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What Is Bad Faith According to Peter Berger

  • Date Submitted: 11/22/2010 03:02 PM
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Chapter 7
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”.  
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...

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