early Sartre. Webber, too, has seriously engaged with the issue and recognizes the importance, and even two-sidedness, of any solution. In short, the issue may be stated simply in the question, What is the ontological status of being-for-itself with
Can Being-for-itself Avoid Bad Faith?
Ronald E. Santoni
The Human Body as Raw Material
cinematic depictions of the human body as raw material. My investigation will proceed, first, by explicating an ontological distinction between being-in-itself and being-for-itself , which will allow for a clarification of the processes involved in the
Michelle R. Darnell
This article stresses the importance of one of Sartre's often overlooked novels, The Age of Reason (1945), and the possibility that it should be considered an early attempt by Sartre to answer the questions he raises at the very end of Being and Nothingness (1943). Considered as a preliminary response to Being and Nothingness, this novel provides an opportunity to explore how ethics might be lived, and draws a clear distinction between a theoretical understanding of being-for-itself and living authentically. As such, it is argued that Sartre's fictional writings, especially The Age of Reason, must be taken seriously in Sartre scholarship.
By introducing 'drives' into a Sartrean framework, 'being-in-itself' is interpreted as 'Nature as such', wherein instincts dominate. Being-for-itself, on the contrary, has an ontological nature diametrically opposed to this former - indeed, in the latter realm, through a fundamental process of 'nihilation' (Sartre's 'freedom') consciousness perpetually flees itself by transcending towards the world. However, a kernel of (our) nihilated Nature is left at the heart of this process, in the form of 'original facticity' that we here name drives. Drives are the original feelings and urges of a freed Nature that simply are there; they are the fundamental forces that consciousness qua freedom always has to deal with. Drives, in addition, can be nihilated in their own turn, onto a reflective, irreal plane, whereby they take the form of value. This means Sartre's notion of ontological desire is always made up of two necessary components: drives and value.
In Being and Nothingness (1943), Sartre explains love as a strategy for achieving control over "being-for-others," the objectified aspect of the self-imposed by others' defining looks. Two contemporaneous fictions by Sartre, The Room (1939) and Dirty Hands (1948), expand the notions of love and of being-for-others in surprising directions. Dirty Hands shows the creative, productive potential of being-for-others: Hugo's reliance on the other for his self-definition paradoxically generates his decisive embrace of being for-itself. The Room dramatizes the role of the family in constituting a child's subjectivity: Eve's family situation explains her ontological imprisonment in the dimension of being-for-others. The two stories' tolerant vision of the complex social and psychological reasons for adopting being-for-others as one's dominant modality contrasts with Sartre's rigorous critique of reliance on being-for-others as a form of bad faith in Being and Nothingness. The fictions' enlarged perspective on human love and on being-for-others provides a framework for complicating and critiquing the ontological categories presented in Being and Nothingness.
The general impression that one gets from reading commentaries on Being and Nothingness – which was the same impression that I was left with after my own engagement with the text – is that it seems incredibly difficult for readers to totalize its content. Although the thesis of the text is straightforward enough – that one’s ontological structure, as being-for-itself, “is not to be what I am and to be what I am not” (BN 492), such that all aspects of the existence of the for-itself are reducible to this structure (i.e. the temporal nature of the for-itself, its orientation towards the future, is itself implied within that structure since what the for-self is is yet to come in the future – so the for-itself is what it is not (yet)) – Sartre insists on discussing various aspects of existence that, in the end, do not confirm or conform to his thesis. It is almost as if the ontological proof was an afterthought to his phenomenological insights since his rather simplistic and highly dualistic ontology is frequently at odds in the text with his phenomenological descriptions. For example, in his “Foreword” to Merleau-Ponty’s The Structure of Behavior, Alphonse de Waelhens explains the difficulty that one faces in trying to reconcile Sartre’s insights into corporeity with his ontological conclusions. On the one hand, Sartre’s theses concerning the nature of corporeity – “conceived essentially as a dialectic opposing the body-as-instrument (in a very particular sense) to the body-as-given-in-bare-fact (corps facticiteé) – appear to be exceptionally fruitful and capable of finally allowing us to understand how existing consciousness can be an inherence and a project at the same time” (SB xix). The problem arises when one tries to understand these theses about corporeity in the framework of Sartre’s ontological arguments: “What is unfortunate is that it is difficult to see how these theses can be understood or accepted as soon as one situates oneself, as one must, in the general framework of Sartrean ontology.
Critiquing Presence with Sartre and Derrida
being that is manifested in different phenomenal entities, Sartre insists that being is expressed immanently through two forms: being-in-itself and being-for-itself. 37 Presence defines one sense of the former but never the latter: even when
A Response to Ronald Santoni on Bad Faith
that ‘man fundamentally is the desire to be God’ ( BN , 735) further confuses this aspect of his philosophy. He defines ‘God’ as a conscious being with a fixed nature, an impossible synthesis of being-for-itself and being-in-itself ( BN , 735). Sartre
an aspect of our situation. Love in Being and Nothingness In Being and Nothingness , Sartre identifies two categories of being: being-for-itself and being-in-itself. ‘Being-for-itself’ refers to situated, embodied human conscious existence
An Appreciation and Critique
Ronald E. Santoni
related article also motivated by my current examination of Webber's analysis. See my ‘Being-for-itself and its Ontological Structure: Can Being-for-itself Convert Permanently from Bad Faith?). In his Cahiers pour une morale , Sartre is quick to say that