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Summer Reading: "Introducing Sartre"

I feel somewhat guilty for having read this book because every single page has a picture on it. (Okay, I enjoyed that part.) But at 170 pages, it makes for a quick 3 hours read.

I was already somewhat familiar with Existentialism having reading the 50-some-odd page essay on Existentialism at Stanford's Philosophy Encyclopedia. It was nice to cover it from the perspective of the life of an important individual in the school of thought.

Though I have trouble with Sartre's position on the authenticity of individual's pursuits in life; I do like his suggestion that the best we can do is to go about merrily playing the roles we imagine that we should be playing. Above all, the arguments for fundamental human freedom are the most compelling and are what I take most from this book. I especially liked the discussion of his short story "Intimité" from his book Le Mur.

The main character in that story, Lucienne, deliberately avoids making a choice between lovers to avoid having to carry the responsibility for either course of action. She eventually devises a plan to have two people representing both courses of action pull her in opposite directions: when one of them "wins" the decision has been made for her and, she believes, so has the responsibility for that decision been lifted from her shoulders. But really, all she has done is exercise bad faith and make a bad situation worse. Because, at any time after this point, she is free to choose to go to the other lover. She is doomed to be free.

I think that we can all relate to trying to avoid making decisions that carry heavy consequences.


color, uphair, smile
Jason D. Clinton

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September 2011


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