Jean-Paul Sartre: Basic Writings
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
As far as collections of Sartre's philosophical works go, this one is the best I've come across. The book is broken down into sections such as "Existentialism", "The Other", "Nothingness", "Politics", and so on. 16 chapters in all, each offering key excerpts from Sartre's entire corpus, especially focused on a specific philosophical matter. The editor, Stephen Priest, does a good job of introducing each chapter and his contributions offer excellent insight both to those who haven't gotten too far into Sartrean philosophy as well as those of us who occasionally need a refresher course. This book reminds me of why I first got interested in reading Sartre. It brings out the exciting spirit of Existentialist philosophy by focusing on the most poignant passages of Sartre's works. I do feel the book to be a bit pricey for a paperback, but all in all it is a rather aesthetically pleasing book. The binding and layout are high quality, as is usual for Routledge texts. Also, this book offers the complete "Existentialism and Humanism" lecture, including transcript of a question and answer forum which you will not find in most editions. Priest also does a decent job of providing biographical information in the chapter "Sartre in-the-world."
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2009
Yes, of course the content is good. And the basic formatting is fine. But the TOC has no Chapter names, which make navigating this collection of writings very difficult. There is no way to know what the content of a chapter is other then opening the chapter to see what it contains. Its a very simple edit for the publisher of this eBook that would make a big difference and help to justify the steep price. (For those without an eidetic memory the workaround is to create a note and manually add the chapter content reference ~ 45min)
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
In the introduction of the book Sartre's philosophical writings are spoken of as connected with the three fundamental values given in the slogan of the French Revolution, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. The first Existensial writings are devoted to individual development expression and freedom. The second period in Sartre's philosophical life, the Marxist period is said to be devoted to the value of'Equality'. And the third less extensive period to the value of ' Fraternity' In this period Sartre calls for the disappearance of the State, and places the focus on bonds of friendship, Fraternity. This rough classification is of course ' rough' and as Steven Priest makes clear Sartre is an Existensialist throughout concerned with the fundamental themes of human life, liberty, justice, life, death, anxiety, being, nothingness, truth and authentic existence.

The work is divided into eighteen chapters each of which deals with a major theme of this kind.

In it the reader can have a good feeling of the overall development of Sartre's philosophy, and can judge what they regard to be of value in it.

My own sense is that the truly important Sartre is the Sartre of the first period, of the existence precedes essence, of the making of meaning in our own life through our action, period.

But the philosophy of this first period too would seem to me to fall short of answering true human needs, and providing hope of ultimate meaning.For that one has to go to a kind of religious existensialism which of course Sartre would have nothing to do with.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2009
The works selected are an excellent representation of Sartre's oeuvre, and the real strength of this book is Professor Priest's brilliant and very readable introductions to each chapter.
The drawbacks are the following:
1.) Although the chapter introductions are exceedingly helpful, it would also have been a plus to include footnoting within Sartre's texts (there is such widespread use of philosophical jargon which the layman is not familiar with.)
2.) There is a rather large incidence of typographical errors (or possibly errors in translation) - enough to be noticeable.
3.) At least some examples of Sartre's fiction ought to have been included, since they are so much more accessible than his strictly philosophical tracts.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2013
Although there is plenty to read, i was disappointed it was another author with his perception who wrote this book.

Expectation is simply rebellion from Destiny
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2015
Good read..
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4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2001
The selections in this book are very good, but unless you're up for a little bit of a challenge this book isn't for you. There were an excessive amount of typos, but that is bearable. The first and last thirds of the book were most down to earth. I would strongly recomend reading some commentary along with this, though not having read any on Sartre myself I can't recommend any. There's a good chance I will re-read this book again in the future, particularly as I now want to take a class in existentialism this fall. Really, the only drawback was how hard and next to incomprehensible the reading was at times, which is typical of philosophy. I don't even agree with most of what I read, but I still value the struggle to understand it.
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4 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2005
This review is of a single essay by Sartre, "The Anti-Semite". He uses his notion of people's needing to turn away from their own natures and not look too closely at themselves, as causal to anti-semitism. He is probably correct that mankind in general wishes to concentrate the mind upon some external idea. Religion does this, of course, giving people a beautiful or demanding abstraction to focus upon at the expense of one's own nature. This is no brilliant insight. It is an idea as old as Genesis. Sartre's creation of a relationship between this

aspect of man's existence and anti-semitism is that the anti-semite concentrates feeling, thought and force of will upon the Jew individually or collectively in order to keep his own mind from

concentrating on his true nature.

As an explanation of anti-semitism Sartre is spouting pure nonsense. He says, for instance, that one cannot understand

anti-semitism unless one knows that Jews are totally blameness.

Sartre's general philosophy is of interest to many people, but is of no particular importance to me. However, his theory of the cause of anti-semitism is of importance when people accept what he is saying. His stated view is much akin to notions that anti-semitism is some sort of "virus" that infects the sufferer or that anti-semitism is "the most virulent form of raceism" or similar notions which have Jews in the position of young children being attacked, perhaps killed, by a child molester turned child killer. This view, widely promoted, is an attempt to force the public's minds to ignore cause-and-effect. Sartre's argument is infantile; it has no more connection to real causes of anti-semitism than a comic book or a video game has to real life.
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