The latest installment from The School of Life’s animated video series introduces us to Jean-Paul Sartre‘s concept of bad faith, a concept integral to his philosophy, Existentialism. As Mark Linsenmayer, one of the founders of The Partially Examined Life podcast, explained on our site back in 2011, “bad faith” is a tendency we have to “disassociate ourselves from our actions,” or more commonly, to claim we have “more limited choices [in life] than we actually do.” He went on to say:
Bad faith is possible because of the nature of the self… There is no predetermined ‘human nature’ or ‘true you,’ but instead you are something built over time, by your own freely chosen actions, too often using the roles and characteristics others assign to you.
As is their wont, The School of Life takes Sartre’s notion of bad faith and applies it to everyday life, showing how it can help you create the life you want to live–from entering into more satisfying relationships, to getting out of dead-end jobs.
For anyone looking to get a fairly accessible introduction to Sartre’s philosophy, you might want to start with his 1946 lecture, Existentialism is a Humanism. And down below, in the Relateds section, we have more helpful introductions to Sartre’s liberating philosophy.
Jean-Paul Sartre Breaks Down the Bad Faith of Intellectuals
Sartre, Heidegger, Nietzsche: Documentary Presents Three Philosophers in Three Hours
Download Walter Kaufmann’s Lectures on Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Sartre & Modern Thought (1960)
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Simone de Beauvoir Explains “Why I’m a Feminist” in a Rare TV Interview (1975)
Excellent notion from Sartre, one of my favorites but sadly I think a tough sell when it comes to general acceptance. Mostly because we don’t want to know/accept that we are responsible for our own circumstances. After all, human beings have, for thousands of years, created any number of mythical beings, supernatural or natural influences and other universal truths that are meant to account for those parts of our lives and society that we are unhappy with. To accept the notion of bad faith requires we stop looking outside ourselves for blame and responsibility for our lot and accept that we make mistakes (frequently) about what is best for us and or others and therefore make poor decisions etc. But no, those bad decisions were in fact brought about by the universe or some deity or another. Not people. Not me, not you. It’s easier that way.