I am beginning to read 'Being and Nothingness' by Sartre and I am relatively new to philosophy and the text is obviously difficult.

I was wondering if it is permitted on this site for me to ask questions explaining the meaning of text let's say two pages a day let's say, in order to create an online resource for the general public. I wouldn't mind typing up the questions in a organized manner and bring out the important parts. Ofcourse this would mean that in effect I would end up asking for 300 questions over the span of more than a year. I wanted ask first incase this is looked down upon or simply no allowed on this site. I guess it could be annoying haha like I am annoying my professor trying to understand this but in the end there could be something real useful for many people who come to pick up this text. So my question is: Does the community think it is a good idea?

  • 1
    It seems like a good idea, try it out - and see how well it goes; there is an art to writing good questions though - but this is one already. I think tying questions to text is a good idea - many questions don't do even that. Mar 2, 2016 at 10:46

2 Answers 2


I think one should not try to develop a kind of commentary for the whole book. But what seems fine to me and in fact a very good idea is trying to ask questions based on the text that adress all points you consider in any sense problematic.

What seems hard to do otherwise would be finding the amount of text necessary to make the question comprehendable, because what you always have to have in mind is the context in which the text stands that is to be interpreted.

  • This is not addressing the underlying issue. The main question is whether or not it's acceptable for one user to ask a series of questions to create an online resource. Sure, the OP stated that there is currently only one book, but what if we modify the question, replacing "one book" with "20 books"?
    – Pacerier
    Mar 14, 2016 at 11:34
  • Here's a link to the related question on english.SE. There are posts there, but currently there's still no conclusion on how to handle such issues.
    – Pacerier
    Mar 14, 2016 at 11:37
  • @Pacerier: Of course does this answer adress the main question and it does in three apects: The first aspect is that negativly, if the method was just to put in two pages every day and ask for interpretation, it would be a bad fit, because if the question does not adress a particular problem and provide its context, it is not answerable in any appropriate way. As a second aspect it is (implicitly) positivly suggesting a way of how to create an online resource in a manner fitting the conception of this site. And the third one is that it encourages to create an online resource.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Mar 14, 2016 at 12:34

We have certainly not objected to the similar project by LePressentiment on a set of basic logic texts. He has, in effect, created a fallback resource for all the areas of this particular curriculum where the author is vague.

To my mind, having allowed it once, it would be unfair to try to create a rule against it now. And I think doing it for a primary work is likely to be a better service to the community than doing it for so niche a work as a given introductory sequence in basic logic.

However, the format of competing interpretations suggests that this might not be very successful as a way of creating a resource. The same objections will arise over and over again when two people disagree on a single basic premise.

I might propose a blog of the main text as a better resource, with questions here that point at problematic areas. The commentary on such a blog might present the same kind of interlinear commentary as one often sees in editions of the Gita, or as Midrash upon the Torah, if with less earnest investment.

The set of questions here will not have comparable context, but it might bring commentators to the text from this site and get them engaged.

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