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The Existentialist Reader

An Anthology of Key Texts

Edited by Paul MacDonald

Paperback (Printed to Order)

In the years between the First and Second World Wars, Existentialist writers and thinkers dramatically reshaped the central topics of immediate intellectual and philosophical concern. The Existentialists were not so much influenced in a thoughtful, meditative way by the terrible events unfolding about them as they were provoked and threatened by a challenge to dominant worldviews. Their writings indicated a profound crisis in philosophy itself, as well as European culture at large, and responded to a complex situation which artists, novelists and film-makers also addressed. They became actively engaged in articulating a new vision that would define the philosopher's own moral and political responsibility, a task which became possible as the consequence of their radically new reassessment of the unique status of human being. For the Existentialist, a human being is not just a thinking thing, nor an instance of a timeless essence, but a unique manner of existence.

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1. Introduction - Background and Themes
2. Martin Heidegger
The Fundamental Attunement of Boredom (1929)
3. Karl Jaspers
Philosophizing Starts with Our Situation (1932)
4. Gabriel Marcel
On the Ontological Mystery (1933)
5. Jose Ortega y Gasset
History as a System (1935)
6. Albert Camus
An Absurd Reasoning (1942)
7. Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Reflections on the Cartesian Cogito (1945)
8. Martin Heidegger
Letter on Humanism (1947)
9. Simone de Beauvoir
Ambiguity and Freedom (1947)
10. Jean-Paul Sartre
'A New, authentic way of being oneself' (1948).

About the Author

Paul MacDonald is a Lecturer in Philosophy at Murdoch University, Western Australia.