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Sartre and Existentialism

  1. Aug 1, 2009 #1
    i bought Sartre's "being & nothingness" and have tried my best to comprehend it. to me it seems to be a mess,and i can make neither head nor tail of it. wikipedia didnt help much either. can someone steer me in the right direction or try to help me understand it? thanks in advance.

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 1, 2009 #2
    Sartre's 'Being and 'Nothingness' is essentially a position against determinism.
  4. Aug 1, 2009 #3
    determinism is what, in so many words? that term seems to get thrown around alot with sartre as well.
  5. Aug 1, 2009 #4
    You are correct in your assertion that Jean-Paul Sartre is associated with existentialism. Existentialism is, to say the least, a "base" system of beliefs that supports other types of beliefs (see ethic of Authenticity). Sartre was, in fact, as staunch supporter of existentialism. He believed that humans exist before they define themselves. This essentially means that as humans we have the ability to take initiative and shape ourselves. The key phrase associated with existentialism is "existence before essence", which sums up what I have said. Sartre wrote being and nothingness in a time of great turmoil. It was more or less of a call to the people of France to pull themselves up and truly live.

    Anyways, Sartre, because of his existentialist beliefs, was opposed to the idea of determinism. Determinism, as you may have guessed by now, is more or less of the idea that we have been pre-destined, our destinies already sealed by the time we come into existence. This ties in with the precept of pre-destination used by Calvinists if I recall correctly. There is a basic guideline, perhaps I rambled.

    Another fascinating existentialist was Martin Heidegger, though I must admit he is not easy to read if you are new to such texts.
  6. Aug 1, 2009 #5
    yes, calvinists believed in predestination.and yes, i am new to such texts.but i figured i'd start somewhere, and learn a bit of all the different ones so that i might be able to sort of formulate my own opinion on all this existing business. and thanks for the quick replies.
  7. Aug 1, 2009 #6
    thanks for confirming my thoughts on calvinism in that case
  8. Aug 1, 2009 #7
    youre welcome. i recently finished a european history course, and that was a considerable chapter.
  9. Aug 1, 2009 #8
    it just seems that the biggest hassle with being and nothingness is how he uses the same word in five different ways. it feels like semantics.needless to say, i read it when i want to fall asleep-it works marvelously.
  10. Aug 2, 2009 #9
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