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Free «The Philosophy of Sartre» Essay Sample

The philosophy of Sartre is mainly dealing about the nature of human life and the concept of consciousness. This has been expressed widely from his works such as in novels, plays, and other academic treaties. He is locating the importance of human being existence in terms of their capacity for choice, and the freedom of choice that human beings posses. He also considered the synthesis of consciousness in terms of being for-itself, and also the being in-itself which has all along remained unstable. Sartre on his judgment on existentialism claimed that a person should be judged based on his/her past actions. It should be the total sum of the actions of a person that should be used in judging a person. He is claiming that it’s our ethical behavior that recognizes the freedom we have in the world in that, it recognizes that we are “condemned to be free” which means that, its not possible for us to hide behind the safety of our moral code, culture and tradition and that our physical existence follows our true nature. For this he said that the failure to live according to this principles means that we are living in a “bad faith.” In his book of playing the game of being a waiter, the acting waiter is failing to recognize himself as a human being, and noting that to be a waiter is his own choice as he can chose otherwise. This is noted when he claims that he is a “waiter” or a “super waiter.” This Sartre explains is  an act of objectifying himself, instead of considering himself as a human being with a free choice(Paul, 1981).


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 Again freedom or being a free being is noted in his book on the Age of Reason where the philosophy lecturer Delarue is upset after placing his arm around a beautiful lady Ivich, who could not read through that the placing of arm on her shoulder, meant he was waiting for a response from her, which she did not give. She assumed the hand yet she was aware what the guy meant, and delayed in giving out any response whether positive or negative. For this two cases Sartre’s claims that it is inauthentic, this is because they are free beings who have the freedom to decide or not to decide. Like the young woman who is making a delay on his choice, Satre claims that she is a free being who is free to decide whether to give a positive or negative feedback to the lecturer. Therefore Sartre shows us that the two acted in bad faith as they are denying themselves the freedom that they have as human beings. They already know that they are free beings but they do not recognize it (The Existential primer, Web page).

 Thus through acting in bad faith a person is both aware of the freedom he/she has and in a way unaware that they have the freedom. Sartre mainly focuses on what it is to be human. In his argument on existentialism, he develops his ontology on the radical freedom that characterizes the condition of human being. He claims that there are situations when the human being behaves in a way in which he/she is not, but wants to place himself/herself in the mode of that character that they want at that time. In this case one can even fake a character for the sake of other people. This is what Sartre described into being in-itself, being for-itself and being for-others (Paul, 1981).

Being and nothingness-that there are two types of reality where one is the object of consciousness and the consciousness itself. This is what brings out the two types of being which are; being-in-itself and being-for-itself. In this case Sartre tries to draw a distinction between the thing that do exist in them and the people who exist for themselves.


It entails being what it is, that is one getting too engaged in the world and as such lacking time for self-reflection. It can also be known as the non-conscious being. It occurs when the being of the phenomena is much greater than the knowledge that we ourselves have. It refers to the objects in the external world. It is not a conscious thing in that it is neither active nor passive. This as stated by Sartre is one of the greatest problems in the existence of human beings. In his example of the man in a café, in which he states that this man has applied his role as a waiter, in that, he thinks of himself as a waiter (as being in-itself) which is impossible as he cannot be a waiter (David, Web Essay).

From this example he says that if someone is trying to be a waiter then this is something that he has to be and so he is not. He cannot be a waiter but can play the part of a waiter. In the case of one acting as a waiter, he is saying that he is a waiter in the mode of what he is not. Therefore being in-itself is something that one tries to be which exactly one is not. It is taking the place of another and manipulating oneself into that thing (Joseph, 1996).

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It’s one which does not have identity for itself. It’s described as being a consequence of consciousness which is characterized as “being of something” which means that it must be defined in relation to something. This therefore means that it’s not possible to identify it because, the basic form of identification with-itself has failed. This was described by Sartres “as being what it is not and not being what it is” in this situation the for-it-self makes itself not to be the in-itself. It can also be known as the lack the lack of being, or just having a desire for being. It brings nothingness to the world and as such can stand out from being and then judge other beings, which is by knowing what it is not. Following the example that Sartre is giving of the man in the café who acts the part of a waiter, this man is only acting as a waiter as in reality he is not a waiter. He is just a man (being for-itself), only that he is functioning as a waiter with no fixed nature as he is just recreating himself. He is therefore guilty of concentrating on himself as being in-itself and not being-for-itself (David, Web Essay) (Joseph, 1996).

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Being for-others

Sartre in the being for others claimed that, most of the relationships that are formed are not on the basis of people’s attraction to another person but rather on how that individual makes the people feel of themselves depending on how they look at the person. In this case a person avoids subjectivity through identifying themselves with other people’s looks. Therefore, a person is holding the being of other, this means that for a person to keep their own being, they must as well control the being of this other and also control the freedom of this other. In this case the being for-itself is replaced by the freedom of the other. Therefore the reason for either of them being there is not for existence but is for making the other people to maintain looking at them. This process or system is what most people mistake for love, and yet it’s just the conflict that s experienced with the other and the freedom with the other. In this case we can say that our minds have the capacity of focusing on one thing such as the object of play and as such putting it at the front of our attention (Joseph, 1996).

 This can be reflected in that an actor can play as being Hamlet even if the person is not in the mode of being a Hamlet, a waiter can play being a waiter even if not in the mode of being a waiter but all this is done for others. In being for-others, we find that it’s our experience of other which matters that experience of been looked at, and not of curiosity. Therefore when someone finds us in the act, we tend to identify ourselves in the way we appear, “for others” thus we want others to believe that what they are seeing is the way we are yet we are only doing it for their sake. Following the example given by Sartre of the man in the café who acts as a waiter, we find that this man is only acting, so he is showing other people what he is not in reality. He therefore becomes a “man for others” instead of the person being true to his freedom in which he acts in bad faith. This person is a waiter for others. This act of being-in-itself is also found in emotions which he says, “If I make myself sad, it is because I am not sad-the being of sadness escapes me by and in the very act by which I affect myself with it.” In this case the sadness has been created, as it is something that is not there. With this he states that, “thus it remains that if I am sad, I am sad in the mode of not being sad while being sad, much as I am a waiter in the mode of not being a waiter while being one” (Ronald, 2005).

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Bad faith

It was used by the philosopher, Jean-Paul-Sartre, as a description to a situation where a person tends to behave as an object out of denying oneself total freedom as a human being. From the existentialist thought is that, people are always in a free state to make their own free choices and as such in guiding their lives towards the goal that they have chosen. This claim from the existentialist holds that individuals cannot be able to escape from this freedom even under circumstances that are forcing. This freedom of human beings to make choices is seen even in people who are being colonized in that, they possess choices such as; to resist in a non violent way, to submit to the rule, to act in complicity, and to negotiate. At times circumstances may limit individuals in making free choices but they cannot actually force people to follow one way over another. The individuals must make a choice even though in anguish and given that it will have its consequences. Sartre claimed that among the many conscious possibilities one of them must take precedence. An example is when he stated that “I cannot risk my life, because I must support my family” this he claimed that it’s the assumption of the role of an object at the fate of circumstances, which he called facticity. He claims that “human reality is what it is not, and it is not what it is” that is what is making him talk of people being not identifiable from their “intentional objects” in their characters, their personal history and even their objective responsibility (Austin, Web page).

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 He uses the example of a doctor who wishes and wants to become a pig farmer. Being a pig farmer makes him what he is not and not who he is since he is a doctor. Therefore Sartre says that when we talk of somebody as showing signs of bad faith, then it shows that, that person lies to himself/herself in a way. Bad faith can thus be said in simple terms to mean self-deception. This is a rather puzzling kind of a situation in that it’s lying to oneself. Lying to oneself is a situation where one is aware of what one is lying to the self, and as well is aware that one is lying to oneself about that particular thing (Ronald, 2005).

Sartre looks at an example of a young woman who has agreed to go out with a particular man. She is well aware of the intentions of the man taking her out. She is also aware that in mean time she will be required to make a decision regarding her stand on the request for the relationship by the man. Although she realizes that a decision is required of her she does not want to note the urgency of the feedback. If it happens that the man takes her hand, this is an act that is calling for an immediate decision. If she leaves the hand there, she is engaging herself, and again if she withdraws the hand it then means that she is breaking the harmony that was there yet it was troubled initially. The aim of so doing that is, of withdrawing the hand, is so as to postpone the decision that she is supposed to make. She then diverts the whole thing and starts talking of other things such as her life, which portrays her personality and her consciousness. At this moment the lady is neither accepting nor resisting any thing. This is what is been related to the issue of lecturer and the young Russian student girl, the young girl fails to give either a negative or positive feedback which the lecturer was really waiting for. This girl is thus acting in bad faith of refusing to give a feedback then, yet she has that free choice of giving out any kind of feedback and she was well aware of this but seemed not to recognize (Austin, Web page)(Joseph, 1996).

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Existentialist ethics in our own life and the accounting profession:

The existentialism is important in one’s understanding of oneself as, individuals have got that free will. It’s important that we understand that we have freedom to choose or not to choose. It’s also important that we realize that as human beings, we should not objectify ourselves in acting of who we are not, for the sake of making others believe we are what we are not. In the accounting profession, the accountant should realize that being an accountant is his own choice as he/she can choose to be an accountant or not. The accountant should not objectify in the accounting profession for the sake of others. He/she should not take the being of another, as specified by the accounting body should be himself/herself. The accountant should not act in bad faith, but should give the response as it is required since as a human being he/she has the freedom to give out any kind of response whether good or bad. The philosophy of existentialism is thus important in our every day lives. Sartre in his philosophy states that in our day-to-day lives when judging other people, we should base our judgment on their past actions. We as human beings should also learn that we have the freedom of making choices, whether good or bad.  We should not let the concept of being in-itself and being for-itself manifest in us, such that our lives are of imagining and living what has been defined by a certain body, and not of free choice.    

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Therefore we find that from the philosophy of existentialism, Sartre is mainly looking at the concept of individuals considering themselves as people with choices and with the freedom to make their own decisions, either to become or not to become. That is why he is saying that the waiter should stop considering himself as a waiter or a super waiter, but should consider himself as an individual who has the freedom to chose to be a waiter or not. In “being in-itself” and “being for-itself” which is manifested in us in that at times we find ourselves in situations that have been defined by a body of facts and not, what we have chosen. This is what he called “facticity” as it’s the ability of imagining and choosing. Thus through recognizing the freedom we have as individuals, we are able to make free choices when they are required and not acting in bad faith. As such we should avoid objectifying ourselves and acting in then way we are not, which makes others believe that we are what exactly we are not(Homepage, Web page)(James, 1982).


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