Existentialism was born in the nineteenth century and came of age in mid-twentieth-century France. Here, three major texts offer an introduction to the philosophy, which emphasizes individual existence, freedom, and personal responsibility while acknowledging the suffering and dread that can accompany our striving for such values.
Essays in Metaphysics: Identity and Difference by Martin Heidegger
In the two lectures translated here, Heidegger provides illuminating insights and touches upon many a vital issue, including our technological age, religion, language, history, and more. His receptiveness, sensitivity, and ability to be at the heart of the problem are represented here, offering a deeper appreciation of the teacher and man who gave the world works such as Being and Time.
The Ethics of Ambiguity by Simone de Beauvoir
The second major essay by the groundbreaking author of The Second Sex and a classic introduction to Existentialist thought, The Ethics of Ambiguity simultaneously pays homage to and grapples with de Beauvoir’s French contemporaries, philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, by arguing that the freedoms of existentialism carry certain ethical responsibilities. While contemplating nihilism, surrealism, existentialism, objectivity, and human values, de Beauvoir outlines a series of “ways of being” (the adventurer, the passionate person, the lover, the artist, and the intellectual) that allows us to live up to the responsibilities of freedom.
The Philosophy of Existentialism: Selected Essays by Jean-Paul Sartre
The Philosophy of Existentialism collects representative essays on Jean-Paul Sartre’s pioneering subject. Beginning with a thoughtful introduction by fellow French philosopher Jean Wahl, this work looks at existentialism through several lenses, exploring topics such as the emotions, imagination, nothingness, freedom, responsibility, and the desire to be God. By providing exposition on a variety of subjects—including aesthetics, emotions, writing, phenomenology, and perception—The Philosophy of Existentialism is a valuable introduction to Sartre’s ideas.
L’Imaginationwas published in 1936 when Jean-Paul Sartre was thirty years old. Long out of print, this is the first English translation in many years. The Imagination is Sartre’s first full philosophical work, presenting some of the basic arguments concerning phenomenology, consciousness and intentionality that were to later appear in his master works and be so influential in the course of twentieth-century philosophy.
Sartre begins by criticising philosophical theories of the imagination, particularly those of Descartes, Leibniz and Hume, before establishing his central thesis. Imagination does not involve the perception of ‘mental images’ in any literal sense, Sartre argues, yet reveals some of the fundamental capacities of consciousness. He then reviews psychological theories of the imagination, including a fascinating discussion of the work of Henri Bergson. Sartre argues that the ‘classical conception’ is fundamentally flawed because it begins by conceiving of the imagination as being like perception and then seeks, in vain, to re-establish the difference between the two. Sartre concludes with an important chapter on Husserl’s theory of the imagination which, despite sharing the flaws of earlier approaches, signals a new phenomenological way forward in understanding the imagination.
The Imagination is essential reading for anyone interested in the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre, phenomenology, and the history of twentieth-century philosophy.
This new translation includes a helpful historical and philosophical introduction by Kenneth Williford and David Rudrauf. Also included is Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s important review of L’Imagination upon its publication in French in 1936.
Translated by Kenneth Williford and David Rudrauf.
The Philosophy of Existentialism collects representative essays on Jean-Paul Sartre’s pioneering subject: existentialism. Beginning with a thoughtful introduction by fellow French philosopher Jean Wahl, this worklooks at existentialism through several lenses, exploring topics such as the emotions, imagination, nothingness, freedom, responsibility, and the desire to be God. By providing exposition on a variety of subjects, The Philosophy of Existentialism is a valuable introduction to Sartre’s ideas.
In The Emotions: Outline of a Theory, French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre attempts to understand the role emotions play in the human psyche. Sartre analyzes fear, lust, anguish, and melancholy while asserting that human beings begin to develop emotional capabilities from a very early age, which helps them identify and understand the emotions’ names and qualities later in life.
Helping to complete the circle of Sartre’s many theories on existentialism, this vital piece of literature is a must-have for the philosopher-in-training’s collection.
In 1961, the prolific French intellectual Jean-Paul Sartre was invited to give a talk at the Gramsci Institute in Rome. In attendance were some of Italy’s leading Marxist thinkers, such as Enzo Paci, Cesare Luporini, and Galvano Della Volpe, whose contributions to the long and remarkable discussion that followed are collected in this volume, along with the lecture itself. Sartre posed the question “What is subjectivity?”—a question of renewed importance today to contemporary debates concerning “the subject” in critical theory. This work includes a preface by Michel Kail and Raoul Kirchmayr and an afterword by Fredric Jameson, who makes a rousing case for the continued importance of Sartre’s philosophy.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Nausea is the story of Antoine Roquentin, a French writer who is horrified at his own existence. In impressionistic, diary form he ruthlessly catalogs his every feeling and sensation. His thoughts culminate in a pervasive, overpowering feeling of nausea which “spreads at the bottom of the viscous puddle, at the bottom of our time — the time of purple suspenders and broken chair seats; it is made of wide, soft instants, spreading at the edge, like an oil stain.”
Winner of the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature (though he declined to accept it), Jean-Paul Sartre — philosopher, critic, novelist, and dramatist — holds a position of singular eminence in the world of French letters. La Nausée, his first and best novel, is a landmark in Existential fiction and a key work of the twentieth century.
An existential portrayal of Hell in Sartre's best-known play, as well as three other brilliant, thought-provoking works: the reworking of the Electra-Orestes story, the conflict of a young intellectual torn between theory and conflict, and an arresting attack on American racism.
The Transcendence of the Ego is the outcome of Sartre's intense engagement with the philosophy of Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology. Here, as in many subsequent writings, Sartre embraces Husserl's vision of phenomenology as the proper method for philosophy. But he argues that Husserl's conception of the self as an inner entity, 'behind' conscious experience is mistaken and phenomenologically unfounded.
The Transcendence of the Ego offers a brilliant diagnosis of where Husserl went wrong, and a radical alternative account of the self as a product of consciousness, situated in the world.
This essay introduces many of the themes central to Sartre's major work, Being and Nothingness: the nature of consciousness, the problem of self-knowledge, other minds, anguish. It demonstrates their presence and importance in Sartre's thinking from the very outset of his career.
This fresh translation makes this classic work available again to students of Sartre, phenomenology, existentialism, and twentieth century philosophy. It includes a thorough and illuminating introduction by Sarah Richmond, placing Sartre's essay in its philosophical and historical context.
With a new foreword by Sebastian Gardner.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the bestselling author of The Black Swan and one of the foremost thinkers of our time, reveals how to thrive in an uncertain world.
Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, and rumors or riots intensify when someone tries to repress them, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls “antifragile” is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish.
In The Black Swan, Taleb showed us that highly improbable and unpredictable events underlie almost everything about our world. In Antifragile, Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better.
Furthermore, the antifragile is immune to prediction errors and protected from adverse events. Why is the city-state better than the nation-state, why is debt bad for you, and why is what we call “efficient” not efficient at all? Why do government responses and social policies protect the strong and hurt the weak? Why should you write your resignation letter before even starting on the job? How did the sinking of the Titanic save lives? The book spans innovation by trial and error, life decisions, politics, urban planning, war, personal finance, economic systems, and medicine. And throughout, in addition to the street wisdom of Fat Tony of Brooklyn, the voices and recipes of ancient wisdom, from Roman, Greek, Semitic, and medieval sources, are loud and clear.
Antifragile is a blueprint for living in a Black Swan world.
Erudite, witty, and iconoclastic, Taleb’s message is revolutionary: The antifragile, and only the antifragile, will make it.
Praise for Antifragile
“Ambitious and thought-provoking . . . highly entertaining.”—The Economist
“A bold book explaining how and why we should embrace uncertainty, randomness, and error . . . It may just change our lives.”—Newsweek
“Revelatory . . . [Taleb] pulls the reader along with the logic of a Socrates.”—Chicago Tribune
“Startling . . . richly crammed with insights, stories, fine phrases and intriguing asides . . . I will have to read it again. And again.”—Matt Ridley, The Wall Street Journal
“Trenchant and persuasive . . . Taleb’s insatiable polymathic curiosity knows no bounds. . . . You finish the book feeling braver and uplifted.”—New Statesman
“Antifragility isn’t just sound economic and political doctrine. It’s also the key to a good life.”—Fortune
“At once thought-provoking and brilliant.”—Los Angeles Times
From the Hardcover edition.
Ahmed draws on the intellectual history of happiness, from classical accounts of ethics as the good life, through seventeenth-century writings on affect and the passions, eighteenth-century debates on virtue and education, and nineteenth-century utilitarianism. She engages with feminist, antiracist, and queer critics who have shown how happiness is used to justify social oppression, and how challenging oppression causes unhappiness. Reading novels and films including Mrs. Dalloway, The Well of Loneliness, Bend It Like Beckham, and Children of Men, Ahmed considers the plight of the figures who challenge and are challenged by the attribution of happiness to particular objects or social ideals: the feminist killjoy, the unhappy queer, the angry black woman, and the melancholic migrant. Through her readings she raises critical questions about the moral order imposed by the injunction to be happy.
Animal tracks, word magic, the speech of stones, the power of letters, and the taste of the wind all figure prominently in this intellectual tour de force that returns us to our senses and to the sensuous terrain that sustains us. This major work of ecological philosophy startles the senses out of habitual ways of perception.
For a thousand generations, human beings viewed themselves as part of the wider community of nature, and they carried on active relationships not only with other people with other animals, plants, and natural objects (including mountains, rivers, winds, and weather patters) that we have only lately come to think of as "inanimate." How, then, did humans come to sever their ancient reciprocity with the natural world? What will it take for us to recover a sustaining relation with the breathing earth?
In The Spell of the Sensuous David Abram draws on sources as diverse as the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty, Balinese shamanism, Apache storytelling, and his own experience as an accomplished sleight-of-hand of magician to reveal the subtle dependence of human cognition on the natural environment. He explores the character of perception and excavates the sensual foundations of language, which--even at its most abstract--echoes the calls and cries of the earth. On every page of this lyrical work, Abram weaves his arguments with a passion, a precision, and an intellectual daring that recall such writers as Loren Eisleley, Annie Dillard, and Barry Lopez.
For the legions of readers who treasure Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, and who savor cogent analysis and provocative discussion of Ayn Rand's thoughts and beliefs, Understanding Objectivism takes the stimulating study of Rand's philosophy to the next level.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
John Russon's Human Experience draws on central concepts of contemporary European philosophy to develop a novel analysis of the human psyche. Beginning with a study of the nature of perception, embodiment, and memory, Russon investigates the formation of personality through family and social experience. He focuses on the importance of the feedback we receive from others regarding our fundamental worth as persons, and on the way this interpersonal process embeds meaning into our most basic bodily practices: eating, sleeping, sex, and so on. Russon concludes with an original interpretation of neurosis as the habits of bodily practice developed in family interactions that have become the foundation for developed interpersonal life, and proposes a theory of psychological therapy as the development of philosophical insight that responds to these neurotic compulsions.
This book will provide readers with all the help they will need to find their own way in Sartre’s works. Author David Detmer provides a clear, accurate, and accessible guide to Sartre’s work, introducing readers to all of his major theories, explaining the ways in which the different strands of his thought are interrelated, and offering an overview of several of his most important works.
Sartre was an extraordinarily versatile and prolific writer. His gigantic corpus includes novels, plays, screenplays, short stories, essays on art, literature, and politics, an autobiography, several biographies of other writers, and two long, dense, complicated, systematic works of philosophy (Being and Nothingness and Critique of Dialectical Reason). His treatment of philosophical issues is spread out over a body of writing that many find highly intimidating because of its size, diversity, and complexity.
A distinctive feature of this book is that it is comprehensive. The vast majority of books on Sartre, including those that are billed as introductions to his work, are highly selective in their coverage. For example, many of them deal only with his early writings and neglect the massive and difficult Critique of Dialectical Reason, or they address only his philosophical work and ignore his novels and plays (or vice versa). The present book, by contrast, discusses works in all of Sartre’s literary genres and from all phases of his career.
An introductory chapter provides an overview of Sartre’s life and work. The next chapter analyzes several of Sartre’s earliest philosophical writings. Each of the next six chapters is devoted to an in-depth examination of a single key book. Two of these chapters are devoted to philosophical works, two to plays, one to a biography, and one to a novel. These chapters also contain some discussion of other writings insofar as these are relevant to the topics under consideration there. A final chapter considers important concepts and theories that are not found in the major works discussed in earlier chapters, briefly introduces other important works of Sartre’s, and offers some final thoughts. The book concludes with a short annotated bibliography with suggestions for further reading.
Central to all of Sartre’s writing was his attempt to describe the salient features of human existence: freedom, responsibility, the emotions, relations with others, work, embodiment, perception, imagination, death, and so forth. In this way he attempted to bring clarity and rigor to the murky realm of the subjective, limiting his focus neither to the purely intellectual side of life (the world of reasoning, or, more broadly, of thinking), nor to those objective features of human life that permit of study from the “outside.” Instead, he broadened his focus so as to include the meaning of all facets of human existence. Thus, his work addressed, in a fundamental way, and primarily from the “inside” (where Sartre’s skills as a novelist and dramatist served him well) the question of how an individual is related to everything that comprises his or her situation: the physical world, other individuals, complex social collectives, and the cultural world of artifacts and institutions.
The father of existentialism, Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a philosopher who could write like an angel. With only a sentence or two, he could plumb the depths of the human spirit. In this collection of some 800 quotations, the reader will find dazzling bon mots next to words of life-changing power. Drawing from the authoritative Princeton editions of Kierkegaard's writings, this book presents a broad selection of his wit and wisdom, as well as a stimulating introduction to his life and work.
Organized by topic, this volume covers notable Kierkegaardian concerns such as anxiety, despair, existence, irony, and the absurd, but also erotic love, the press, busyness, and the comic. Here readers will encounter both well-known quotations ("Life must be understood backward. But then one forgets the other principle, that it must be lived forward") and obscure ones ("Beware false prophets who come to you in wolves' clothing but inwardly are sheep--i.e., the phrasemongers"). Those who spend time in these pages will discover the writer who said, "my grief is my castle," but who also taught that "the best defense against hypocrisy is love."
Illuminating and delightful, this engaging book also provides a substantial portrait of one of the most influential of modern thinkers.Gathers some 800 quotations Drawn from the authoritative Princeton editions of Kierkegaard's writings Includes an introduction, a brief account and timeline of Kierkegaard's life, a guide to further reading, and an index
Hayim analyzes key existential concepts of negation, temporality, choice, anguish, and bad faith, and carefully situates them in the different relations of self to the otherrelations of indifference and destruction, as well as relations of engagement and pledge. She joins the two orders of beingontology and sociology - and establishes intellectual and ethical continuity between the phenomenology of Being and Nothingness, Sartre's momentous early work and neglected sociological categories in his later works. Critique of Dialectical Reason and Notebooks for an Ethics.
Hayim makes accessible to the social scientist a rich repertoire of existential motifs and perspectives on community and group interactions and their inextricable bond to the life practice of the individual. The author contends that the massive language of a "sociology of things" instills in the human actor a feeling of helplessness and gross inferiority vis-a-vis the social world. She offers, in contrast, the existential emphasis on the importance of substituting live human experience for mechanistic processes of explanation and of establishing a language of conscious choice and responsibility in place of the massive language found in orthodox social analysis. The new introductory essay suggests the influence of Sartre on new discourses in sociological and social-psychological theory, especially with reference to our contemporary disaffection with classical notions of emancipation and other "universalized discourses," as well as in reference to current debates on "essentialism" and "self-identity." Hayim's book will interest a wide variety of readers including phenomenologists, sociologists, admirers of Sartre's theories, and students of existential social psychology.
In a memoir of family bonding and cutting-edge physics for readers of Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality and Jim Holt’s Why Does the World Exist?, Amanda Gefter tells the story of how she conned her way into a career as a science journalist—and wound up hanging out, talking shop, and butting heads with the world’s most brilliant minds.
At a Chinese restaurant outside of Philadelphia, a father asks his fifteen-year-old daughter a deceptively simple question: “How would you define nothing?” With that, the girl who once tried to fail geometry as a conscientious objector starts reading up on general relativity and quantum mechanics, as she and her dad embark on a life-altering quest for the answers to the universe’s greatest mysteries.
Before Amanda Gefter became an accomplished science writer, she was a twenty-one-year-old magazine assistant willing to sneak her and her father, Warren, into a conference devoted to their physics hero, John Wheeler. Posing as journalists, Amanda and Warren met Wheeler, who offered them cryptic clues to the nature of reality: The universe is a self-excited circuit, he said. And, The boundary of a boundary is zero. Baffled, Amanda and Warren vowed to decode the phrases—and with them, the enigmas of existence. When we solve all that, they agreed, we’ll write a book.
Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn is that book, a memoir of the impassioned hunt that takes Amanda and her father from New York to London to Los Alamos. Along the way, they bump up against quirky science and even quirkier personalities, including Leonard Susskind, the former Bronx plumber who invented string theory; Ed Witten, the soft-spoken genius who coined the enigmatic M-theory; even Stephen Hawking.
What they discover is extraordinary: the beginnings of a monumental paradigm shift in cosmology, from a single universe we all share to a splintered reality in which each observer has her own. Reality, the Gefters learn, is radically observer-dependent, far beyond anything of which Einstein or the founders of quantum mechanics ever dreamed—with shattering consequences for our understanding of the universe’s origin. And somehow it all ties back to that conversation, to that Chinese restaurant, and to the true meaning of nothing.
Throughout their journey, Amanda struggles to make sense of her own life—as her journalism career transforms from illusion to reality, as she searches for her voice as a writer, as she steps from a universe shared with her father to at last carve out one of her own. It’s a paradigm shift you might call growing up.
By turns hilarious, moving, irreverent, and profound, Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn weaves together story and science in remarkable ways. By the end, you will never look at the universe the same way again.
Praise for Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn
“Nothing quite prepared me for this book. Wow. Reading it, I alternated between depression—how could the rest of us science writers ever match this?—and exhilaration.”—Scientific American
“To Do: Read Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn. Reality doesn’t have to bite.”—New York
“A zany superposition of genres . . . It’s at once a coming-of-age chronicle and a father-daughter road trip to the far reaches of this universe and 10,500 others.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
From the Hardcover edition.
Regarded as the father of Existentialism, Kierkegaard transformed philosophy with his conviction that we must all create our own nature; in this great work of religious anxiety, he argues that a true understanding of God can only be attained by making a personal "leap of faith."
What is the nature of the relationship of Jacques Derrida and deconstruction to Edmund Husserl and phenomenology? Is deconstruction a radical departure from phenomenology or does it trace its origins to the phenomenological project? In Derrida and Husserl, Leonard Lawlor illuminates Husserl's influence on the French philosophical tradition that inspired Derrida's thought. Beginning with Eugen Fink's pivotal essay on Husserl's philosophy, Lawlor carefully reconstructs the conceptual context in which Derrida developed his interpretation of Husserl. Lawlor's investigations of the work of Jean CavaillÃ ̈s, Tran-Duc-Thao, and Jean Hyppolite, as well as recent texts by Derrida, reveal the depth of Derrida's relationship to Husserl's phenomenology. Along the way, Lawlor revisits and sheds light on the origin of many important Derridean concepts, such as deconstruction, the metaphysics of presence, diffÃ©rance, intentionality, the trace, and spectrality.
Kafka’s aphorisms are fascinating glimpses into the lure and the enigma of the form itself.
From the Hardcover edition.
The second section of Visual Intelligence examines the role which various media play in creating the images which impact our lives: how visual images create a language with profound psychological meaning, and how print, television, and film media manipulate images to create desired emotional effects. Close-ups explore visual subtleties in such areas as digital manipulation, camera attitudes, and contextual framing, as well as the social consequences of “image” as an abstract concept expressed in concrete visual terms. Part III looks critically at the most controversial areas of image persuasiveness today—advertising, politics, and entertainment.
In To Freedom Condemned, Sartre’s most influential work, Being and Nothingness, is laid bare, presenting the philosopher’s key ideas regarding existentialism. Covering the philosophers Hegel, Heidegger, and Husserl, and mulling over such topics as love, God, death, and freedom, To Freedom Condemned goes on to consider Sartre’s treatment of the complexities around human existence.
A Phenomenological Study
Edward S. Casey
A pioneering investigation of the multiple ways of remembering and the difference that memory makes in our daily lives.
A Choice Outstanding Academic Book
"An excellent book that provides an in-depth phenomenological and philosophical study of memory." —Choice
"... a stunning revelation of the pervasiveness of memory in our lives." —Contemporary Psychology
"[Remembering] presents a study of remembering that is fondly attentive to its rich diversity, its intricacy of structure and detail, and its wide-ranging efficacy in our everyday, life-world experience.... genuinely pioneering, it ranges far beyond what established traditions in philosophy and psychology have generally taken the functions and especially the limits of memory to be." —The Humanistic Psychologist
Edward S. Casey provides a thorough description of the varieties of human memory, including recognizing and reminding, reminiscing and commemorating, body memory and place memory. The preface to the new edition extends the scope of the original text to include issues of collective memory, forgetting, and traumatic memory, and aligns this book with Casey’s newest work on place and space. This ambitious study demonstrates that nothing in our lives is unaffected by remembering.
Studies in Continental Thought—John Sallis, general editor
Preface to the Second Edition
Introduction Remembering Forgotten: The Amnesia of Anamnesis
Part One: Keeping Memory in Mind
Remembering as Intentional: Act Phase
Remembering as Intentional: Object Phase
Part Two: Mnemonic Modes
Part Three: Pursuing Memory beyond Mind
Part Four: Remembering Re-membered
The Thick Autonomy of Memory
Freedom in Remembering
Salamon suggests that the difference between transgendered and normatively gendered bodies is not, in the end, material. Rather, she argues that the production of gender itself relies on a disjunction between the "felt sense" of the body and an understanding of the body's corporeal contours, and that this process need not be viewed as pathological in nature. Examining the relationship between material and phantasmatic accounts of bodily being, Salamon emphasizes the productive tensions that make the body both present and absent in our consciousness and work to confirm and unsettle gendered certainties. She questions traditional theories that explain how the body comes to be& mdash;and comes to be made one's own& mdash;and she offers a new framework for thinking about what "counts" as a body. The result is a groundbreaking investigation into the phenomenological life of gender.
Beginning with an overview of Merleau-Ponty’s life and work, subsequent chapters cover fundamental aspects of Merleau-Ponty’s thought, including his philosophy of perception and intentionality; the role of the body in relation to perception; philosophy of history and culture; and his writings on art and aesthetics, particularly the work of Cezanne. A final chapter considers Merleau-Ponty’s importance today, examining his philosophy in light of recent developments in philosophy of mind and cognitive science.
Merleau-Ponty is essential reading for students of phenomenology, existentialism and Twentieth century philosophy. It is also ideal for anyone in the humanities and social sciences seeking an introduction to his work.
Carbaugh shows how listening to communication in cultural scenes like these can help reveal how deeply identity is situated in various communicative practices. These include a ritual of play, symbolic allusions to different classes of people, a diversity in the forms of names used upon marriage, the play between genders and gender-neutral language, and the relationship between language, nature, community, and politics. Concluding commentary links the studies to the contemporary American scene, and shows how the focus on communication can integrate into community living both shared and separate identities. Emerging from these studies is a view of communication as not only a situated expression of selves in American scenes, but also an active contributor in constituting those very identities and scenes.
Emphasizing the multidisciplinary and global nature of existential arguments, chosen texts relate to philosophy, religion, literature, theater, and culture and reflect European, Russian, Latin American, African, and American strains of thought. Readings are grouped into three thematic categories: national contexts, existentialism and religion, and transcultural migrations, which explores the reception of existentialism. The volume explains how literary giants such as Dostoevsky and Tolstoy were incorporated into the existentialist fold and how inclusion into the canon recast the work of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, and it describes the role Jaspers and Heidegger in Germany and the Paris School of existentialism in France played in this process. Essays address not only frequently assigned works but also underappreciated discoveries, underscoring their vital relevance to contemporary critical debate. Designed to speak to a new generation’s concerns, this collection utilizes a diverse range of voices to interrogate the fundamental questions of the human condition.
Illustrations throughout — at once lighthearted and gritty — help readers explore and understand a style of thinking that, while pervasive in its influence, is often seen as obscure, difficult, cryptic and dark. Existentialism For Beginners draws the movement’s many diverse elements together to provide an accessible introduction for those who seek a better understanding of the topic, and an enjoyable historical review packed with timeless quotes from existentialism’s leading lights.
In the English-speaking world, where “analytic philosophy” dominates, phenomenology has recently emerged as a hot topic after decades of neglect. This has resulted from a dramatic upswing in interest in consciousness, the condition that makes all experience possible. Since the special significance of phenomenology is that it investigates consciousness, analytic philosophers have begun to turn to it as an underutilized resource. For the same reason, Husserl’s work is now widely studied by cognitive scientists.
The current revival of interest in phenomenology also stems from the recognition that not every kind of question can be approached by means of experimental techniques. Not all questions are scientific in that sense. Thus, if there is to be knowledge in logic, mathematics, ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, epistemology (theory of knowledge), psychology (from the inside), and the study of consciousness, among others, another method is clearly needed. Phenomenology is an attempt to rectify this. Its aim is to focus on the world as given in experience, and to describe it with unprecedented care, rigor, subtlety, and completeness. This applies not only to the objects of sense experience, but to all phenomena: moral, aesthetic, political, mathematical, and so forth. One can avoid the obscure problem of the real, independent existence of the objects of experience in these domains by focusing instead on the objects, as experienced, themselves, along with the acts of consciousness which disclose them.
Phenomenology thus opens up an entirely new field of investigation, never previously explored. Rather than assuming, or trying to discern, what exists outside the realm of the mental, and what causal relations pertain to these extra-mental entities, we can study objects strictly as they are given, that is, as they appear to us in experience.
This book explains what phenomenology is and why it is important. It focuses primarily on the works and ideas of Husserl, but also discusses important later thinkers, giving special emphasis to those whose contributions are most relevant to contemporary concerns. Finally, while Husserl’s greatest contributions were to the philosophical foundations of logic, mathematics, knowledge, and science, this book also addresses extensively the relatively neglected contribution of phenomenology to value theory, especially ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics.