Incisive and engaging, The Free Market Existentialist proposes a new philosophy that is a synthesis of existentialism, amoralism, and libertarianism.
- Argues that Sartre’s existentialism fits better with capitalism than with Marxism
- Serves as a rallying cry for a new alternative, a minimal state funded by an equal tax
- Confronts the “final delusion” of metaphysical morality, and proposes that we have nothing to fear from an amoral world
- Begins an essential conversation for the 21st century for students, scholars, and armchair philosophers alike with clear, accessible discussions of a range of topics across philosophy including atheism, evolutionary theory, and ethics
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About the Author
William Irwin is Herve A. LeBlanc Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of Philosophy at King’s College in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Intentionalist Interpretation and scholarly articles on Sartre, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. Irwin originated the philosophy and popular culture genre of books with Seinfeld and Philosophy in 1999 and is currently the General Editor of The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Philosophies of Individualism 1
1 “Out, out, Brief Candle!”: What Do You Mean by Existentialism? 10
2 Like Cigarettes and Existentialism: Why There Is no Necessary Connection between Marxism and Sartre 33
3 To Consume or not to Consume?: How Existentialism Helps Capitalism 62
4 Why Nothing IsWrong: Moral Anti-realism 89
5 Not Going to Hell in a Handbasket: Existentialism and a World without Morality 112
6 What’s Mine Is Mine: Moral Anti-realism and Property Rights 132
7 Who’s Afraid of the Free Market?: Moral Anti-realism and the Minimal State 153
Conclusion: Not Your Father’s Existentialism 179
Select Bibliography 181
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was one of those books where I wasn’t 100% sure what I was getting into, but I was intrigued none-the-less. Is it a business book? How about a psychology book? Well, it’s sort of both, but it is most definitely a psychology book. There are some terms within that if you are not well versed in psychology or well-read on some of the authors and their handiwork you may be slightly lost. The author does a pretty great job explaining the different psychological theories and ideas within, but it’s still a higher level book. Now, I’m curious, who would/should read this? Well if you are a double major in Psych and Business — this book is extremely for you. If you want to know more about what Existentialism is, especially as it pertains to business and the “free market” this is exactly who this book was written for. The book is non-fiction, and written as a text book. With that being said — it’s dry. Text books have a tendency of being extremely dry — this one is no different. The thing I got out of this was that I would really enjoy to take a class that was based around some of the ideas discussed within the pages. I’m not necessarily the audience for this book, but I still enjoyed it. If the description sounds interesting to you, I don’t believe this book will be a let down.
The Free Market Existentialist by William Irwin is the kind of book you might discuss in a college classroom. For me its been a long time since I’ve seen the inside of a school. In fact I didn’t do well in philosophy and economics so I wasn’t so sure I would fully understand the book. In all honesty I didn’t understand every concept in the book but I did get a lot out of it. In this book William Irwin looks at three different ideas: Sartre’s existentialism is a better fit with capitalism than with Marxism, that we need to go beyond the “final delusion” of objective morality, and that libertarian political theory should be put into practice. Irwin describes ideas that don’t seem like they would work together and describes why they can work together. There are a lot of ideas in this book and Irwin takes the time to explain everything so anyone can understand it and come up with ideas of their own. The Free Market Existentialist is a book that will make you look at life differently. Irwin questions everything in this book and his goal seems to be to get his readers to question things in their world also. I personally loved his idea that you can be an existentialist and a capitalist. It is up to the person to make choices for himself what he chooses to buy. Existentialists don’t join groups to buy things in mass but they think there should be many choices for people. They want to have a free market for people to make money, but they won’t blindly spend their money like others do. If you have a love of philosophy and economics you will enjoy this book.
The book is an adult non-fiction. Author, who calls himself an existentialist, tries to put forth a conglomeration of free market and existentialism. During the first part of the book, author quotes several advocates of existentialism in the beginning. Nevertheless, his views are more concentrated around Sartre and his Existential Marxism. He shows us how Sartre evolved towards Marxism through his books Being and Nothingness, Critical Dialectical etc. Author argues that Sartre’s inclination is towards two different disciplines. These parts of the book is quite informative about the history of existentialism. It is written in a systematic manner. Later when author tried to put forth his views, we get another picture or outlook, I would say. While learning more about existentialism, I had a doubt about the validity of existentialism in terms of morality. It is then the author explains moral anti-realism. The chapter comes at the right time in tune with the reader’s mental process but at some points, author lost the grip and focus on the real subject. Later he changes the focus to capitalism, consumerism, and the free market possibility. Even while advocating a free market existentialism, the thought of minimal government made me think that he is a core existentialist. But this has nothing to do with the quality of the book. Hence, I would count it as a negative. I would not say that the book will convince the reader to become a free market existentialist but the book will definitely evoke a debate or argument on the topic and maybe we could find an optimal solution. The writing style is quite professional and maintains the academic standards. The research put in by the author is tremendous. The book is a quite informative and thought provoking one and it would definitely be in the shelves of the lovers of the similar genre.
I am a fan of philosophy, particularly the wisdom of Sartre and Nietzsche, and enjoy Economics 101 (huge fan of Freakonomics). In The Free Market Existentialist, I was very curious to see how the author would intertwine the two. As it turns out, he not only combined the concepts, he created a fast-paced and intellectually stimulating read. The book is, in short, fascinating. While it may not be an end-of-a-long-workday read, it is perfect for the college student, lover of philosophy, or anyone willing to delve into the complex world of existentialism, libertarianism, and capitalism that the author has so eloquently laid out. Irwin begins by proposing free market existentialism as a new competitor in the marketplace of ideas. He then links existentialism and libertarianism with individualism and then very orderly defines each and follows with how existentialism helps capitalism. You may need to reread one or two chapters, but there are plenty of opportunities to take notes. The extensive bibliography is worthy of a few sticky tabs, and you may need to have an extra highlighter on hand. This book, while largely cerebral, is not the dry intellectual rhetoric found in the pages of many books on the same subject. In fact, it just the opposite. The author clearly is in the habit of questioning the world around him, and wants you to do the same. His blend of wry observations and knowledge (he is a long-time professor and Chair of Philosophy) adds depth to and enriches each passage. And he does present a wide variety of topics: individualism, free will, moral anti-realism, capitalism, and a minimal state. Early in the book, the author created a Venn diagram with one circle of existentialism and one circle of capitalism, drew a circle in the middle, and invited the reader to step inside. This is essentially a microcosm of his ideas; that he is not advocating for a black and white, one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, he is combining seemingly incompatible ideas and perspectives to create a world view that is unique, thought provoking, and may even inspire you to put forth ideas of your own. After reading this book, draw your own Venn diagram and see where you land. You may be surprised.