Santoni has offered such a carefully argued, and well supported response to my essay, the latter two qualities (careful and well supported) are not ones that can always be ascribed to my original essay. It should be said, then, at the outset, many of our disagreements likely result from the fact that I some- times fail to state matters in a sufficiently clear and or succinct manner. The crux of our apparent disagreement rides on whether the Other is a necessary condition for all instances of bad faith. Apparent, for I never intended to make this universal claim. Below I show that my thesis is more modest.
Ronald E. Santoni
In the present essay I shall attempt three tasks. First, I shall try to illustrate the frequency and contexts in which Sartre associates violence with bad faith. Though focusing primarily on Notebooks for an Ethics, I shall want to show that this connection is hardly confined to that uncompleted and fragmented work. Second, and usually within the same context, I shall aim to make evident the sense or senses in which Sartre ascribes bad faith to violence. For example, what aspects or dimensions of his analysis of bad faith in Being and Nothingness apply here? Third, I want to raise a fundamental question, intended in part to be critical: If, indeed, violence instantiates bad faith, on what grounds can, or does, Sartre justify it on occasion? Given his overall and persistent criticism of bad faith, as well as his embrace of a conversion to authenticity, how can he, in good conscience, strongly endorse, even justify, violence in specified situations? Is there not an inconsistency here? Would not a justification of violence be tantamount to his justifying bad faith in certain circumstances? If so, is not Sartre in bad faith regarding the justification of violence?
Can Being-for-itself Avoid Bad Faith?
Ronald E. Santoni
ignored by Sartre scholars—and his diverging view of Sartre's pervasive concept of “bad faith.” In addition, I have examined the implications of Webber's proposed views of “character” on his interpretation of Sartre's “bad faith.” In my judgment
In this article, I reconsider the question of how best to understand Sartre's concept of bad faith by investigating it through the Derridean lens of deconstruction. I argue that Sartre's discussion of bad faith in Being and Nothingness mirrors Derrida's criticisms of structuralism in 'Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences'. Examining their distinctive discussions of 'play', I claim that Derrida's unique deconstructive interpretation of this notion operates within Sartre's criticisms of the 'spirit of seriousness'. I reinterpret bad faith as the attempt to solidify a permanent structure of one's personality, in order to avoid or escape from the 'play' or 'freedom' built into structures and our existential condition, and conclude that embracing 'play' is an essential characteristic of authenticity.
Exactly what does Jean-Paul Sartre mean when he describes some conscious awareness as ‘non-thetic’? He does not explicitly say. Yet this phrase, sprinkled liberally throughout his early philosophical works, is germane to some of the distinctive and fundamental theories of Sartrean existentialism. My aim in this paper is to examine the concept in terms of the role that Sartre claims it plays in bad faith (mauvaise foi), the deliberate and motivated project of refusing to face or consider the consequences of some fact or facts. I will argue that non-thetic awareness could play the role Sartre ascribes to it in bad faith only if it is understood as being equivalent to the nonconceptual representational content currently discussed in anglophone philosophy of mind. I will proceed by first providing an initial rough characterisation of ‘non-thetic’ awareness through a discussion of the philosophical background to Sartre’s term, then showing how this rough characterisation needs to be refined in order that bad faith may evade the two paradoxes of self-deception, next drawing the distinction between conceptual and nonconceptual content, and then arguing that non-thetic awareness must be construed as nonconceptual content. This clarification of one of the most pervasive and one of the most obscure concepts in Sartrean existentialism will have the additional ramifications that Sartre’s theory of consciousness in general must be understood as involving both conceptual and nonconceptual structures and that his discussion of the interplay of these structures can provide innovative and valuable contributions to the debates over the role of conceptual and nonconceptual contents in perception and action currently raging in anglophone discussions of mind.