What, according to Berger, is meant by “bad faith” ? Explain.
“bad faith is a philosophical concept first coined by existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre to describe the phenomenon wherein one denies one’s total freedom, instead choosing to behave inauthentically.”
As Berger explains in this chapter many different aspects of “bad faith” practices performed in society. It can be a racial prejudice or discrimination. Either way he describes them as “one’s own counter image of the despised group”. (pg 159) A sociologist must separate his own “bad faith” from his own personal existence in society. This could be called an ethical dilemma that is faced by individuals but can be recognized and therefore not merit persuasion. Sociologists are faced with the difficulties of categories of people”negroes”, “whites”, “Jews”, etc., labeled by society. So there must be careful consideration when dealing with the many social identities that make up a society. “with the objective fact of relativity being taken as an alibi for the subjective necessity of finding those single decisive points at which one engages one’s whole being”.(pg159)
“It rests on a fundamental recognition of what is human and what is “counter-human”. (pg 161) A sociologist must understand that societies can be built on fraudulent ideas and practices. A society in “which socially constructed roles are taken as alibis for personal cowardice and cruelty”. (pg 160) The lawyer, the judge or the cop are just doing their job and remain anonymous beings, they can say that they are “representing their society”. Berger refers to them as “liars, functioning by deception”.
... in fact that the project of bad faith must be itself in bad faith. I am not only in bad faith at the end of my ... hard to not be in bad faith that he is the opposite of bad faith, he is by default in bad faith because he is living ... accepting personal responsibility for their actions; unaided by society, traditional morality, or religious faith.Distinguishing between human existence and the non-human ...
Berger also points out that the sociologists understanding and having a certain “sense of life” along with a certain amount of cynicism is not the only option. One can “combine compassion, limited commitment and a sense of comic in man’s social carnival.” (pg 163) Although sociological humanism can only be reached with compassion and understanding, there will always be a certain amount of disenchantment in any society. “It can easily be seen that bad faith covers society like a film of lies”.(pg 143) Or as Sartre puts it best, we are “condemned to freedom”. By engaging in “bad faith” we are listening to the demands that our social roles have upon us. We have the choice to step outside of our roles but we choose some form of “self deception” that helps us retain our respectability in society. Berger puts it well when he writes, “an understanding of bad faith does not necessarily lead us to a view of society as the universal realm of illusion, but rather illuminates more clearly the paradoxical and infinitely precarious character of social existence. (pg 145)