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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why Actions Define The Human, 15 May 2012
This review is from: Existentialism Is a Humanism (Paperback)
This is an essay Sartre gave in defence of existentialism. What is existentialism? Or what do I understand by existentialism? I think the following quotes from Garcin and Inez respectively, characters in Sartre's play Huis-Clos, sum up the philosophy: "A man is what he wills himself to be" and then "You are - your life and nothing else".

In this essay, Sartre sets out to show how these two declarations rather than being mere resignations to fate are actually clarion calls to responsibility. You are what you do and to be what you will, you must do, not just believe or worse, talk. This is not so far from Yoda in Star Wars: "Do or do not. There is no try". One does not need God "to do". One just needs to act. Our actions are the only evidence of our being alive as humans and why, ultimately, existentialism is a humanism.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Existentialism & Humanism: By Jean-Paul Sartre, 17 Jun 2012
By 
ShiDaDao Ph.D (London UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Existentialism Is a Humanism (Paperback)
This delightful little booklet is based upon a lecture that the Existentialist philosopher - Jean-Paul Sartre (1906-1980) - delivered at the Club Maintenant in 1945, as a defence for Existentialism as a true representation of Humanism. This lecture was consequently repeated privately so that those who disagreed with Sartre could formulate their objections - these objections appear in the final section of the book as a 'question & answer' session between Sartre and these critics.

The paperback (1973) edition contains 70 numbered pages, and although the book does not contain an 'index' of contents, it can be divided into the following sections;

1) Introduction by Philip Mairet Pages 5-19.
2) Existentialism and Humanism - Sarte's Lecture - Pages 21-56.
3) Discussion - Sartre answers his critics - Pages 57-70.

Philip Mairet has translated this text (into English) from the original French document, and provides a very thorough Introduction in the field of German philosophy. He explains that Sartre owes much to the work of Heidigger, Husserl, and Kant, as well as that of the Danish thinker Soren Kierkegaard. He further explains how virtually every philosopher owes a debt of creative gratitude (for the development of their respective philosophies), to the pivotal work (and genius) of Hegel. Despite the interesting content in this Introduction, Mairet omits any mention of the influence of the work of Karl Marx upon Sartre, even though Sartre mentions Marx (and Marxism) a number of times throughout his lecture. Indeed, so influencial has Marx been upon Sartre and Existentialist thought since 1945 - that Existentialism is often presented as a school of post-Marxist thinking.

What is Sartre arguing in this text? This text is fundamentally a re-stating of basic Existentialist thinking. The entire edifice of the text evolves around the following statements;

1) Existence precedes essence.
2) Humanity is free - so choose.

The criticism levelled at Sartre's approach is that Existentialism denies man a collective brilliance. It renders irrelevant all the technonological, cultural and political achievements of humanity, and instead focuses upon the freedom of the individual to act and grow in accordance with an inner need and an outer requirement. Sartre states that true 'Humanism' is not necessarily the celebration of the greed of humanity as it strives to materially survive in a hostile world, but rather that the 'true' celebration of 'Humanism' as a distinct state, is nothing more than the acknowledgement that regardless of the limitations of outer circumstance - each indiviual is 'free' to think and behave as he or she sees fit . Although the Existentialist position is atheistic, nevertheless, to acknowledge this freedom and to look within to see the essence created by physical existence, empowers individuals to transcend the tyranny of matter in such a way that no purely materialist philosophy can convincingly explain. A wonderful and lucid outpourng.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I needed, 30 April 2014
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This review is from: Existentialism Is a Humanism (Paperback)
Arrived promptly and in good condition. Good translation, good quality. I used it for teaching purposes, and it is good for the job.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars philosophical, 28 Nov 2011
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This review is from: Existentialism Is a Humanism (Paperback)
This book makes you certainly think about life and its meaning. Not a book for the light-hearted readers but it is a very interesting one.
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Existentialism Is a Humanism
Existentialism Is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre (Paperback - 24 July 2007)
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