Do We Enjoy Being Free?
Press Start for Do We Enjoy Being Free? by 8-Bit Philosophy, where classic video games introduce famous thinkers, problems, and concepts with quotes, teachings, and more. Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialism Is a Humanism takes a look at Bad Faith.
Episode 5: Do We Enjoy Being Free? | (Final Fantasy + Sartre)
Written & Directed by: Jared Bauer
Narrator: Nathan Lowe
Animation Producer: MB X. McClain
Original Music & Sound by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Academic Consultant: Mia Wood
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon
Do We Enjoy Being Free?
(Final Fantasy + Sartre)
Existentialist Jean Paul Sartre claimed that because there is no God, we are CONDEMNED to be free. In his essay “Existentialism is a Humanism”, Sartre famously said that “Existence precedes Essence.” In other words, one first exists, and THEN one invents one’s “self” through the choices he makes.
But such freedom can be quite daunting, and leads to feelings of abandonment, despair and forlorness. For not only is there no God to guide us, but our total freedom means each one of us is solely responsible for what he becomes. Sartre says that to alleviate this burden of choice, we will attempt to deceive ourselves by acting as if we are not free, or what he calls “acting in bad faith.”
Consider a situation in which a woman contemplates leaving her husband for her lover. Is she prepared to face the consequences of such a critical choice- a choice that only SHE can make?
Instead of choosing, she may lure them to a meeting where she will idly allow them to fight over her. The hope is one will prevail, sparing her of the responsibility of choosing herself. By relinquishing her choice, she leaves it up to somebody else to define who she is, and thus, she acts in Bad Faith.
In fact, every second of the day we make choices that define us. The self is constantly changing, always an “open question.”
For example, one may perform a certain job, such as a knight, but one is never identical to one’s role. Imagine a man named Nigel has the job of being a wizard. A wizard’s role is easily defined- one casts black magic to vanquish their enemies. But when he does this, is he making the choice as Nigel, or as a wizard? If he chooses to merely equate himself with his role of “wizard”- he will execute his actions in a mechanical, overzealous way. He doesn’t actually choose his actions as his own, rather he merely acts in accordance with how people expect a wizard to act. Thus, he is in bad faith.
But is choosing not to choose not also a choice?
However we may try to delude ourselves, there is no escaping our freedom.