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PHIL 375 - Lecture: Sartre (Bad Faith)

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PHIL 375
Susan Judith Hoffmann

Bad Faith Hegelian Master-Slave dialectic: Moment when consciousness reaches self-consciousness. When there is a self, and the self contributes to objective knowledge. Consciousness faces a world that is other than itself, but when it realizes that the inner nature, the objective nature of things that is revealed by science is actually its own work, it realizes that it's not just other and itself. It is both other and itself. Early self-consciousness is aware that there is a difference between self and other, that there is a gap that it wants to close. It only achieves its satisfaction in closing this gap. It does this by being recognized for what it truly is: freedom. This must be recognized by another. We need another to be recognized as free. You can only have a sense of self when there is another being against which you can contrast yourself. This other is always perceived as a threat. Self- consciousness is therefore an entirely social fact. This recognition is filled with conflict. The other is also perceived as an object, which we want to control and dominate in order to assert our freedom. I experience myself as a consciousness that wants to control and dominate everything that is exterior to me. Ultimately we have a desire to be God, to be able to assert one's freedom over all things. In order to be pure consciousness, to be truly free, I have to kill the other, kill the threat. However, if one kills the other, then there's no one to recognize your freedom. And one needs the other to recognize oneself as a free human being. Thus, the solution is enslavement. The stronger makes the weaker into a slave. But this also, in Hegel, doesn't work. This is because one needs a free being to recognize me, but it is not a true recognition if I am recognized by someone who is a mere brute, which is the consequence of enslavement. If I enslave the other, it turns out that I am the slave. This is because the master doesn't do anything, but the slave is the one who externalizes herself through creating. However, the slave also has to live every single moment of her life knowing that she does not have any control over her life. Thus, the slave must live continuously truly dreading death. However, in having to contemplate her finitude in that real way, the slave is able to really grasp what it means to be a finite being, and go beyond the master. Bad Faith The champion of sincerity is trying to reduce the homosexual to the status of a thing. To fix his essence to “being a homosexual.” Psychoanalysis and Bad Faith How is it possible to hide things from ourselves? Deception involves knowledge, knowing the truth. Also, consciousness is always a kind of knowing consciousness, even the pre-reflective consciousness. How is deception possible then in the cases of knowing the truth and then choosing to hide it? In order to lie, I would have to know the true fact, then not say it to another. However, how can I deceive myself of the true fact? Bad faith is a particular kind of self-deception. Sartre says it cannot be explained by a Freudian account of the self. Self-deception cannot be explained by the idea that there is an unconscious part of humans that have nothing to do with agency, in the sense that you and I do not have control nor responsibility for it. A part of the being for which one cannot be held responsible. This has to do with keeping or hiding from the conscious self by the unconscious self. The idea is that some psychoanalyst can identify this unconscious part of the self, and then show you it an what to do, etc. Sartre does not think it accurately describes self-deception, because it presupposes that we censor or repress true desires of ourselves. Sartre points out that repressing is a rational, cons
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