Sartre For Beginners
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by: Donald D. Palmer
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...an accessible, yet sophisticated introduction to the life and works of the famous French philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre. Sartre was a member the French underground during World War II, a novelist, a playwright, and a major influence in French political and intellectual life.
This book begins with a biographical section, introducing the significant events in the life of the man who coined the term, Existentialism. Then it examines Sartres early philosophical works. Ideas from Sartres other fictional and dramatic works are discussed, but the greatest part of the book is the presentation of the main concepts from Sartres Being and Nothingness (1943). These ideas include the topics of consciousness, freedom, responsibility, absurdity, bad faith, authenticity and the hellish confrontation with other people. Finally, the book deals with Sartres modification of his earlier existentialism to compliment his conversion to a kind of existential Marxism. Sartre For Beginners summarizes the work of the most renowned philosopher of the 20th century.
The text presents some of Sartre's ideas in a humorous way. For example: "We are condemned to be free", "Hell is other people", "Nothingness lies coiled in the heart of a being, like a worm", etc.
This book is not only informative but also humorous. There are many things that Sartre brings attention to that one has probably experienced in his/her own life but never noticed very much if at all. For example, Sartre's concepts of "being-for-itself" and "being-in-itself." If you are interested in an introduction to Sartre and the philosophy of existentialism, this is a good book to begin with. It's not a perfect (what is?!): some of the points were explained poorly, and the text got a little dry towards the end.
Human, All Too Human (BBC) - Jean Paul Sartre: Part 1