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Socrates Meets Sartre : The Father of Philosophy Cross-Examines the Founder of Existentialism [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   222
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.56" Width: 5.92" Height: 0.63"
Weight:   0.54 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 12, 2005
Publisher   Ignatius Press
ISBN  0898709717  
EAN  9780898709711  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
This book is one of a series of Socratic explorations of some of the Great Books. The books in this series are intended to be short, clear, and non-technical, thus fully understandable by beginners. Through such Socratic dialogues, Peter Kreeft introduces (or reviews) the basic questions in the fundamental divisions of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, anthropology, ethics, logic, and method. In Socrates Meets Sartre, Kreeft takes the reader through the world of existentialist philosophy, posing questions that challenge the concepts that Sartre proposed. Based on an imaginary dialogue between Socrates and Sartre that takes place in the afterlife, this profound and witty book makes an entertaining and informative exploration of modern philosophy.

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More About Peter Kreeft

Peter Kreeft Peter J. Kreeft (Ph.D., Fordham University) was born in 1937 and is professor of philosophy at Boston College where he has taught since 1965. A popular lecturer, he has also taught at many other colleges, seminaries and educational institutions in the eastern United States. Kreeft has written more than fifty books, including The Best Things in Life, The Journey, How to Win the Culture War and, with Ronald Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics.

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1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > General   [14516  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Only for Kreeft fans  Aug 8, 2007
First, this work is not meant to explore or to refute existentialism as a whole. Nor is it meant to critique Sartre's philosophy as a whole. Rather, it is simply a Christian introduction to one of Sartre's essays, namely, 'Existentialism and Human Emotion' under the guide of a Socratic dialogue.

Second, this is not one of Kreeft's best works. If you are familiar with Kreeft's other Socratic dialogues you will be disapointed with this one. The Socratic wit, logic, and refutations of non-Christian thought are simply not here. In this dialogue, Socrates is portrayed as being rather subdued, not willing to engage in the socratic method as much, allowing Sartre to dig his own grave, as it were.

Third, the point of the book seems to be that Sartre's atheism, along with his conclusion that life is meaningless, is entirely consistent. If God does not exist, then life is meaningless. God does not exist, so life is meaningless. Not even Socrates can find a 'chink' in Sartre's armour. However, since most people will find Sartre's conclusion (that life is meaningless, or that life is hell) odious and unacceptable, they will be forced to conclude that God must exist. So: if God does not exist then everything is morally permissible. But obviously not everything is morally permissible. Therefore God exists. And so Socrates wonders whether Sartre is really a Christian prophet in disguise meant to scare atheists into the arms of their local priest.

I am not an expert in existentialist philosophy, let alone Sartre's philosophy, so I cannot judge whether or not Kreeft has accurately represented his views, or whether this book serves as a good introduction to the topic. I suspect that people looking to understand Sartre will want to turn elsewhere. People wanting an introduction to Kreeft will also want to turn elsewhere. And fans of Kreeft will only want this book for completeness' sake,
Good philosophy, bad rhetoric  Sep 26, 2006
Sartre is an interesting fellow in that while his philosophy as a philosophy is coherent and consistent, he himself is thoroughly inconsistent. Kreeft does an amazing job, praising Sartre at the proper points while pointing out his inconsistencies. This book is based off of Sartre's book "Existentialism and Human Emotions."

One glaring inconsistency of Sartre's (which Sartre probably didn't miss) is that he says that an atheist existentialist is deeply disturbed at there being no God, yet later on he says that God's existence is irrelevant. The latter comment came at the end of his speech "Existentialism and Human Emotions" and (I think) it was probably more of a rhetorical device.

Not only does Kreeft expose these flaws, but he makes a point at how frightening such a philosophy would be if true. But this leads me to my criticisms and the reason why I gave the book only 3 stars:

-too often he resorts to personal and needless attacks on Sartre.
-he is unfair to Sartre in the section regarding collective responsibility and war
-there are a few typos that can create significant confusion (this is probably due to an inadequate copy editor)
-And finally, Socrates often appeals "ad populum" and seems to value happiness over truth. By that I mean that it seems as if Socrates would rather believe a false philosophy of objectivity even if it means believing a falsehood. This is not the Socrates of Plato, or for that matter, of Kreeft's other books. It doesn't even seem like the Kreeft of the classroom who advocates being "tough-minded," that is, believing the truth even if it makes us absolutely miserable.

I enjoyed the book, but I felt too much of it was unnecessary and irrelevant to the discussion of Sartre's work to give it more than 3 stars.

As for the comment in another review about "Existentialism and Human Emotions" being a work Sartre rejected, Sartre did his best to live the philosophy presented in that book. He said too many things to take them all seriously.
Not Kreeft's Best  Feb 20, 2006
Sartre is the father of existentialism. Sartre's ideas follow from his atheism. He admits that if there is no god than there is no law giver and no absolute law. People are, therefor, free to choose their own values and people are the results of the choices they make. He does not prove that god does not exist but chooses to believe that there is no god.
However, unlike Plato's Socrates's which relies on almost entirely on logic Kreeft's Socrates often relies on popular opinion and personal attacks.
Waste Your Time and Money...  Oct 19, 2005
Author James Schall argues that in a culture driven by pragmatism and falsehoods the most profound and counter-cultural thing we can do is waste time. We can waste time doing something as useless as reading. If you want to understand existentialism from a Socratically examined perspective then you should waste your time and money on this book outstanding.
Don't Waste Your Money...  Sep 21, 2005
If you want to gain a fair understanding of Sartre's philosophy, don't bother reading this breathtakingly bad book. You'd do better reading virtually any other book, or better yet, reading an anthology of Sartre's own works and forming your own opinions. There have been countless published critiques of Sartre's philosophy, some favorable, some unfavorable, but it would be difficult, I think, to find one that so readily dispenses with objectivity, and so eagerly resorts to distortion and personal attacks. Yet Kreeft cleverly seeks to mask his bias, and lend some legitimacy to his shameless axe-grinding, by posing as Socrates. The informal, dialogue format allows Kreeft to say virtually anything he wants, without being held accountable. It is a consummate hatchet job.

You should be aware, up front, that Kreeft's whole book is focused on a single lecture Sartre gave early in his career,in 1945, which was then published as a small book/essay entitled "Existentialism and Human Emotion" (the publication of which Sartre himself later regretted). This is akin to explaining Picasso's entire career by examining an early, tossed-off sketch. That Kreeft calls it Sartre's "best book" is simply stunning. However, since Sartre's lecture does have introductory merit, is easy to read, and is much shorter than Kreeft's book, why not go to the source and read Sartre's book instead? Kreeft blissfully (or maliciously) ignores virtually the entire vast body of Sartre's works, even his major works. In fact, it's apparant Kreeft has never read Sartre's major and massive "Critique of Dialectical Reason", or "Notebooks for an Ethics", or even books about them, for if he had, he wouldn't have been able to write this book, unless he was being dishonest or willfully ignorant.

Unquestionably, the root of Kreeft's malice is that Sartre was an unabashed atheist, whereas Kreeft (and his artificial Socrates!)is avowedly Christian. However, many Christians have written books about Sartre (and there are, indeed, Christian existentialists)and have still managed to present reasonably open-minded and fair criticisms.

Here is a typical sample of the philosophical exchanges in this book.

Socrates: "No one who values wisdom, virtue, or happiness will accept [your philosophy]: neither Christians nor Buddhists nor Muslims nor agnotics nor humanists, nor even most atheists. Neither progressives nor conservatives, neither capitalists nor communists. Not poets or scientists or farmers or garbage collectors or professors..."

Sartre: "If humanity is so set against me, why was I the most popular philosopher of the twentieth century? I was adored. Millions turned out for my funeral."

Socrates: I was speaking of humanity. You are speaking of France."

Here's another cute insult "Socrates" levels at Sartre: "You could have been Jean-Paul the Great. But that name will be given to another, with whom you will never be confused. You are Jean-Paul the Small."

Probably the most appallingly unjust insult Kreeft makes about Sartre is that he "despise"(d) "the masses." It's appalling because there have been few philosophers in history who have written so much, and been so politically active, on behalf of oppressed peoples (Sartre was a socialist). In fact, his apartment was twice bombed in 1960 for his support of Algerian independence from France. I suggest reading any biography of Sartre to see how gross Kreeft's comment is.

As I said, if you are interested in a reasonably objective introduction to Sartre's work, don't waste your time and money on this one.

Note to Ignatius Press, the book's publisher: There is a confusing misquote on page 19, line 22. The last word in that line is "existence", not "essence".


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