Tangent: Bad Faith, part 1

In an earlier post, I suggest that Francis Laruelle, by his Non-philosophy, is in bad faith, ala. Jean-Paul Sartre. So I might do well by explaining what this means.

One could easily come to a close idea of what bad faith might mean by comparing it to ‘good faith’. I would say that good faith is a kind of trust one has in another but before the other person has really earned it: the trust is given in good faith. And this can be closely associated with plain Faith, as in, I have faith in you, or, I have faith in Jesus.

Sartre comes up with the idea of Bad Faith in reference to what may be common to general human experience; so far as what may be real life, people tend to take it on good faith that it is real, or at least tend to take experience with the benefit of doubt. Even things that seem odd or disagreeable are still taken as an occasion for a plausible judgement as to what may be real or not.

Now, Sartre is making a claim against such typical experience, that such realities taken in good faith are actually of bad faith. One avenue of looking at this is to see that he stakes his claim on the possibility of freedom. In an extended analysis, one comes upon the peculiar confinement that reality places upon a person, that freedom is defined against other qualifiers of reality such that freedom itself is designated and so does not qualify itself to its meaning: freedom has no essential meaning – and this means that we are not really free.

Here we get to what is meant by existential angst. We want to be free; we feel free but upon consideration of what this means we never find any more freedom than what we want or what we feel. What has been termed an ‘ existential crisis’ is a moment when we become trapped in our existence; whatever the actual circumstances or events, we come to a point where a sensible decision into action becomes impossible, a catch 22, where the definers of free choice crowd in upon us and blur and do not allow us clearity. The decision, then, that is ultimately made is one of pure event, of pure experience: we are thrown into existence, the inevitable movement of existing itself. In response to this moment, one thereby makes sense of it, and thus comes to real freedom. Sartre says we make a choice out of the inevitable, what he calls the abyss of freedom, back into true agency where we find real freedom in our new found ability to choose truly of ourselves in reality, we ‘revolt’ against the abyss of freedom. Bad faith is the condition of the usual events of living before such crisis. This is the typical existential reading.

But this reading is wrong; it is a superficial reading that justifies freedom by denying basic existence for the sake of reality.

We cannot stop at feeling like everything is ok, because soon enough everything will not be ok again. Bad faith indicates a situation of denial. I contend that it is due to this denial that all problems occur – and if this is the case, then we will find that philosophy, and rhetoric in general, speaks of a maintenance of incorrection.

So what am I really saying when I say that Laruelle’s Non-philosophy is in bad faith? This is the issue at hand.

Author: landzek

My name is Lance Kair, a philosopher, a counselor and a musician who is being questioned.

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