Bad Faith | The Paradoxes of Denomination and Decision [2]

200905072000.jpgIn the previous post I began to explore some of Satre’s thoughts about ‘bad faith’, and we saw that in the case of the waiter, his role as a waiter appeared to be putting an obligation on him: he feels he ought to be acting like a waiter ought to act. He is thus denying something of his essential freedom.

Satre also used the example of a man looking back over his life and sexual experiences. Would it be right for him to call himself ‘homosexual’ simply because of the sum of his past actions and current feelings? In other words, is this individual a homosexual, in the same way that a table might be metal?

A table is a table because it has the essential properties of a table. We know what a table is. But Satre’s argument is that we are not human because we do human-like things. Our consciousness, as Satre put it, is ‘non self-identifying.’ We are not simply the things that we do, or feel: we have ‘both facticity and transcendence.’ We are what we are, but precisely part of our being is that we are not simply what we are – we can transcend this.

Too often we fail to live properly within this paradox, and when we do, we are in ‘bad faith.’ What interests me, and what I’ll look at in the next post, is how Jesus’ critique of the religion of his day was precisely a dual critique of the collapse of this paradox into pure facticity or pure transcendence – a critique that I think is at the heart of the struggle for the rebirth of our faith again today.