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Being-for-itself and the Ontological Structure

Can Being-for-itself Avoid Bad Faith?

Ronald E. Santoni

-grounding and fixed nature, part of the ontological structure of the For-itself?; and (2), perhaps mainly to reformulate and extend the issue, Is bad faith essential or necessary to or inevitable in human existence? Put another way, Is this fundamental

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Alienation and Affectivity

Beauvoir, Sartre and Levinas on the Ageing Body

Kathleen Lennon and Anthony Wilde

being. If we develop Beauvoir's thought in the direction of his, an ontological structure is suggested, distinct from the one she shares with Sartre, a structure which makes room for her pervasive attention to affectivity. The consequent picture is one

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Maria Antonietta Perna

The present paper aims to explore the Spinozean notion ‘multitude’ as it is used in texts by Antonio Negri and Paolo Virno, although I shall only touch upon the latter’s work to the extent that it appears to agree with Negri’s theses. Doing so will bring up an issue which, in my view, impinges on the articulation of the praxis of liberation envisioned by the above philosophers. In particular, although their analyses adopt ontology as a point of departure, and this is a core methodological tenet in their thought, they fall short of offering an account of the ontological structures of agency which would be adequate to ground the motivation for the appointed ethico-political task.

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Sarah Horton


Drawing on Sartre’s account of violence, I argue that not only is bad faith inevitable in practice, but a limited bad faith is necessary for authenticity. Although violating the freedom of others is bad faith, it is impossible to never violate anyone’s freedom. Moreover, and more fundamentally, the ontological structure of the for-itself entails that the for-itself can only be authentic in the mode of not being authentic. Seeking to altogether avoid bad faith is bad faith, for it is an attempt to constitute oneself as essentially authentic, yet the for-itself has no preexisting essence. By recognizing one’s complete responsibility for choosing bad faith, however, one limits one’s bad faith. This limited bad faith is in fact necessary to authenticity, which is a project lived out in concrete situations and not a categorical moral law that forbids bad faith.

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Mark Rozahegy

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.

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John Ireland and Constance Mui

Being-in-itself-for-itself, and asks whether that desire constitutes the ontological structure of the For-itself, thus rendering bad faith an essential and inevitable feature in human existence. Santoni rejects Jonathan Webber's interpretation that the

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Sociality, Seriousness, and Cynicism

A Response to Ronald Santoni on Bad Faith

Jonathan Webber

, the latter is the ontological structure of our being. 10 Sartre considers bad faith to be widespread and deeply embedded in our culture. A radical conversion to authenticity is possible for a being-for-itself. It would be a conversion away from the

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Daniel O'Shiel

to argue for a general ‘ontological need for God’ 11 precisely due to this ontological structure, again emphasising the inevitability but also the ultimate impossibility of a harmonious synthesis. Here the shift of focus is less about Sartre and

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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

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Thomas Meagher

‘desirable’ from the ontological structure of things to their simple material constitution…” 24 The phenomenological reduction of desire to its anonymous form thus demonstrates the agency at the root of all desires and all ends, thereby serving as an