~ Jean-Paul Sartre from Existentialism Is a Humanism
Jean-Paul Sartre was a French philosopher, novelist, playwright, and critic. He was a leading intellectual of the 20th century and the leading proponent of existentialism.
While reading Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot, I saw that James Stockdale included this book in his course syllabus on moral philosophy. So, of course, I immediately picked it up along with a bunch of the other titles. (We’ll be systematically working through that syllabus.)
Interestingly, both Stockdale and Sartre were prisoners of war. Sartre spent a year in a Nazi prison camp while Stockdale spent eight years in a North Vietnamese prison. In addition to sharing that experience, the two also share a FIERCE commitment to personal responsibility—which is, at the core, what both Stoicism and existentialism are all about.
(On that note, Viktor Frankl comes to mind—another man who suffered the indignities of war and wrote about the last freedom we each have: the freedom to choose our response to any given situation he describes in Man’s Search for Meaning.)
This short book is a transcript of a speech Sartre gave in 1945 to address many of the critics of existentialism. It’s a *remarkably* lucid, concise exposition on the primary tenets of existentialism—even more remarkable given the fact that Sartre gave this lecture without notes.
Let's explore some of my favorite Big Ideas:
1. Existential Anguish - + Its antidote.
2. Passion vs, Choice - Always your call.
3. Quietism vs. Commitment - Do what you're here to do.
4. The Stern Optimism - Of a ethical militant.
5. Moral Choices - As a work of art.
Here’s to having the courage to face the reality of our challenges and opportunities as we optimize, actualize and serve profoundly.
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