Is Bad Faith Necessarily Social?

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Abstract:

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.
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