Bad Faith

Following up on yesterday’s post about happiness and truth, I wanted to say a few words about how truth is better for us than comfortable mythologies.

I actually want to perpetually improve myself.  I’m not merely interested in being right (although I would lie if I said that were not a real desire I have) or just feeling comfortable.  I am interested in being a better and more healthy person.  And I cannot do so if I’m not willing to be honest with myself and those around me.

But honesty comes with a price.  Honesty means you cannot hide from the truth, whether it is within you or the universe itself.

This is why I demand a skeptical attitude about the world for myself, and those closest to me.  I believe that there are real answers about how to improve ourselves and our world, and lying to ourselves about the nature of reality is not conducive to finding real solutions.  If I want to be better, and I want the world to be better, I cannot be satisfied with comfortable fantasies.  Fantasy cannot give you real answers, it can only give fantastic, unbelievable, or incredible answers (notice those words, and think about what they really mean).  How can I trust people, including myself, to actually become better if they cannot do the very basic work of not lying to themselves about what is real?

If we cannot do reality, I can’t see how we can do the work of transcending ourselves into anything other than an avatar for a complicated and comfortable lie.

This is why I do battle with faith.  Faith cannot lead the human species to a better future, because faith cannot have a solid basis in reality.

Faith is inauthenticity.

A narrative which avoids the evidence of what the world really is cannot give us consistent good answers to tough questions.  At best, it can give us answers we like that work insofar as we remain within that narrative.  But once you lave that narrative, the answer may not be effective.  So, the question is whether that narrative is real or not.  why would you want to remain within a narrative structure, whether Christianity, Scientology, or New Age spirituality, etc if it contains ineffective solutions to real problems?

Wouldn’t you prefer real solutions for real problems?

Isn’t maintaining the fake narrative just another form of lying to yourself? Isn’t it avoiding the real problem?

That is the very heart of inauthenticity.  That is, as Sartre called it, bad faith.


Not that it’s directly related, but just because it is a beautiful piece of (true) art: