My interest in the book, “No Excuses: Existentialism And The Meaning Of Life“, stems from my fascination with the philosophical feud between Camus and Sartre. Can rebels rebel without violence? Or is violence avoidable if rebels want to achieve their goal? Can freedom and justice coexist peacefully? Is absolute freedom something against freedom? Is absolute justice something against justice? At first I didn’t know where to obtain the original book review by Sartre on Camus’ book “Rebel”. Then I realized, after a bit of search on the internet, there are two books on their famous confrontation, “Camus and Sartre: The Story of a Friendship and the Quarrel that Ended It” and “Sartre and Camus: A Historic Confrontation”. I don’t have a burning curiosity about philosophy, except one or two questions that I would like to answer. These two books will probably shed some light on the questions I am interested in.
So is the title too absolute? “No Excuses” seems to be too extreme a notion. If Sartre advocates such an extreme notion, why does he continuously find excuses for Stalin? Is it Sartre’s view that in a society where everybody is practicing such stringent self negation and social monitoring, dictators will not gain grounds and grow into destructive force? A quick review of human history will be enough to convince us that most societies behave like an irrational idiot rather than a rational philosopher. Even the most admired democracy–the ancient Athenians–behaved in the most irrational and self destructive way when they voted to send a big fleet to Syracuse to open a second war front that they couldn’t handle in 413BC.