Use Of Existentialism In Martha Nussbaum's All Men Are Mortal

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Martha Nussbaum makes an important point when she suggests that literature is useful when it comes to understanding philosophy and philosophical concepts. In particular, Simone de Beauvoir’s All Men Are Mortal is useful in the way that Nussbaum describes because the treatment of existential concepts in the book allow the reader to gain insight into the life of a committed existentialist and into the desirability of this type of life. The book does so by being more accessible to readers and reaches a wider audience since it is not written using jargon like many dense philosophic writings. Also, the literary treatment of existentialism is insightful because the universal human desires and dilemmas that are explored inclines the reader to imagine…show more content…
The immortal Raymond Fosca allows people to understand human existence from a vastly different perspective. For Beauvoir, she chooses to use a character that cannot die to help understand the perspective of an atheistic existentialist even if the reader is personally identifies with neither of these concepts. This aspect of the book inspires people to move beyond thinking about an individual short life of one individual and consider the perspective of a person who is living forever. This encourages a person to use their imagination. There is no afterlife for Raymond Fosca and so everything he does takes place in the human world. It makes a person think about the limitations and constraints present in the human realm. Would the reader choose to live life in a different manner if the only thing that occurred in their life took place in the realm they currently occupy? The fictional scenario acts as a thought experiment for readers to ponder which helps them grasp what existentialism…show more content…
The four core concepts of existentialism, i.e. situatedness, despair, limitations, human agency and freedom, as well as concepts specifically designated in Sartre’s “The Humanism of Existentialism” can be found ‘in action’ within Beauvoir’s book. The situatedness of human life is explored in the way that Fosca is always set in a certain time and place that he cannot free himself from despite his immortality (215, 267). Anxiety and despair are found in many characters like Regina and Carlier when they come to realize that they will eventually perish and all they had was this one life (13, 229). Limitations are explored in many instances including Fosca’s inability to control the world in the way he wants in regards to his sons and failure to understand the world from a perspective beyond the human kind (100, 122; 276). Human agency and freedom are represented in Fosca’s ability to choose how he wants to live and interpret the life he continuously must live. In terms of bad faith, a concept described by Sartre, characters are shown as liars to themselves both in sticking too much with the facticity of their existence as well as believing that they can completely transcend the reality of their situations (167; 45). The inclusion of these multiple perspectives in the literature is beneficial beyond philosophic texts because the reader is given
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