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Being and Nothingness

Being and Nothingness

Born in Paris in 1905, Sartre was a professor of philosophy when he joined the French Army at the outbreak of World War II. Captured by the Germans, he was released, after nearly a year, in 1941. He immediately joined the French resistance as a journalist. In the postwar era Jean-Paul Sartre – philosopher, critic, novelist, and dramatist – became one of the most influential men of this century. He died in Paris in 1980.Jean-Paul Sartre, the seminal smarty-pants of mid-century thinking, launched the existentialist fleet with the publication of Being and Nothingness in 1943. Though the book is thick, dense, and unfriendly to careless readers, it is indispensable to those interested in the philosophy of consciousness and free will. Some of his arguments are fallacious, others are unclear, but for the most part Sartre’s thoughts penetrate deeply into fundamental philosophical territory. Basing his conception of self-consciousness loosely on Heidegger’s “being,” Sartre proceeds to sharply delineate between conscious actions (“for themselves”) and unconscious (“in themselves”). It is a conscious choice, he claims, to live one’s life “authentically” and in a unified fashion, or not–this is the fundamental freedom of our lives.

Drawing on history and his own rich imagination for examples, Sartre offers compelling supplements to his more formal arguments. The waiter who detaches himself from his job-role sticks in the reader’s memory with greater tenacity than the lengthy discussion of inauthentic life and serves to bring the full force of the argument to life. Even if you’re not an angst-addicted poet from North Beach, Being and Nothingness offers you a deep conversation with a brilliant mind–unfortunately, a rare find these days. –Rob Lightner

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Customer Reviews

241 of 245 people found the following review helpful 5.0 out of 5 stars
Buy the ugly white cover, not the orange one., July 10, 2004 By  J. Gamber (Baltimore, MD, USA) – See all my reviews
(REAL NAME) Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

Not because the white one is better. They are the same translation. The orange one is ABRIDGED, which is mentioned nowhere on this website, as if the two books are the same.
They don’t even have the same publisher.
Trust me: unless you can find the 1956 edition from the Philosophical Library, buy the white version from Washington Square Press. The Citadel Press edition is abridged and more expensive. Even if it has a nicer looking cover, don’t buy it.

76 of 78 people found the following review helpful 5.0 out of 5 stars
Review from a layman, June 30, 1999 By A Customer This review is from: Being and Nothingness (Hardcover) If you are just getting your feet wet in ontology then this book will be very challenging and often frustrating. As you slowly become accustomed to the terminology and basic ontological concepts, the book becomes more and more readable and enjoyable. If you ever felt you were all alone in your existential dilemmas, then this book will provide great comfort. Everything is here in this book if you are willing to take the time. Contrary to an earlier review, this book makes perfect sence and every concept is backed up with logical analysis. Sartre is very good about providing clear and concise examples to all of his concepts. This is not a philosphical treatise on ethics so it is hard to understand why an earlier review labeled it as dogmatic (that person must be referring to a different work by Sartre). A dogma based on nothingness is hardly any kind of dogma.
113 of 122 people found the following review helpful 1.0 out of 5 stars
A bad edition of a great book, April 21, 2008 By  Joel F. Richeimer (Gambier, OH) – See all my reviews
Being and Nothingness is a difficult but great book. This edition is terrible. It omits some of the central passages of this classic. For instance, the beautiful section on the ‘Patterns of Bad Faith’ are deleted. If you carefully read the inside of the jacket, it does say it is an abridged edition. That would not be bad if they deleted unimportant sections. Instead the publisher deleted key sections which they reprinted in their edition of Essays in Existentialism. So you are forced to buy two of their books.
If you want a copy of Being and Nothingness, get the Washington Square Press edition or the Routledge edition.
Last modified on Thursday, 22 September 2016 20:59

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