Awarness of Freedom
- 2 Posts
- Age 16
Being human is all about the choices we make, an existentialist would say. Existentialism, a philosophical view which ushered the world out of the views of romantic thinkers, is focused on big questions regarding the most difficult and strenuous deed known to us today: the ability to exist.
Although I am not about to tell you about whether we are living in the right way, or what the meaning of life may be, I am instead going to explain to you about one of the most liberating yet fearful ideas which can either awake a new being from within, or instead construct iron bars to which we cower down from behind: freedom, and knowing whether the choices we make are right.
Any existentialist philosopher would say that individuals are free to make their own choices and that we are defined by these choices we make, if we choose them to define us. Jean-Paul Sartre, one of the most iconic philosophers of the 20th century explores the problems and joys which accompany this idea of being fundamentally free. One of his theories which influenced me the most however was his idea of Bad Faith.
Bad Faith is the process by which humans adopt values from external forces, causing them to turn away from their personal innate nature and their authenticity. In other terms, it means that we lie to ourselves about the possibility of choices to spare ourselves from short-term pain, but instead fall victim to a long-term ennui and saddness. This could happen when we are under pressure from other people to make big choices which could possibly determine the rest of their lives. By rejecting the freedom that we do have, Sartre suggests that not only do we force ourselves to see only one path of living, but we also live inauthentically, which according to existentialism, isn’t really living at all.
In his most famous essay, Being and nothingness Sartre describes a waiter who is overly devoted to his role and is who has made it his destiny to be a waiter and that he has no other choice of how to live. The waiter has decided that he is first a waiter rather than a human being, and has convinced himself that he cannot be anything other than that.
Sartre suggests that we constantly lie to ourselves that we don’t have other options because we somehow find it more reassuring. However he didn’t see bad faith as a sinful and corrupt act. Instead he viewed it as natural outcome of how our minds work, and that we should acknowledge its impact so that we can be as free as we can be.
So, at a time when we are making huge decisions which can impact our lives, it may be a good idea to listen to Sartre; to explore different roads before fixating ourselves on only one journey and being aware that we can change our path at any time.