Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre (Short Review)

Foregoing polemical tirades, I will say that Jean-Paul Sartre’s grand speech (published by Yale press), known informally as Existentialism is a Humanism, is a wonderful introduction to existentialist philosophy as understood in Sartrean terms. Given during 1945 in Paris, France, this speech was to Sartre a sort of coming to terms, or coming out, of his philosophical understanding of human life; he purported to encourage humanity to live on their own terms as opposed to exterior terms imposed on individuals from oppressive forces. Such was a radical deviation from the norms of the time which stressed a soul-searching-esque routing to existentialist thinking while promoting a adherence to social norms. What Sartre offered was a medium for (presumably) upper-class philosophers to theorize the world within a praxis which refrained from squandering human potential yet advanced collective reasonability. Juggling between Christian fundamentalists on one side and communist orthodoxs on another, this was a delicate act for anyone existing in politically stratified France. Yet Sartre’s speech hit its mark: his words reached an audience and with the end of his landmark speech raised him to international standing. So while there is much more to be said about Sartre’s philosophy, I will leave those tidbits to another posts and simply say here that for anyone interested in an introduction to existentialist philosophy, you can do a lot worse than Sartre.


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