Existentialism Is a Humanism

by

Jean-Paul Sartre

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Bad faith, the cardinal sin for Sartre, is choosing one’s values in a way that denies human freedom. Generally, this happens as a means to hide anguish; a person refuses to accept the fact that they are morally responsible for their mistakes and instead chooses to believe in a higher power or deterministic universe that relieves them of their moral responsibility. Faith in God, human progress, and a world without free will are all versions of bad faith for Sartre because each allows people to disavow responsibility for their actions and prevents them from authentically reflecting on what they would like to be.

Bad Faith Quotes in Existentialism Is a Humanism

The Existentialism Is a Humanism quotes below are all either spoken by Bad Faith or refer to Bad Faith. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Existence, Essence and the Human Condition Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Yale University Press edition of Existentialism Is a Humanism published in 2007.
Existentialism Is a Humanism Quotes

It makes me wonder if what they are really annoyed about is not its pessimism, but rather its optimism. For when all is said and done, could it be that what frightens them about the doctrine that I shall try to present to you here is that it offers man the possibility of individual choice?

Page Number: 19-20
Explanation and Analysis:

The truth is that of all doctrines, this is the least scandalous and the most austere: it is strictly intended for specialists and philosophers.

Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

People would prefer to be born a coward or be born a hero.

Related Characters: Jean-Paul Sartre (speaker)
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:

If someone were to ask me: “What if I want to be in bad faith?” I would reply, “There is no reason why you should not be, but I declare that you are, and that a strictly consistent attitude alone demonstrates good faith.” What is more, I am able to bring a moral judgment to bear. When I affirm that freedom, under any concrete circumstance, can have no other aim than itself, and once a man realizes, in his state of abandonment, that it is he who imposes values, he can will but one thing: freedom as the foundation of all values.

That does not mean that he wills it in the abstract; it simply means that the ultimate significance of the actions of men of good faith is the quest of freedom in itself.

Related Characters: Sartre’s Audience at the Club Maintenant (speaker)
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:
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Bad Faith Term Timeline in Existentialism Is a Humanism

The timeline below shows where the term Bad Faith appears in Existentialism Is a Humanism. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Existentialism Is a Humanism
Radical Freedom, Choice, and Responsibility Theme Icon
...for one’s actions. Anyone who fails to interrogate their decisions is therefore acting in “ bad faith .” (full context)
Abandonment and Atheism Theme Icon
Radical Freedom, Choice, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Existentialism and Its Critics Theme Icon
...can, indeed, judge others by recognizing that their choices are based in false judgments or bad faith . Bad faith is not a moral “wrong” but rather an error—acting in bad faith... (full context)
Radical Freedom, Choice, and Responsibility Theme Icon
...for the sake of freedom. He contrasts these characters with versions that act out of bad faith : a woman who gives up the man she loves (like Maggie) but only because... (full context)
Existence, Essence and the Human Condition Theme Icon
Abandonment and Atheism Theme Icon
Radical Freedom, Choice, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Existentialism and Its Critics Theme Icon
...human condition. He closes by reasserting that “existentialism is optimistic” and his critics act in bad faith , “confusing their own despair with ours.” (full context)