Ryan Milbrath's Reviews > Being and Nothingness

Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre
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's review
Aug 09, 2011

really liked it

I'm no philosophy major and have taken just a few philosophy courses. However, I've talked to numerous philosopher majors and professors. At the very mention of Sartre or existentialism there is rather elitist witty reply that serves to cut down this movement in continental philosophy. The often heard reply the "self-help" philosophy or philosophy written for the masses. I'm not quite sure I actually view these as either correct nor slight against Sartre or existentialism. After reading Being and Nothingness I'm not quite sure the average working-class masses, i.e. my neighborhood and parents would be able to read this book. Consequently, I find the reply "philosophy written for the masses" charge a little faulty.

Sartre's Being and Nothingness is, I believe a hallmark in Modern Existentialism. Although he makes allusions to Heidegger, Husserl and Hegel, his philosophy is distinctly different from mysticism of Heidegger, the phenomonlogical reduction of Husserl and the mystical dialectic of Hegel. At times I feel Sartre is more concrete in his analysis of being than these particular philosophers, but I'm not saying that this is a good thing either. Overall, I feel several parts of the book could be condensed or ommitted because they basically reiterate the same ideas Sartre had proposed in the first chapter and first section. I would recommend reading the whole book, and then referring repeatedly to specific sections to master Sartre's interpretation of being. Sartre is not for everyone, but to merely dismiss him as a lowly stooge of Heidegger and Husserl would be a great disservice to him.
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