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Sociality, seriousness, and cynicism: a response to Ronald Santoni on bad faith

Webber, Jonathan 2020. Sociality, seriousness, and cynicism: a response to Ronald Santoni on bad faith. Sartre Studies International 26 (1) , pp. 61-76. 10.3167/ssi.2020.260106
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Abstract

This paper is a clarification and development of my interpretation of Sartre’s theory of bad faith in response to Ronald Santoni’s sophisticated critique, published in the same issue. Santoni rightly points out that the central claim of my interpretation is that bad faith is a fundamental project manifested in all our other projects. This paper therefore begins with a clarification of Sartre’s conception of a project, followed by an explanation of his claim that one project is fundamental, grounding an elucidation of the idea that bad faith is a fundamental project. The paper then uses this to address the central themes of Santoni’s critique of my interpretation. I argue that Sartre does not consider us to be ontologically and congenitally disposed to bad faith. The prevalence of bad faith is explained, on my reading of Sartre, by the social pressure to conform to it, which is inherent in the project itself. Santoni is right that this cannot really explain the prevalence of bad faith, but this is a problem with Sartre’s theory, not a problem for my interpretation of it. I then defend my claim that Sartre’s notion of seriousness is merely a strategy of bad faith by outlining an alternative strategy that Sartre does not consider. Finally, I argue that Sartre is right to deny that bad faith is an inherently cynical project, even though it is manipulative and self-serving, and even though it can be cynically motivated.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Uncontrolled Keywords: authenticity, freedom, good faith, reasons, reflection, sincerity
Publisher: Berghahn Journals
ISSN: 1357-1559
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 July 2020
Date of Acceptance: 17 February 2020
Last Modified: 26 Nov 2020 18:52
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/133864

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