First published in 1990, _Existentialism_ is widely regarded as a classic introductory survey of the topic, and has helped to renew interest in existentialist philosophy. The author places existentialism within the great traditions of philosophy, and argues that it deserves as much attention from analytic philosophers as it has always received on the continent.
There are already many excellent books on existentialism. Some of them deal with particular problem or particular existentialist writers. Most of those that deal with existentialism as a whole divide their subject-matter according to authors, presenting chapters on Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre, and the rest. Thus I think that there is room for the present book, which attempts a comprehensive examination and evaluation of existentialism, but does so by thematic treatment. That is to say, each chapter deals with (...) a major theme of existentialist philosophy, and these themes are arranged in the order of the existential dialect. Of course, each chapter is illustrated with material from the writings of existentialists, from Kierkegaard to Camus. (shrink)
A collection of the author's most influential essays and short works includes her critique of existentialism, her two dialogues on art and religion, key texts on the continuing importance of the sublime, the concept of love, and more.
Existentialism enjoyed great popularity in the 1940s and 1950s, and has probably had a greater impact upon literature than any other kind of philosophy. The common interest which unites Existentialist philosophers is their interest in human freedom. Readers of Existentialist philosophy are being asked, not merely to contemplate the nature of freedom, but to experience freedom, and to practise it. In this survey, Mary Warnock begins by considering the ethical origins of Existentialism, with particular reference to Kierkegaard and (...) Nietzsche, and outlines the importance of a systematic account of man's connection with the world as expounded by Husserl. She discusses at length the common interests and ancestry of Existentialism in the works of Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Sartre, and offers some conclusions about the current nature and future of this committed and practical philosophy. This revised edition includes a postscript reviewing the status of Existentialism in the 1990s, and has a thoroughly updated bibliography. (shrink)
It was to correct common misconceptions about his thought that Jean-Paul Sartre, the most dominent European intellectual of the post-World War II decades, accepted an invitation to speak on October 29, 1945, at the Club Maintenant in Paris. The unstated objective of his lecture was to expound his philosophy as a form of “existentialism,” a term much bandied about at the time. Sartre asserted that existentialism was essentially a doctrine for philosophers, though, ironically, he was about to make (...) it accessible to a general audience. The published text of his lecture quickly became one of the bibles of existentialism and made Sartre an international celebrity. The idea of freedom occupies the center of Sartre’s doctrine. Man, born into an empty, godless universe, is nothing to begin with. He creates his essence—his self, his being—through the choices he freely makes. Were it not for the contingency of his death, he would never end. Choosing to be this or that is to affirm the value of what we choose. In choosing, therefore, we commit not only ourselves but all of mankind. This book presents a new English translation of Sartre’s 1945 lecture and his analysis of Camus’s _The Stranger_, along with a discussion of these works by acclaimed Sartre biographer Annie Cohen-Solal. This edition is a translation of the 1996 French edition, which includes Arlette Elkaïm-Sartre’s introduction and a Q&A with Sartre about his lecture. (shrink)
Webber argues for a new interpretation of Sartrean existentialism. On this reading, Sartre is arguing that each person’s character consists in the projects they choose to pursue and that we are all already aware of this but prefer not to face it. Careful consideration of his existentialist writings shows this to be the unifying theme of his theories of consciousness, freedom, the self, bad faith, personal relationships, existential psychoanalysis, and the possibility of authenticity. Developing this account affords many insights (...) into various aspects of his philosophy, not least concerning the origins, structure, and effects of bad faith and the resulting ethic of authenticity. This discussion makes clear the contributions that Sartre’s work can make to current debates over the objectivity of ethics and the psychology of agency, character, and selfhood. Written in an accessible style and illustrated with reference to Sartre’s fiction, this book should appeal to general readers and students as well as to specialists. (shrink)
Philosophy as a way of life -- Becoming an individual -- Humanism : for and against -- Authenticity -- A chastened individualism? Existentialism and social thought -- Existentialism in the twenty-first century.
This volume provides basic writings of Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Rilke, Kafka, Ortega, Jaspers, Heidegger, Sartre, and Camus, including some not previously translated, along with an invaluable introductory essay by Walter Kaufmann.
_Existentialism: An Introduction_ provides an accessible and scholarly introduction to the core ideas of the existentialist tradition. Kevin Aho draws on a wide range of existentialist thinkers in chapters centering on the key themes of freedom, being-in-the-world, alienation, nihilism, anxiety and authenticity. He also addresses important but often overlooked issues in the canon of existentialism, with discussions devoted to the role of embodiment, the movement’s contribution to ethics, politics, and environmental and comparative philosophies, as well as its influence on (...) contemporary psychiatry and psychotherapy. The enduring relevance of existentialism is shown by applying existentialist ideas to contemporary philosophical discussions of interest to a wide audience. The book covers secular thinkers such as Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, and Beauvoir as well as religious authors, such as Buber, Dostoevsky, Marcel, and Kierkegaard. In this engaging and accessible text Aho shows why existentialism cannot be easily dismissed as a moribund or outdated movement. In the aftermath of 'God’s death', existentialist philosophy engages questions with lasting philosophical significance, questions such as 'Who am I?' and 'How should I live?' By showing how existentialism offers insight into what it means to be human, the author illuminates existentialism’s enduring value. _Existentialism: An Introduction_ provides the ideal introduction for upper level students and anyone interested in knowing more about one of the most vibrant and important areas of philosophy today. (shrink)
Subjectivist permissivism is a prima facie attractive view. That is, it's plausible to think that what's rational for people to believe on the basis of their evidence can vary if they have different frameworks or sets of epistemic standards. In this paper, I introduce an epistemic existentialist form of subjectivist permissivism, which I argue can better address “the arbitrariness objection” to subjectivist permissivism in general. According to the epistemic existentialist, it's not just that what's rational to believe on the basis (...) of evidence can vary according to agents’ frameworks, understood as passive aspects of individuals’ psychologies. Rather, what's rational to believe on the basis of evidence is sensitive to agents’ choices and active commitments. Here I draw on Chang's work on commitment and voluntarist reasons. The epistemic existentialist maintains that what's rational for us to believe on the basis of evidence is, at least in part, up to us. It can vary not only across individuals but for a single individual, over time, as she makes differing epistemic commitments. (shrink)
There are two main accounts of what it is for external objects to be presented in visual experience. According to particularism, particular objects are built into the representational contents of experiences. Existentialism is a quite different view. According to existentialism, the representational contents of perceptual experiences are general rather than particular, in the sense that the contents can be fully captured by existentially quantified statements. The present paper is a defense of existentialism. It argues that existentialism (...) is much better equipped than particularism to explain the contents of hallucinations, and it defends existentialism against three objections. (shrink)
This volume brings together for the first time some of the most helpful and insightful essays on the four most influential and discussed philosophers in the history of existentialism: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre.
Existentialism concerning singular propositions is the thesis that singular propositions ontologically depend on the individuals they are directly about in such a way that necessarily, those propositions exist only if the individuals they are directly about exist. Haecceitism is the thesis that what non-qualitative facts there are fails to supervene on what purely qualitative facts there are. I argue that existentialism concerning singular propositions entails the denial of haecceitism and that this entailment has interesting implications for debates concerning (...) the philosophy of language, the nature of propositions, and the metaphysics of modality. (shrink)
Jonathan Webber articulates an original interpretation of existentialism as the ethical theory that human freedom is the foundation of all other values. Offering an original analysis of classic literary and philosophical works published by Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Frantz Fanon up until 1952, Webber's conception of existentialism is developed in critical contrast with central works by Albert Camus, Sigmund Freud, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. -/- Presenting his arguments in an accessible and engaging style, Webber contends that Beauvoir (...) and Sartre initially disagreed over the structure of human freedom in 1943 but Sartre ultimately came to accept Beauvoir's view over the next decade. He develops the viewpoint that Beauvoir provides a more significant argument for authenticity than either Sartre or Fanon. He articulates in detail the existentialist theories of individual character and the social identities of gender and race, key concerns in current discourse. Webber concludes by sketching out the broader implications of his interpretation of existentialism for philosophy, psychology, and psychotherapy. (shrink)
Existentialism and Romantic Love investigates the thinking of five existential philosophers (Max Stirner, Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir) to uncover fresh insights about what is wrong with our everyday ideas about romantic loving, why reality often falls short of the ideal, sources of frustrations and disappointments, and possibilities for creating authentically meaningful relationships.
This paper is concerned with a popular view about the nature of propositions, commonly known as the Russellian view of propositions. Alvin Plantinga has dubbed it, or more precisely, a crucial consequence of it, Existentialism, and in his paper “On Existentialism” (1983) he has presented a forceful argument intended as a reductio of this view. In what follows, I describe the main relevant ingredients of the Russellian view of propositions and states of affairs. I present a relatively simple (...) response Russellians might want to make to Plantinga’s anti-existentialist argument. I then explore one aspect of this response—one that leads to some rather curious consequences for the Russellian view of propositions and states of affairs. (shrink)
A wide range of decision-making models have been offered to assist in making ethical decisions in the workplace. Those that are based on normative moral frameworks typically include elements of traditional moral philosophy such as consequentialist and/or deontological␣ethics. This paper suggests an alternative model drawing on Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialism. Accordingly, the model focuses on making decisions in full awareness of one’s freedom and responsibility. The steps of the model are intended to encourage reflection of one’s projects and one’s situation (...) and the possibility of refusing the expectations of others. A case study involving affirmative action in South Africa is used to demonstrate the workings of the model and a number of strengths and weaknesses are identified. Despite several weaknesses that can be raised regarding existential ethics, the model’s success lies in the way that it reframes ethical dilemmas in terms of individual freedom and responsibility, and in its acceptance and analysis of subjective experiences and personal situations. (shrink)
Existentialism is a concern about the foundation of meaning, morals, and purpose. Existentialisms arise when some foundation for these elements of being is under assault. In the past, first-wave existentialism concerned the increasingly apparent inability of religion, and religious tradition, to provide such a foundation, as typified in the writings of Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, and Nietzsche. Second-wave existentialism, personified philosophically by Sartre, Camus, and de Beauvoir, developed in response to the inability of an overly optimistic Enlightenment vision of (...) reason and the common good to provide such a foundation. There is a third-wave existentialism, a new existentialism, developing in response to advances in the neurosciences that threaten the last vestiges of an immaterial soul or self. With the increasing explanatory and therapeutic power of neuroscience, the mind no longer stands apart from the world to serve as a foundation of meaning. This produces foundational anxiety. This collection of new essays explores the anxiety caused by this third-wave existentialism and some responses to it. It brings together some of the world’s leading philosophers, neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, and legal scholars to tackle our neuroexistentialist predicament and explore what the mind sciences can tell us about morality, love, emotion, autonomy, consciousness, selfhood, free will, moral responsibility, law, the nature of criminal punishment, meaning in life, and purpose. (shrink)
This book discusses the work of the existential phenomenologists - Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty and de Beauvoir - and the final chapter looks at the legacy of existentialism upon the thought of Derrida and other post-structuralist thinkers.
Existentialism exerts a continuing fascination on students of philosophy and general readers. As a philosophical phenomenon, though, it is often poorly understood, as a form of radical subjectivism that turns its back on reason and argumentation and possesses all the liabilities of philosophical idealism but without any idealistic conceptual clarity. In this volume of original essays, the first to be devoted exclusively to existentialism in over forty years, a team of distinguished commentators discuss the ideas of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, (...) Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty and Beauvoir and show how their focus on existence provides a compelling perspective on contemporary issues in moral psychology and philosophy of mind, language and history. A further sequence of chapters examines the influence of existential ideas beyond philosophy, in literature, religion, politics and psychiatry. The volume offers a rich and comprehensive assessment of the continuing vitality of existentialism as a philosophical movement and a cultural phenomenon. (shrink)
Late antique Gnosticism and Heidegger’s Existentialism are usually counted among the main theoretical targets of Hans Jonas’s philosophy of life and responsibility, since they are supposed to share the dualistic and nihilistic attitude the philosopher deemed most mistaken and pernicious. In particular, Gnosticism is commonly understood as the exact opposite of what Jonas strove to accomplish in his work. However, I think it is simplistic to relegate Gnosticism to a merely antagonistic role in the development of Jonas’s philosophy. My (...) claim is that Gnosticism, being a non-nihilistic form of dualism, might have been a relevant source of inspiration – although not the only one – for amending the flaws of Heidegger’s Existentialism. By taking a closer look at the essay Gnosticism, Existentialism, and Nihilism, this article aims to clarify the critical and constructive role that Gnosticism might have played in shaping some of the major traits of Jonas’s thought. The first part of this essay deals with Jonas’s ‘gnostic reading’ of Heidegger’s Existentialism and highlights the positive insights drawn from such interpretative strategy. The second part focuses on three main motives in Jonas’s philosophy that may be traced back to the gnostic narrative: value objectivity and vulnerability, human responsibility and involvement in the history of being, and the sense of belonging to a wider dimension capable of providing orientation and meaning to human life. (shrink)
I argue that the overt subjugation in the system of American slavery and its subsequent effects offer a case study for an existentialist analysis of freedom, oppression and humor. Concentrating on the writings and experiences of Frederick Douglass and the existentialists Simone De Beauvoir and Lewis Gordon, I investigate how the concepts of “spirit of seriousness”, “mystification”, and an existentialist reading of “double consciousness” for example, can elucidate the forms of explicit and concealed oppression. I then make the case that (...) subversive humor is an effective means to bring to consciousness the inconsistencies and incongruities of the serious oppressors. I also illustrate how humor can act as a bulwark against the rise and persistence of oppression by (non-violently) attacking the absolutist stance on human nature maintained through the use of dominating and “authoritative” language and action. (shrink)
As philosophical and scientific arguments for free will skepticism continue to gain traction, we are likely to see a fundamental shift in the way people think about free will and moral responsibility. Such shifts raise important practical and existential concerns: What if we came to disbelieve in free will? What would this mean for our interpersonal relationships, society, morality, meaning, and the law? What would it do to our standing as human beings? Would it cause nihilism and despair as some (...) maintain or would it rather have a humanizing effect on our practices and policies, freeing us from the negative effects of belief in free will? In this chapter we consider the practical implications of free will skepticism and argue that life without free will and basic desert moral responsibility would not be as destructive as many people believe. We argue that prospects of finding meaning in life or of sustaining good interpersonal relationships, for example, would not be threatened. On treatment of criminals, we argue that although retributivism and severe punishment, such as the death penalty, would be ruled out, preventive detention and rehabilitation programs would still be justified. While we will touch on all these issues below, our focus will be primarily on this last issue. -/- We begin in section I by considering two different routes to free will skepticism. The first denies the causal efficacy of the types of willing required for free will and receives its contemporary impetus from pioneering work in neuroscience by Benjamin Libet, Daniel Wegner, and John-Dylan Haynes. The second, which is more common in the philosophical literature, does not deny the causal efficacy of the will but instead claims that whether this causal efficacy is deterministic or indeterministic, it does not achieve the level of control to count as free will by the standards of the historical debate. We argue that while there are compelling objections to the first route—e.g., Al Mele (2009), Eddy Nahmias (2002, 2011), and Neil Levy (2005)—the second route to free will skepticism remains intact. In section II we argue that free will skepticism allows for a workable morality, and, rather than negatively impacting our personal relationships and meaning in life, may well improve our well-being and our relationships to others since it would tend to eradicate an often destructive form of moral anger. In section III we argue that free will skepticism allows for adequate ways of responding to criminal behavior—in particular, incapacitation, rehabilitation, and alternation of relevant social conditions—and that these methods are both morally justified and sufficient for good social policy. We present and defend our own preferred model for dealing with dangerous criminals, an incapacitation account built on the right to self-protection analogous to the justification for quarantine (see Pereboom 2001, 2013, 2014a; Caruso 2016a), and we respond to recent objections to it by Michael Corrado and John Lemos. (shrink)
Existentialism, 2/e, offers an exceptional and accessible introduction to the richness and diversity of existentialist thought. Retaining the focus of the highly successful first edition, the second edition provides extensive material on the "big four" existentialists--Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre--while also including selections from twenty-four other authors. Giving readers a sense of the variety of existentialist thought around the world, this edition also adds new readings by such figures as Luis Borges, Viktor Frankl, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Keiji Nishitani, and (...) Rainer Maria Rilke. Existentialism, 2/e, also features: New translations of Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Buber More extensive selections from Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre New selections by Hazel E. Barnes, Miguel de Unamuno, Joseph Heller, Philip Roth, and Colin Wilson The Grand Inquisitor (from Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov) Ideal for undergraduate courses in existentialism and Continental philosophy, Existentialism, 2/e, is fascinating reading for anyone interested in the subject. (shrink)
Situating existentialism within the history of ideas, it features new readings on the most influential works in the existential canon, exploring their formative contexts and the cultural dialogues of which they were a part.
In this essay I consider the question that divides quetism from existentialism and to defend a particular line on that question. The essay is in three main sections. In the first I set out a view of philosophy under which it grows out of reflection on the views that shape ordinary practice. In the second section I outline a theory as to how exactly practice commits us to such views. And then in the third section I argue on the (...) basis of that account that, notwithstanding serious difficulties, philosophy can feed back onto the views that inform practice and recast them in various ways. I reject the existentialist vision according to which there is no limit to how far philosophy may lead us to reconstruct ourselves. But I also reject the quietist view that philosophy must leave everything as it was. Under the picture adopted, philosophy can be expected to have a threefold impact--meditative, methodological, and moral--on people's habits of experience and behaviour. (shrink)
Existentialism was one of the leading philosophical movements of the twentieth century. Focusing on its seven leading figures, Sartre, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, de Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty and Camus, this Very Short Introduction provides a clear account of the key themes of the movement which emphasized individuality, free will, and personal responsibility in the modern world. Drawing in the movement's varied relationships with the arts, humanism, and politics, this book clarifies the philosophy and original meaning of 'existentialism' - which has (...) tended to be obscured by misappropriation. Placing it in its historical context, Thomas Flynn also highlights how existentialism is still relevant to us today. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable. (shrink)
This is especially clear in the case of Jean Paul Sartre's philosophy of freedom. Existentialists in general and Sartre in particular argue that an analysis, not of human nature, indeed, but of, say, "the universal human condition" reveals that certain kinds of behavior are morally appropriate and others morally reprehensible. My aim in this paper is to show that Sartre's analysis of "the universal human condition" is quite inconsistent with morality in anything like the ordinary sense. We might think that (...) attempt otiose in view of Sartre's notorious rejection of "absolute values." But in spite of his claim to dispense with absolute morality, Sartre's philosophy, like other existentialist philosophies, is through-and-through ethical. A concern with the human condition and its implications for morality is the moving force behind Sartre's thought. "Bad faith," "responsibility," "anguish,"--these and other ethical notions play a central role in Sartre's philosophy of freedom. Though he has in one sense rejected "absolute values" in another sense he accepts the absolute values of authenticity and good faith, recommends these values to others, and passes moral judgment upon those who live in "bad faith.". (shrink)
An exposition in five parts of the character of existentialist philosophy, including an analysis of the theories of Jean-Paul Sartre. Author Gabriel Marcel, a famous French dramatist, philosopher, and author of Le Dard, was a leading exponent of Christian existentialism.
The Existentialist Reader is a comprehensive anthology of classic philosophical writings from eight key existentialist thinkers: Sartre, Camus, Heidegger, de Beauvoir, Jaspers, Marcel, Merleau-Ponty, and Ortega y Gasset. These substantial and carefully selected readings consider the distinctive concerns of existentialism: absurdity, anxiety, alienation, death. A comprehensive introduction by Paul S. MacDonald illuminates the existentialist quest for individual freedom and authentic human experience with insight into the historical and intellectual background of these major figures. The Existentialist Reader is a valuable (...) guide to the provocative theories that shook the philosophical world in the 1930s and continue to profoundly shape the way we think about ourselves. (shrink)
I defend a neo-Kantian view wherein we are capable of being completely autonomous and impartial and argue that this ability can ground normativity. As this view includes an existentialist conception of the self, I defend radical choice, a primary component of that conception, against arguments many take to be definitive. I call the ability to use radical choice “existentialist voluntarism” and bring it into a current debate in normative philosophy, arguing that it allows that we can be distanced from all (...) ends at once so as to be completely impartial. Finally, I indicate how this can be the source of normativity as it provides a purely impartial reason for being rational. (shrink)
The purposes of writing -- The itinerary of a thought -- Vietnam : imperialism and genocide -- Czechoslovakia : the socialism that came in from the cold -- France : masses, spontaneity, party -- Kierkegaard : the singular universal -- Mallarmé : the poetry of suicide -- Tintoretto : St. George and the dragon -- The man with the tape-recorder -- Psychoanalytic dialogue -- Reply to Sartre--Pontalis -- Reply to Sartre--Pingaud -- A plea for intellectuals -- A friend of the (...) people. (shrink)
The posthumously published diaries and letters of Beauvoir and Sartre challenge the traditional account of Beauvoir as Sartre's philosophical follower. They show Sartre drawing on Beauvoir's account of relations with the Other in her metaphysical novel, She Came to Stay, as he began writing Being and Nothingness, and point to an unexplored Beauvoirean lineage of existentialism, including Bergson as well as Hegel, Kierkegaard, Husserl and Heidegger, and the African-American writer, Richard Wright.
Existentialism, Second Edition concentrates on the "big four" existentialists - Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre - while providing a strong sense of the breadth and variety of existentialist thought. In this edition, Solomon provides new translations of Kierkgaard, even more extensive Heidegger and Sartre selections, and bit more Nietzsche, as well as updated selections from a wide range of world authors. The resulting volume is an excellent introduction to the richness of existentialist thought and an outstanding sourcebook for the (...) classic existentialist texts. (shrink)