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116 of 124 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sartre Defends Existentialism,
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.
Basically, in conclusion to his reference to atheistic existentialism, Sartre adds that the first principle of existentialism is that man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself. Not as what he conceives himself to be after already existing but that which he wills himself to be subsequent to a necessary leap towards existence. Basically, man only attains existence when he is what he purposes to be. Whereas, before that projection of the self, nothing exists.
Doubtless this first principle of existentialism gave rise to a reproach against the subjectivity of existentialism. Other ideas and terms used are also examined always with reference made to the particular reproaches Sartre has to answer in relation to such ideas and terms.
All in all, he makes out quite a solid and intelligible defence of existentialism as he explains that the first effect of existentialism is to put every man in possession of himself with the entire responsibility of his existence being placed on his shoulders.
The emphasis in the doctrine presented by Sartre is that there is no reality except in action. Man is described as nothing else but what he purposes with his existence being attained only in so far as he realizes himself. Man is therefore, nothing else but the sum of his actions.
He clarifies further this basic idea by stating - rather poetically in fact - that for the existentialist (though also in reality) there is no love apart from the deeds of love, no potentiality of love other than that which is manifested in loving and no genius other than that which is expressed in works of art.
Throughout the lecture the basic theme delivered by Sartre is that reality alone is reliable and dreams, expectations and hopes serve only to define man negatively and not positively since man is nothing else but what he lives.
One can easily understand how a basic idea such as this could give rise to a reproach for the pessimism of existentialism. Yet, Sartre manages to turn around this reproach and to declare that what people reproach existentialists with is not their pessimism but the sternness of their optimism.
As to the structure of the book, this is divided into three parts each of which can be enjoyed in its own right even though the parts are actually interrelated. First, there is a rather helpful introduction, then the lecture itself and finally the actual discussion that followed the lecture.
An additional benefit to the newcomer to the study of existentialism is the slimness of the book. This means the entire book or any part of it can easily be read time and time again. No doubt each fresh reading will be to the advantage of the reader as it will add to his understanding of the ideas expressed while simultaneously increasing his appreciation of the manner of their expression.
47 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good exposition 20th century existentialsm,
5.0 out of 5 stars readable,
This review is from: Existentialism and Humanism (Paperback)if you are a beginner like myself, this book can be a good start. The book itself is actually a speech delivered in Paris in 1945. Its language is very clear and readable. The basic concepts of existentialism and the criticisms leveled at this doctrine are expressed in a lucid way.
The book consists of three sections. The first 20 page is introduction by Philip Mairet. The introduction provides readers with some backgrounds about existentialism, which i believe does a good job. The second section, from 23 to 70 pages, Sartre lays out the basic concepts of existentialism and differentiates atheist existentialism (advocated by Sartre, Heidegger etc) and religious existentialism ( advocated by Kierkegaard and Karl Jasper etc). In this section, Sartre also addresses to the major criticisms leveled at his philosophy. The final chapter, from 71 to 95 pages, is basically the Question&Answer section after the speech,some people ask questions to Sartre to clarify his position further. Apart from the last 15 pages, it is not difficult the follow the book. But in this section, the discussion between Sartre and a guy called M Naville is getting more and more abstract and make that part of the book hard to comprehend.
My overall impression is that it is a good beginning both to Sartre and Existentialism. Particularly when we consider how difficult the topic is, it is fair to say that Sartre did a good job in his plain style.
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book..,
This review is from: Existentialism and Humanism (Paperback)Another good book from Sartre,gives you all the information and let's you repackage it,highly recommend,well worth the time to read..
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic,
This review is from: Existentialism and Humanism (Paperback)Great quality book - a classic philosophical lecture that is not too long! Introduction provides a context for the basis of the lecture.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some questions about consciousness,
This review is from: Existentialism and Humanism (Paperback)Without consciousness how can one even think of God?
Does consciousness create God though? Or does consciousness depend on God for its existence?
Is God the same as consciousness, as Advaitins think?
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like Jean Paul Sartre, then this is a good book to read.,
This review is from: Existentialism and Humanism (Paperback)Each Existential Philosopher has different ideas and consequently writes differently. I needed a book to help with my course work and as a feel drawn to Sartra, I picked this one. It was very helpful, easy to read and understand. It is one book that I will find the time to read all the through.(unlike some others!)
2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The title speaks for itself. It's the Amazon service which is great.,
This review is from: Existentialism and Humanism (Paperback)The book was for my son as part of his university course required reading. He says it's a great book. What I love is the Amazon service, ordered one day and delivered the next. No one can ask more than that.
1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling . . . but an ultimately flawed philosophy of freedom,
11 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At Last - A Graphic Novel Version,
The choice of artists was Sartre's, and Philip Mairet has an impressive canon of work before Existentialism and Humanism. He was Marcel Marceau script-writer, and head background artist on "Roobarb" (where he also convinced the studio that Custard teh cat would be funnier if he was pink, rather than yellow.) He does however suffer for a tendency to slip into his old ways, often including a confused squirrel in the background of teh strip. Perhaps this is at Sartre's instigation (in whose mind the squirrel represented death.)
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Existentialism and Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre (Paperback - 20 Sep 2007)