Analysis Of Being And Nothingness By Jean Paul Sartre

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Jean-Paul Sartre, in Being and Nothingness , develops a theory on “bad faith” and on existential psychoanalysis. He averred that the mind was a conscious unity which was transparent to itself. In contrast to Freud’s theory, the idea of the unconscious was repugnant to him as it involved a division of the mind. The mind, for Sartre was by definition the conscious mind which was indivisible. Being an existentialist, he also believed in unconditional freedom which did not allow for subterranean forces determining one’s choices, as they leave one without any responsibility. In the chapter, “Bad Faith”, Sartre rejects Freud’s psychoanalytic picture of the functioning of the unconscious and offers a critique of the claims and mechanisms of psychoanalytic…show more content…
Lying to oneself, as Sartre put it was an act of bad faith. This characterisation of bad faith (as being a lie to oneself) involves intention and knowledge on part of the liar, which leads to a paradox. As lies are made by choice, Sartre’s idea of self-deception suggests that it is possible to deceive oneself. If one intentionally decides to deceive oneself, to deny what one knows to be true, one presupposes that one does already know something to be true. Contrastingly, if one’s false belief is not intentional it is unclear why it shouldn’t be regarded as a result of simple ignorance instead of self-deception. A paradox is inevitable if we understand self-deception in the manner of deceiving someone else. While lying to someone else, the deceiver knows the truth and keeps it from the deceived. However, in the case of self-deception, the deceiver and the deceived collapse into one person and there arises the problematic of how a person can know and simultaneously not know a particular thing. This is the paradox of knowing in relation to self-deception, which drives Sartre to his model of bad faith. According to Descartes, psychological states are transparent to the person having them. Similarly, for Sartre if one knows something one must necessarily be conscious of knowing it. If the epistemological paradox of self-deception arises only because of the unity of the psyche, the mind can be split, as…show more content…
He objected to the unconscious perhaps because it seemed to absolve the individual from responsibility. It is part of Sartre’s moralising project to insist that people have more choices in situations than they would acknowledge. This makes them responsible for more than what they would acknowledge. However, Sartre tends to think one has a choice as long as one can imagine another choice, and fails to see that more is required for an actual choice. If the only requirement is for an alternative to be imagined, both choice and responsibility become empty notions. He also insisted that refusing to choose or to act is the exercising of a choice. The concept of bad faith comes here as sometimes we deny ourselves freedom, and are in turn deceiving ourselves. Sartre insists that ‘existence precedes essence’, that we remain people irrespective of our professions or our relationships. Hence, we cannot use the demands of our position as an excuse for our actions; for we always have a choice and can always abandon our particular role or position. Recognition of an unconscious does not necessarily require the abandonment of Sartre’s moral insights and his assertion that we are more responsible for our actions than we would like to believe. Sartre was merely hasty in his dismissal of Freud’s theorizations of the characterization of the

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