Chapter 7. Conclusion
In his “Being and Nothingness” and “Existentialism and Humanism”, Sartre paints a picture of a world where there are two types of thing, the for-itself and the in-itself. Whilst the in-itself is your every day object that exists for a purpose and contains no choices since it possesses no consciousness, the for-itself is a conscious entity, humanity, which is able to choose what to do with it’s existence.
The for-itself is able to choose options in its life because it is able to exploit the nothingness that surrounds it. This nothingness, which features in the title of Sartre’s first book, exists as every potential option for the for-itself. By negating this nothingness, the for-itself chooses whatever option it desires.
This choice of the for-itself is however more contained than Sartre gives it credit for. It is true that by denying responsibility for particular choices due to job specifications, events in your past and other scenarios, you are living in bad faith. Ultimately though, as Sartre would later realise, someone’s facticity and their social climate has a greater impact on their choices than he originally gave it credit.
In his notion of the Fundamental Project, Sartre puts forward the notion that all our choices are dependent upon one original project that we desire to achieve. With this project comes the problem that changing a project that controls everything in our world is the only true way of achieving freedom. It is with this in mind which Sartre eventually abandons the individual freedom and focuses upon a form of socially controlled freedom. Each man possesses unlimited freedoms as long as it is acceptable within his chosen social realm.
Ultimately Sartre realises that through our social interactions with the Other, we develop as an individual and possess our choices. It is through the limitations of our experiences with other for-itself that we gain our choices. The influence of the Other helps mould us as a person and as a result, man is not quite “nothing else but that which he makes of himself” (SARTRE, JP. 1948. P28).