If you want something that focusses on the main themes and introduces you to the main Existentialist writers, then this is the book for you. I knew a little bit about the topic before I started but you certainly wouldn't need to know anything to understand this book. The examples used to explain the arguments, from film and fiction, made it very clear. My only complaint was that this book was not long enough, as I was enjoying it so much, I didn't want it to end!
This book certainly gave me a good understanding of the topic. It was shaky around chapter 2 when a lot of abstract and somewhat inevitable terminologies were discussed. I can't say I fully grasped all of them absolutely, but this is one of those books where you don't need to - the author does not rely heavily on terminology later on to convey or illustrate his points (bar the odd case or two).
I really gained a lot of different ways to look at life and Existentialism is one of the more applicable and relevant schools of philosophy for the masses. I think Warternberg deserves a big thumbs up for whetting my appetite to pursue some of the original texts by Existential philosophers, and I can do so with more confidence.
Finally, I would like to say that this would be a good intro for philosophy students if they are studying the subject.
Hurrah!!I've been looking for this book for years! It's written for anyone - not just philosophy students - in a clear, direct and personal style. Mr Wartenberg doesn't assume you know about Cartesian or any other principles, so you don't have to read 100 other books to understand what he's saying if you don't want to (but gives you direction if you do). He uses some literary references like Hamlet, but explains the relevence in the text, so no need to read the play (again). There are little potted biographies of key people, as and when they pop up. Altogether, a really clear and accessible introduction to a complex subject. Excellent.
This book is great! I was completely new to existentialism and loved the pace and clarity of the book without becoming existentialism for dummies or too condescending. I didn't give it 5 starts because the book claims to use lots of modern culture examples which is not true. It just uses a couple of movies (principally Matrix along the whole book). I didn't really missed to have more examples, but it's description is deceiving and I didn't like that.
I have long been a devotee of the OUP's Short Introduction series and when I wanted to buy an introduction to existentialism I searched there first, but was warned off by the reviews. Instead, by the same process, I ordered this title and I am really glad that I did. Wartenberg gives us a brilliant introduction to the subject. I had very little background knowledge of philosophy and even less knowledge of existentialism, but I was hungry to learn. Starting from first principles the author introduces us to the main issues of identity, individuality and self-consciousness. He deals with awareness of, and interaction with, others and the issues generated by free choice, especially in important moral issues such as racism. He explains the technical words that are unavoidable and I personally think the book is much enhanced by the short biographies and summaries printed in text boxes throughout the book. They deal with individual philosophers and their theories, so in a few words we can gain an insight into Kant say, or Sartre. Wartenberg makes no bones about being a supporter of the existentialist world-view. He is fully committed to it, but not in a way that obscures the truth or muddies the discussion; itself an accomplishment. In short if you, like me, want to begin an exploration of this subject, one which has undoubtedly moulded our world, then this really is an excellent place to start.
Acccessible, cohesive, condensed yet thorough. Only recieved this product yesterday and I am already 2/3 of the way through it, very succinct explanations of an otherwise reasonably complicated topic. The best introduction out there, and i've read three others.
Having a casual interest in philosophy I found this book a great read. The author's style is tailored to someone who is new to the subject and he resists the temptation to delve into issues in too much depth too soon. He uses a good range of popular references which also help to engage as well as illustrate the points he is trying to make. This way that the book is structured helps to build up understanding of the subject. In summary, I feel that it does what it said it would do.
Others have said it and I'm reiterating the statement. This is a very good introduction to Existentialism. If this subject is something you want to learn about from a position of knowing nothing then I'd certainly recommending this book. Tip your toe in here, it's the easiest way to learn how to swim without drowning in the death that existentialism can offer.