Arms and the Man: Metaphysical Stalinism

Arms and the Man: Metaphysical Stalinism

Sartre’s New View of Existentialism

The first volume of Sartre’s newly published Critique of Dialectical Reason contains two sections, and these, in the author’s own phrase, are “unequal in importance and ambition.” The first, entitled Questions of Method, written in 1957, “in response to the request by a Polish review for a treatment of the situation of Existentialism in 1957,” is the lesser work in length, though not in quality, and it has the virtue of being complete; the second section of the book, the Critique, will require another volume, possibly one as big as this first, which runs to some 750-odd densely written pages.

In his preface, the author remarks: “I dislike talking about Existentialism.” Clearly this announces a different Sartre from the one of twelve years back, who propagandized for Existentialism, calling it a “Humanism.” In Questions of Method he explains: “It is clear that the periods of philosophical creation are rare. Between the 17th and 20th centuries I know of only three, and these I identify with the following famous names: there was the moment of Descartes and of Locke, that of Kant and of Hegel, ...

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