Existentialism Is A Humanism

Existentialism Is A Humanism

(L'Existentialisme Est Un Humanisme) ; Including, A Commentary on The Stranger (Explication De L'Étranger)

Book - 2007
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Yale University
It was to correct common misconceptions about his thought that Jean-Paul Sartre, the most dominent European intellectual of the post-World War II decades, accepted an invitation to speak on October 29, 1945, at the Club Maintenant in Paris. The unstated objective of his lecture (“Existentialism Is a Humanism”) was to expound his philosophy as a form of “existentialism,” a term much bandied about at the time. Sartre asserted that existentialism was essentially a doctrine for philosophers, though, ironically, he was about to make it accessible to a general audience. The published text of his lecture quickly became one of the bibles of existentialism and made Sartre an international celebrity.

The idea of freedom occupies the center of Sartre’s doctrine. Man, born into an empty, godless universe, is nothing to begin with. He creates his essence—his self, his being—through the choices he freely makes (“existence precedes essence”). Were it not for the contingency of his death, he would never end. Choosing to be this or that is to affirm the value of what we choose. In choosing, therefore, we commit not only ourselves but all of mankind.

This book presents a new English translation of  Sartre’s 1945 lecture  and his analysis of Camus’s The Stranger, along with a discussion of these works by acclaimed Sartre biographer Annie Cohen-Solal. This edition is a translation of the 1996 French edition, which includes Arlette Elkaïm-Sartre’s introduction and a Q&A with Sartre about his lecture.


Publisher: New Haven : Yale University Press, c2007
Description: xiv, 108 p. ; 20 cm
ISBN: 9780300115468
0300115466
Branch Call Number: 142.78 Sar

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lukasevansherman
Oct 06, 2017

"What we do we mean here by 'existence precedes essence'? We mean that man first exists: he materializes in the world, encounters himself, and only afterward defines himself. If man as existentialists conceive of him cannot be defined, it is because to begin with he is nothing."
I'd call this Sartre for dummies, but there's really no such thing. However, it is a short and accessible distillation of his philosophy and certainly far more manageable than his unwieldy magnum opus, "Being and Nothingness." The text is taken from a lecture he gave and this edition also includes a valuable introduction and Sartre's essay on Camus' "The Stranger." Best enjoyed while smoking a Gauloise and sipping espresso.

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