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existentialism and Jean Paul Sartre

Jean Paul Sartre: Existentialism and Humanism

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Existentialism and Humanism

This book is what got me started on Sartre, it's fairly easy to follow and it explains the basics of Sartre. Quality reading that gets you thinking... --Reviewer: phoenix-dk from Denmark

Man Is What He Wills Himself To Be. Existentialism and Humanism did not start life as a book. It is actually a translation of a lecture delivered by Sartre in Paris in 1945 at a time when the term "existentialism" was being bandied about rather loosely. My 1947 copy also incorporates the discussion which immediately followed the lecture. It is interesting to note that, after a few legitimate questions, the discussion became a series of challenges to the existentialist philosophy by a M. Naville who was a leading French Marxist in post World War II Paris.

Contrary to some comments contained in reviews of Sartre's books and collections of his essays, existentialism is not an easily understood philosophy and there were, and still are, differences of opinions regarding existentialism, and what it might mean, between major proponents of the philosophy such as Sartre and Gide. (Sartre alludes to this in this lecture.) For this review I will attempt to stick to the opinions stated herein by Sartre.

He led off his lecture by making the point that existentialism was under attack by The Church on one side and the Marxists on the other. He stated that both attacks were based on misunderstandings of the existentialist philosophy.

As is to be expected, his starting point for his discussion is the basic concept that existence precedes essence, or, putting it into his own words, "Not only is man what he conceives himself to be, he is also only what he wills himself to be." Carrying this to its logical conclusion; man, individually and collectively, is responsible for his own choices and actions. No excuses accepted.

Another often misunderstood term used in defining existentialism is "anguish." In layman's terms, anguish in existentialism has to do with the doubts surrounding making choices. Sartre uses "the anguish of Abraham" to illustrate. When Abraham was instructed to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham had to decide if the instruction really came from a messinger of God, or, conversely, was the messenger a tool of Satan. Then, when he was told not to perform the sacrifice, he was faced with exactly the same dilemna.

What I have covered in the last paragraph was merely the beginning of Sartre's discussion on anguish.

Another aspect has to do with being forlorn. In oversimplified terms, this means that we have nothing such as "human nature" or some predetermined value system to fall back on. Even when relying on someone else's advice our final decision is our own. We are truly responsible for our choices. How much more alone can one get.

Although Sartre discusses many other aspects of the existentialist philosophy, I'd like to leave these discussions to those who choose to read this lecture. I would, however, like to sum up with the following quotation.

"(Existentialism) can not be taken for a philosophy of quietism, since it defines man in terms of action; nor for a pessimistic description of man--there is no doctrine more optimistic, since man's destiny is within himself; . . . . It tells him that action is the only thing that enables man to live. Consequently, we are dealing with an ethics (sic) of action and involvement."

There's a lot more depth to those few aspects of existentialism that I did touch upon. For those who are tempted to use the term, "existentialism," to categorize a school of writing or as an excuse for certain excesses of behavior, or for inactivity, I would recommend reading this lecture as a starting point in understanding the term you are using. If it interests you, you might decide to expand your investigation to include other works on the subject and, perhaps, to further expand, and investigate other philosophical thoughts of both classical and contemporary thinkers. --Reviewer: Loren D. Morrison from Los Angeles County, U.S.A.

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...Existential Extras...

Minds: The Minds of Existentialism: The Realm of Existentialism houses an eclectic aggregation of Philosophers, Poets, Psychologists, Playwrights and Theologians -- all major league players -- indepth biographies, books and reviews, quotations, and a state-of-the-art bookstore for a more in-depth exploration, One-on-One. to name a few: Karl Barth, Simone de Beauvoir, Samuel Beckett, William Blake, Martin Buber, Albert Camus, E. M. Cioran, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Martin Heidegger, William James, Karl Jaspers, Franz Kafka, Soren Kierkegaard, Abraham H. Maslow, Friedrich Nietzsche, Blaise Pascal, Jean Paul Sartre, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Henry David Thoreau, Paul Tillich, Theatre of the Absurd

Existential Basics: Basic Themes of Existentialism: The Bare Essentials for the Mind-on-Fire, a quick overview of some of the basic, ever-winding, rivers that run through Existentialism and the human experience; love, anxiety, stress, solitude, relationships, failure, sadness, death, loneliness, human frailty etc. A very meaty section in the Realm of Existentialism, and frequently up-dated! Topics such as: What is Existentialism? | Basic Themes of Existentialism | Existential-Speak | Existential Themed Books and Reviews | Existentialism and the Human Situation | Existentialism and the American Consciousness | Existentialism and Moral Individualism | Subjectivity and Existentialism | Existentialism, Choice and Commitment | Irrational Man : A Study in Existential Philosophy | Existentialism's Dread and Anxiety | Existentialism : Man and Human Relationships | Existentialism and the Significance of Being | World, Limits, Existence -- Existentialism | Problems of Existentialist Theology | Modern Existentialist and Phenomenological Studies | What is Phenomenology?

Existential-Speak: Existential-Speak: Words and phrases usually associated with the Philosophy of Existentialism. Alienation | Ambiguity | Angst or Anxiety | Awareness as Agony | Bad Faith | Being | Boredom | Christian Existentialism | Death | Demythologized | Ethics and Morality | Existence Precedes Essence | Existential | Existentialism | Faceless | Fight Club | for None and All | Futility | God is Dead! | Hell is Other People! | Individualism | Nausea | Nothingness -- Nonbeing | Phenomenology Theatre of the Absurd

Quotes: Quotes: Keeping the ball in the court of Existentialism and Existential thought, thousands of the most thought-provoking Quotations imaginable! Tastefully arranged and streamed from MindPleasures.com

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