Sartre, like most of his existentialist colleagues, was too much the individualist to accept the idea of being part of a movement, no matter how exclusive.
Lecture given in Source: Existentialism from Dostoyevsky to Sartre, ed. World Publishing Company in ; Translator: My purpose here is to offer a defence of existentialism against several reproaches that have been laid against it.
First, it has been reproached as an invitation to people to dwell in quietism of despair. For if every way to a solution is barred, one would have to regard any action in this world as entirely ineffective, and one would arrive finally at a contemplative philosophy.
Moreover, since contemplation is a luxury, this would be only another bourgeois philosophy. This is, especially, the reproach made by the Communists. From another quarter we are reproached for having underlined all that is ignominious in the human situation, for depicting what is mean, sordid or base to the neglect of certain things that possess charm and beauty and belong to the brighter side of human nature: Mercier, we forget how an infant smiles.
Both from this side and from the other we are also reproached for leaving out of account the solidarity of mankind and considering man in isolation. The ego cannot reach them through the cogito.
From the Christian side, we are reproached as people who deny the reality and seriousness of human affairs. For since we ignore the commandments of God and all values prescribed as eternal, nothing remains but what is strictly voluntary.
Everyone can do what he likes, and will be incapable, from such a point of view, of condemning either the point of view or the action of anyone else. In any case, we can begin by saying that existentialism, in our sense of the word, is a doctrine that does render human life possible; a doctrine, also, which affirms that every truth and every action imply both an environment and a human subjectivity.
The essential charge laid against us is, of course, that of over-emphasis upon the evil side of human life. Those who can quite well keep down a novel by Zola such as La Terre are sickened as soon as they read an existentialist novel. Those who appeal to the wisdom of the people — which is a sad wisdom — find ours sadder still.
We all know how many common sayings can be quoted to this effect, and they all mean much the same — that you must not oppose the powers that be; that you must not fight against superior force; must not meddle in matters that are above your station. Or that any action not in accordance with some tradition is mere romanticism; or that any undertaking which has not the support of proven experience is foredoomed to frustration; and that since experience has shown men to be invariably inclined to evil, there must be firm rules to restrain them, otherwise we shall have anarchy.
Indeed their excessive protests make me suspect that what is annoying them is not so much our pessimism, but, much more likely, our optimism. For at bottom, what is alarming in the doctrine that I am about to try to explain to you is — is it not?
To verify this, let us review the whole question upon the strictly philosophic level. What, then, is this that we call existentialism? Most of those who are making use of this word would be highly confused if required to explain its meaning.
It would appear that, for the lack of any novel doctrine such as that of surrealism, all those who are eager to join in the latest scandal or movement now seize upon this philosophy in which, however, they can find nothing to their purpose.
For in truth this is of all teachings the least scandalous and the most austere: All the same, it can easily be defined. The question is only complicated because there are two kinds of existentialists.
There are, on the one hand, the Christians, amongst whom I shall name Jaspers and Gabriel Marcel, both professed Catholics; and on the other the existential atheists, amongst whom we must place Heidegger as well as the French existentialists and myself.
What they have in common is simply the fact that they believe that existence comes before essence — or, if you will, that we must begin from the subjective.
What exactly do we mean by that? If one considers an article of manufacture as, for example, a book or a paper-knife — one sees that it has been made by an artisan who had a conception of it; and he has paid attention, equally, to the conception of a paper-knife and to the pre-existent technique of production which is a part of that conception and is, at bottom, a formula.
Thus the paper-knife is at the same time an article producible in a certain manner and one which, on the other hand, serves a definite purpose, for one cannot suppose that a man would produce a paper-knife without knowing what it was for.
Let us say, then, of the paperknife that its essence — that is to say the sum of the formulae and the qualities which made its production and its definition possible — precedes its existence.
The presence of such-and-such a paper-knife or book is thus determined before my eyes. Here, then, we are viewing the world from a technical standpoint, and we can say that production precedes existence.
When we think of God as the creator, we are thinking of him, most of the time, as a supernal artisan. Whatever doctrine we may be considering, whether it be a doctrine like that of Descartes, or of Leibnitz himself, we always imply that the will follows, more or less, from the understanding or at least accompanies it, so that when God creates he knows precisely what he is creating.
Thus, the conception of man in the mind of God is comparable to that of the paper-knife in the mind of the artisan: God makes man according to a procedure and a conception, exactly as the artisan manufactures a paper-knife, following a definition and a formula.Critical Essays Sartrean Existentialism: An Overview Bookmark this page Manage My Reading List In learning about Sartrean existentialism, it is helpful to recall data .
Sep 29, · The concept of existentialism has been so stretched and misused that it needs be clarified with examples, with quotes from McCarthy’s books and with comparisons to quotes from other existential authors.
But which is the harder road? To whom does one owe the more brotherly love, the patriot or the mother? Which is the more useful aim, the general one of fighting in and for the whole community, or the precise aim of helping one particular person to live?
Existentialism is nothing else but an attempt to draw the full conclusions from a. Existentialism: a movement stressing personal freedom and responsibility in relation to existence.
(Geddes and Grosset, ) The Theme of Existentialism in Cormac McCarthy's The Road.
Sartrean Existentialism in the Road Essay. Michael Ross Jeff Bell 1, words 21st Century Lit - Sartrean Existentialism in the Road Essay introduction. Sartrean Existentialism In The Road McCarthy tells the story of a nameless father and son struggling to .
Sartrean Existentialism in the Road Essay Michael Ross Jeff Bell 1, words 21st Century Lit. Sartrean Existentialism In The Road McCarthy tells the story of a nameless father and son struggling to survive in the aftermath of an apocalyptic happening.