When studying one of the most well known philosophers, Jean-Paul Sartre, we are quickly introduced to the concept of bad faith. Without reading anything about this topic, the term itself, perhaps, gives off a negative connotation. But to a great surprise, Sartre’s concept of bad faith is far from having a negative background. Through this intelligent philosopher, we learn that bad faith is merely a lie that we tell to ourselves in order to deny that we are being free and responsible.
In Sartre’s philosophical writings from Being and Nothingness, Sartre writes, “If bad faith is possible, it is because it is an immediate, permanent threat to every project of the human being; it is because consciousness conceals in its being a permanent risk of bad faith. The origin of this risk is the fact that the nature of consciousness simultaneously is to be what it is and what it is not. ” (348) Specifically focusing on the nature of consciousness, what Sartre means by this is that the nature of consciousness is something that we think is designed to help us make decisions that we are to follow through with.
Although that is how we envision the idea of consciousness, we learn that our conscious tells us what to do, but we as individuals sometimes don't follow through with it for reasons that we want to make decisions for others and not for ourselves. Because of this, this shows that we all deal with the concept of “bad faith” because in our daily lives we deal with situations such as going against what our conscious tells us.
In Sartre’s writings, he allows us to see how bad faith can occur in our every day lives in simple situations. For example, Sartre writes about a woman going on a date with a man and shows how she executes bad faith simply by showing that she goes against her conscious, or desires. Another example of bad faith could be, perhaps, a young college student that is going to school to be a doctor, only because his parents want him to, but when in reality he desires the arts.
Every time he sets foot in a science class his conscious tells him to walk out the door and take up some of the art classes being offered. Or every time he registers for a new semester his conscious tells him to change his major. This is a perfect example of bad faith because this is showing an individual going against his desires and ultimately denies being free and responsible. Sartre’s concept of bad faith is very interesting and truly makes people dig down deep to find the bad faith inside of them which we had no idea existed.