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Existentialism and Humanism Hardcover – Dec 1948

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Methuen young books (Dec. 1948)
  • ISBN-10: 0416509207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0416509205
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,229,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

Originally delivered as a lecture in Paris in 1945, "Existentialism and Humanism" is Sartre's seminal defence of his original doctrine of existentialism and a plan for its practical application to everyday human life. Over the past fifty years, the writings of Sartre have probably been more influential in the West than those of any other thinker, and this exploration of one of the central tenets of his philosophical thought has become the essential introduction to his work, and a fundamental text to all students of philosophy. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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123 of 132 people found the following review helpful By Manthos A. Mattheou VINE VOICE on 11 Aug. 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book will either make you want to read more about existentialism or it will lead you into making quite the opposite choice by leaving existentialism to others possibly more patient than yourself though not necessarily more intelligent.
Whatever your choice you will nonetheless be making a choice even if that choice is not to make a choice.
Or as Sartre would put it, in a far more philosophical manner, you can always choose but you must know that even if you do not choose that would still be a choice. For what is not possible is not to choose.
This is the first book I have read about existentialism so I cannot judge whether it is a good introduction to this philosophical movement yet the very fact that the purpose of the lecture delivered by Sartre is to offer a defence of existentialism against certain reproaches laid against it, seems by itself to shape the content of the lecture into an attempt by necessity to capture the essence of existentialism. In particular, in relation to the reactions existentialism has provoked.
There are certain key ideas that are very plainly put across to the reader which may well capture one's attention and actually lead to a further exploration of other books about existentialism.
For example, Sartre after referring to the two kinds of existentialists that there are and declaring that he is a representative of atheistic existentialism explains that if God does not exist there is at least one being whose existence comes before its essence, that is to say a being which exists before it can be defined by any conception of it.
That being, of course, is man.
Thus, existence precedes essence. Man first exists and then defines himself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Takes his ideas from Nietzsche, Stirner and Adler to mix together to launch existentialism - a creed identified with his name and indelibly French but its roots are German or Austrian. This is an easy read and easy to comprehend. The intro takes you though a tour of Kirkegaard, Jaspers, Heidegger all easily digested after reading Wiki to get a snapshot for any newcomer.

Then it is Sartre delivering a 1946 lecture straight after the French had stopped collaborating with the Nazis to talk about freedom of being able to choose. Existentialism throws down a challenge to all over belief systems such as science, religion, communism, fascism, capitalism etc because Sartre drawing on Nietzsche's Truth and Lies in the Extra Moral Sense - states there is nothing but belief and those human connections you make along the way. Whilst Nietzsche hovers over a nihilistic power to self obliterate, Sartre offers hope. Many have not been able to comprehend the full blast of what he offers, still disinvesting themselves and believing that there is an essence which exists beyond human existence but it would be very hard to prove the world exists independently of our belief in it. Not that it can be wished away either - this is part of the human conundrum.

Human beings are trapped within themselves and their sense of time, connection and mind all take shape within communities who each believe they are the centre of the universe. Sartre takes this notion that they are embodied and asks how are you going to enact your will? By operating it over other people or in connection with others - this is the question.

In effect he debunks much of the behavioural psychology which people wish to believe in by positing the myriad possiblilies of being alive and the multiple choices people have.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By CLINT McGAVIN on 10 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having read, and been intrigued by, several 'Existentialist' novels over the years, I decided finally to try and achieve a greater understanding of the subject. I must say that I found this book to be a fascinating read. It's divided into 3 parts: an introduction by translator Philip Mairet, followed by the transcribed lecture on Existentialism & Humanism given by Sartre, then lastly a brief Q&A section allowing detractors of the philosophy to voice their opinions. Despite Sartre's sporadic references to the likes of Kierkegaard, Kant, Descartes and Gide (none of whom I'm particularly familiar with) I found this book surprisingly easy-going. It's a fairly slim publication to begin with, so there's not too much to digest in one go, and I was actually able to dip in and out of it without having a problem re-grasping the thread as it were. It's a decent translation too, which helps. I thought Sartre defended Existentialism very well and this book has encouraged me to purchase further related literature. Recommended.
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48 of 55 people found the following review helpful By s.a.bellino@dur.ac.uk on 3 Dec. 1999
Format: Paperback
Here, Sartre explores the concept that God does not exist, thus we must face the consequences. He appears to paint a bleak picture, God's non existence means we must take full responibility for our actions. We are on our own in the world, we must comprehend what this fully means. Though, he does not advocate the school of thought which claims that God is dead so everything is permitted. We must always act and consider our values, quieitism is never a valid option. We must always act and from this freedom of action, Sartre claims his doctrine is one of optimism. This book is not very well written, largely due to the fat it was a lecture transcript though all his prevailent ideas are there. All in all, it is a very thought provoking read which advocates the value and worthiness of human beings.
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