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Title: The Remarkable Existentialists
Contributor(s): Fox, Michael Allen  (author)
Publication Date: 2009
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Abstract: Why are so may people still drawn to existentialism even though its heyday is well past? Because it addresses everyone's vital concerns like no other philosophy: relationships, love, sex, honesty and role-playing, bigotry, anxiety, aloneness, absurdity and meaning, doubt and uncertainty, God and faith, the limits of language, emotions and moods, freedom, courage, self-realization, suicide and death. General readers find it challenging, inspiring, and helpful in gaining a fuller perspective on their lives. High school and university students encounter existentialism as a refreshing change from other courses that come across as dry, overly intellectualized, and focused on academic minutiae, facts, and fixed opinions. Thus, while all of the principal existentialists and many of their first-generation disciples and interpreters are dead and gone, the spirit of existentialism unquestionably survives. American philosopher Hazel Barnes, an existentialist author and translator of Sartre's 'Being and Nothingness' into English, once remarked: "It used to be that people regarded Sartre, Camus, and so forth as the latest thing: obviously they don't now. But you know the old Quaker expression, 'it speaks to my condition'? Well, the students still feel that; and I find that both when I speak around the country and in my own classroom." An even stronger statement comes from The Teaching Company (producers of audiovisual materials for self-education) in the 'New York Times': "Existentialism is one of the most exciting and enduring philosophies of the 20th century. It is philosophy at work in the trenches of life, calling us to immediate awareness, commitment, and passion. If these ideas are new for you, so is life." We will seek to understand together, in the pages that follow, what the sources of this intense interest and enthusiasm are, and to develop an appreciation of the lasting contribution to philosophical inquiry made by the remarkable group of thinkers known as existentialists. This book is a tribute to their creative imagination, talent, and ability to stimulate and empower us. The focus of our investigation will be on Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, and de Beauvoir, who collectively brought existentialism from its beginnings to its maturity, and whose work constitutes its fullest expression. A range of concepts characteristic of existential discourse will be explored, and special attention will be devoted to the existentialists' distinctive style of argument. People come to the study of existentialism from all walks of life, all viewpoints, and a wide variety of backgrounds. (As a teacher, I have always found that this synergy enhances the classroom experience for everyone, and it has benefited me immeasurably as an educator.) Existentialism has also enriched numerous other areas of inquiry: literature, film, theater, education, theology, psychology, and psychiatry, to name a few. So even apart from the intrinsic interest of the subject, it is worthwhile knowing more about this fascinating philosophy because of its assimilation into the cultural mainstream of our time and its function within society as an important catalyst to the development of new ideas and forms of creative expression.
Publication Type: Book
Publisher: Humanity Books
Place of Publication: Amherst, N.Y.
ISBN: 9781591026389
Field of Research (FOR): 220210 History of Philosophy
HERDC Category Description: A1 Authored Book - Scholarly
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Extent of Pages: 323
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Downloads: 2
Appears in Collections:Book

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