The Free Market Existentialist

The Free Market ExistentialistThe 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.

Here is a better description of The Free Market Existentialist:

THE FREE MARKET EXISTENTIALIST is unique because it is the first existentialist defense of libertarianism, bringing together two approaches that traditionally have been viewed as incompatible. Existentialists emphasize the importance of subjectively choosing one’s values and determining the meaning of one’s life. Libertarians champion strong property rights and the individual’s prerogative to live in any way that does not cause harm to others. Ultimately, individualism is the link between existentialism and libertarianism, producing a philosophy that values freedom and a corresponding responsibility.


· Why existentialism is the ideal balancing agent, the perfect partner for capitalism, allowing us to reap the benefits of a free market while encouraging us to resist crass consumerism.

· Why a free market existentialist must take the responsibility to choose work that he or she finds meaningful rather than aimlessly drifting into work that is alienating.

· Why the income tax is tantamount to theft and should be repealed. Instead, an “equal tax” policy is a better alternative, wherein the state is conceived as a club in which members pay equal dues for equal benefits.

· How evolutionary theory fits with existentialism to help us confront the “final delusion” of objective values.

· How love and law can largely replace the motivating role of conventional morality.

Not ending a debate but aiming to start one, Irwin proposes free market existentialism as a new competitor in the marketplace of ideas.

In clear and accessible prose, The Free Market Existentialist begins an important conversation for the 21st century that will be of interest to scholars, students, and the general public alike.

William Irwin is Herve A. LeBlanc Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of Philosophy at King’s William IrwinCollege in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Internationalist 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.

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