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Existentialism Is a Humanism Paperback – July 24, 2007
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This collection also includes a Q+A between Sartre and a review of Camus' "The Stranger," which he remarkably compares to Hemingway in terms of prose style. For Sartre, "The Stranger" is the great modern work exploring the fact of absurdity; he indicates that its primary strength is the co-existence of clarity and ambiguity.
"Is Existentialism a Humanism?" was the title of Sartre's famous lecture in October 1945 given to an overflow crowd and rapidly to become the talk of the left-bank cafes, then all of Paris and Europe. The talk started by proclaiming "existence precedes essence" which meant, he explained, that individuals create their own values because there is no moral order in the universe. This freedom is the ultimate value. The talk went on by echoing his book "Being and Nothingness". He gave the lecture to answer his critics among the communists and catholics. He needed to present a viable and relevant social philosophy in order to stand comparison with these two groups. He based his appeal on Kant's ethic of universal principles. He continued by arguing that we need a sense of responsibility for other people and society as a whole (which was different from his previous contentions). In asserting that Existentialism is a Humanism Sartre means that it places the human being at the center of its attention and at the apex of its value hierarchy. Our ultimate goal should be to foster the freedom of the individual. To read more about Existentialism see Thomas R. Flynn(2006) "Existentialism: A Very Short Introduction", Oxford University Press.
To wit: Existence precedes essence, and in any case is arbitrary. In this world, man is defined by the choices he makes and by his commitments to those choices. He does not define himself prior to his existence and exists only in the present, well beyond any concept of natural determinism. In Sartre's view, there is no human nature superior to that described here.
In short, there is no God; we have been abandoned to our fate. That point however should not be misconstrued as that Existentialism is only about Atheism. It simply affirms that even if a God existed, it would make no difference to our humanity.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
So Sartre famously denounced this talk later in his career. Honestly though, if you're a layman like me and just want to follow the evolution of human thought, this is fine for... Read morePublished 2 months ago by al
What can you say about Sartre that hasn't been said at least 3 million times...Published 3 months ago by George T. Jacoby
A Must have for anyone seeking a better understanding of Existentialism. Quick read but full of useful and meaningful information and concepts.Published 4 months ago by Ed Kopec
In this one talk Sartre provides a clear overview of the varying aspects of existentialism, clarifying each (as he is refuting arguments against the philosophy throughout) which... Read morePublished 7 months ago by ELT
Reading this book makes me wonder whether we really even have a purpose to live.Published 8 months ago by Rosemary Lacy
I bought this, for I had a casual interest in Sartre and his version of existentialism. Moreover, as I had just read Camus's THE STRANGER, and this book had Sartre's analysis of... Read morePublished 12 months ago by P. M. West