Sartre’s “Existentialism Is a Humanism” and Choosing for All Mankind

06 Jun

Frank DeVita

Sartre’s “Existentialism is a Humanism” is a defense of existentialism “against several reproaches that have been laid against it” (345). The reproaches at hand interpret existentialism as “ an invitation to dwell in the quietism of despair” and a movement that strives to highlight those aspects of human nature that lack the charm and beauty that belong to the “brighter side of human nature” (ibid.). In the essay, Sartre argues to refute these claims and makes two important ones along the way that are principles of existentialism in general. The first claim is that, for the existentialists, “existence comes before essence” (EH 348). The second concerns conduct – “[we mean] that in choosing for himself [man] chooses for all men” (EH 350). These two claims are contradictory prima facie, for the former implies that an essence is not the foundation of our existence and the latter implies that our…

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Posted by on June 6, 2015 in General News


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