Thursday, November 28, 2013

Book - How To Be an Existentialist by Gary Cox

People who reject existentialism tend to do so not because they don’t understand it but because they can’t face it.  As Nietzsche writes in Beyond Good and Evil:  “I do not like it.” – Why? – “I am not up to it” – Has anyone ever answered like this?”   … understanding existentialism requires far more intellectual honesty and courage than cleverness and academic ability.

A person can know about existentialism and be convinced of its truth, but they are not a true existentialist if they make no effort to live the life. 

How to Be an Existentialist offers a truly enlightening introduction to existential thought and what the philosophy means in practice. It is not a straightforward philosophy to grasp and Cox does an admirable job in getting the key messages across. Unlike some of the modern strands of philosophy that tend to get lost in complexities and semantics, existentialism is offering a way out of the dark, but only for the brave.

How to Be an Existentialist is not written in the perfect conversationalist style but is so much better this than a dry, complex text on what can be a difficult subject.

I have several pages of quotes to copy out from this one, so expect a gradual drip-feed of existential advices over the coming weeks.Together, the snippets will provide a summary of the key aspects of the book, including concepts such as temporality, being-for-others, being-towards-death, freedom, authenticity, wilful ignorance and bad faith. The concepts all sound academic but Cox's explanations make them all clear as day and each is taking the time to ponder over.

**** (a slight change to the tone, some pictures, and a summary at the end, and I would have given How to Be an Existentialist the full five stars)

And here are some subject related comics from xkcd:

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