To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Tracing her intellectual development from her university years, when she was trained in a Cartesian and neo-Kantian philosophical tradition, to her final decade, during which she was recognised as having inspired the emerging strands of late twentieth-century feminism, Beauvoir is shown to have been among the most influential philosophical voices of the mid twentieth century. Countering the recent trend to read her in isolation from Sartre, she is shown to have both adopted, adapted, and influenced his philosophy, most importantly through encouraging him to engage with Hegel and to consider our relations with others. The Second Sex is read in the light of her existentialist humanism and ultimately faulted for having succumbed too uncritically to the masculine myth that it is men who are solely responsible for society's intellectual and cultural history.
Existentialism is often seen and at times parodied as the philosophy of individuality, authenticity, despair, and defiance in a godless world. However, it cannot be understood without reference to religion, and in particular the monotheism of Christianity. Even the existentialist slogan, 'existence precedes essence', is formulated in relation to monotheism. This Element will show that monotheism and existentialism are intertwined: they react to each other, and share content and concerns. This Element will set out a genealogy of existentialist thought; explore key atheistic and theistic existentialists; and argue that there are productive conversations to be had as regards key concepts such as freedom and authenticity, relationality, and ethics.
Many of Søren Kierkegaard's most controversial and influential ideas are more relevant than ever to contemporary debates on ethics, philosophy of religion and selfhood. Kierkegaard develops an original argument according to which wholeheartedness requires both moral and religious commitment. In this book, Roe Fremstedal provides a compelling reconstruction of how Kierkegaard develops wholeheartedness in the context of his views on moral psychology, meta-ethics and the ethics of religious belief. He shows that Kierkegaard's influential account of despair, selfhood, ethics and religion belongs to a larger intellectual context in which German philosophers such as Kant and Fichte play crucial roles. Moreover, Fremstedal makes a solid case for the controversial claim that religion supports ethics, instead of contradicting it. His book offers a novel and comprehensive reading of Kierkegaard, drawing on important sources that are little known.
This chapter looks at the enduring influence of Hegel on the philosophy of the nineteenth century, especially his ideas of alienation and recognition. Variations of these ideas can be found explicitly or implicitly in all of the thinkers examined in this study and appear in a number of different contexts in addition to philosophy: religion, history, politics, literature, poetry, etc. This shows that the seed that Hegel planted in The Phenomenology of Spirit and later in his Berlin lectures in the 1820s continued to grow through the subsequent decades. This chapter shows that, starting with him, all the thinkers discussed in this study believed there to be an important crisis in their time. An overview is given of their different diagnoses of the nature of this crisis and its causes. A key feature in all of these is the role of alienation in modern life in various spheres: religion, politics, economics, art, etc. Likewise, an account is provided of the various solutions they proposed. Finally, an attempt is made to demonstrate that these issues carry over into the twentieth century, where they are taken up and further expanded upon by philosophers and social scientists.
We discuss music as a reflection of our deepest and most important existential concerns. Indeed, music connects us with the transcendent and is used to express our spirituality. The term “requiem” refers to music that honors those who have died. In this chapter we discuss death and dying, and our approach to living that gives us comfort, hope, and a sense of finality. We posit spirituality as a key thread in the various social theories of aging, and recognize music as a vehicle to and key aspect of the sacred moment. We also explore Buddhist thought (e.g., right view, right livelihood) as a metaphor and method to apply to our attitude toward music and music as a profession. This chapter recognizes how music may be involved in spiritual expressions and in the celebration of the End-of-Life.
Because Mailer often addressed various modes of violence in his fiction and nonfiction, over time many readers have mistakenly believed that Mailer endorsed all forms violence. Yet Mailer was careful to parse the nuances of different forms of violence, and rarely, if ever, does violence go wholly unquestioned in his work. This chapter covers Mailer’s distinctive criticisms of violence, addressing his notions of “creative” violence versus purely destructive violence; his sharp criticisms of the violences enacted in Vietnam; his meditations on structural violence, and the connections he draws between violence, courage, and manhood.
Mailer’s interest in film dates back to his early career, when he went to Hollywood in a failed attempt to work on a screenplay with friend and mentor Jean Malaquais. Despite this failure, Mailer did return to filmmaking in the 1960s, ultimately making Wild 90, Beyond the Law, and Maidstone – three films that exemplify the kind of ambitious experimentation that defines so much of Mailer’s career. None of these films contain what could be considered a straightforward narrative; rather, Mailer instructed his actors to improvise around a theme while he let the camera run, later editing together hours of footage to create a more constrained piece. This chapter discusses Mailer’s journey to make these films, their reception, and the philosophy of cinema that influenced their creation, which Mailer outlines in his essay “Some Dirt in the Talk.”
A novelist by trade whose intellectual capaciousness brought him directly into the field of politics, Mailer is somewhat adrift in the general categories of political analysis we are accustomed to in the United States. For him, the Left was either too blindly ideological or too unfocused; the Right only crafted national sensibility by force; and the liberals in the middle had so far created a world without mountains and valleys, a land hard-pressed to accept the existential longings of the modern individual. Instead of situating himself within these categories, Mailer firmly and repeatedly called himself a “Left Conservative.” He even ran for mayor of New York City in 1969 as an advocate of a “Left Conservative” platform. This chapter will work to define Mailer’s position, situating it amongst other political conversations in mid-century America.
In 1960, Mailer published his famous essay on JFK, “Superman Comes to the Supermarket,” a defining and significant contribution to New Journalism. The essay frames JFK as a kind of existential hero and a beacon of hope for America’s future, and is representative of the lasting influence Kennedy had on Mailer’s political views and conceptions of America, the American Dream, and American masculinity. Much of The Presidential Papers, a miscellany of writings published in 1964, is also devoted to the Kennedys, and the figure of JFK haunts more than one of Mailer’s later works as well.
Mailer engages provocatively with themes of sexuality in a number of his novels, in a variety of ways – from the overt and somewhat shocking sex scenes in An American Dream to the exploration of sex and mysticism in Ancient Evenings to the subplot focusing in on closeted homosexuality in Harlot’s Ghost. Many of the theories of sexuality posited in these works are grounded in previous essays and nonfiction, and reflect not only the culture in which Mailer lived but provide insight into his ongoing attempt to represent sexuality in language. For example, the exploration of homosexuality in Ancient Evenings can be traced back to The Prisoner of Sex, where he was also interested in the way sex is used to enforce hierarchies of power within the prison system, and then back as early 1955, where, in “The Homosexual Villain,” Mailer was still working to flesh out “the edges of the rich theme of homosexuality,” struggling to find a place for it in his construction of contemporary masculinity.
While Manichaeism and Existentialism would seem to be two very different topics, they are intricately connected in Mailer’s work. Though as a young man Mailer maintained atheistic beliefs, his ideas shifted in the mid-1950s, and his evolving theory of existentialism became intricately tied to his developing spiritual ideology, which by the 1960s was shaping most of his writing. While he borrowed ideas from famed existential theorists like Kierkegaard and Sartre, Mailer formulated his own unique brand of existentialism, one that included the possibility of a God. The crux of existentialism in Mailer’s mind, as this chapter explains, was the ability to face down the unknown with courage, which in turn meant confronting the Manichaean idea that an imperfect God was constantly at war with the Devil.
Mailer’s definitions of manhood lie at the center of much of his work; they not only inform the construction of his fictional protagonists, but are also connected to his ideas of existentialism, and are tied to his hopes for the future of America. Mailer’s notions of manhood also often intersect with his theories of violence, and thus threaten to uphold toxic notions of masculine power (which Mailer himself internalized throughout his life, evident in his performance of machismo), though Mailer also confronts the many pressures and vulnerabilities associated with cultural expectations of manhood.
Mailer remained skeptical of many forms of technology; he felt technology to be the enemy of critical thinking, growth, and magic. As this chapter acknowledges, his wariness of various technologies informed works such as Of a Fire on the Moon, in which Mailer eerily predicts some of the very criticisms that have become magnified since the advent of the Internet, fearing that “digital computer was not a machine which would force men to think in new ways about the environment” but was instead “plastic brainpower” that might accelerate “the rush to extermination.”
Despite existentialism positing that existential concerns are universal, research into the existential issues related to addiction remains scarce. An existential model of addiction is lacking.
This research aims to develop an existential model of addiction, conceptualising the development of addiction through to authenticity.
A scoping literature review was carried out using PUBMED, reference lists and internet websites.
Psychopathology, from an existential point of view, occurs as a result of the avoidance of the existential givens which are death, freedom, existential isolation and meaninglessness. In this model, addiction is positioned as a coping mechanism to deal with the existential or neurotic anxiety which arises from facing or avoiding the existential givens. Addiction is defined as being-with-drug; a state in which our inherent relation to others is replaced by a relation with a substance. This state is understood from the ontological, axiological, ethical and praxeological levels, shedding light on the phenomenological experience of addiction. The existential dilemmas around meaning, loneliness, death, freedom, guilt and control while living with addiction are discussed. Finally, existential crises, boundary situations and secondary suffering are seen as the main motivators to overcome addiction.
Phenomenological and existential research support the fact that existential issues are relevant to addiction. This model explains the relationships between existential concepts and addiction, while providing a framework for clinicians to explore and address these issues with patients.
Wright’s connection to the postwar Parisian literary-intellectual journal Les Temps Modernes and collaborative friendship with Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir helped quickly establish him in France as, in Paul Gilroy’s words, “the first black writer to be put forward as a major figure in world literature.” This essay gives an overview of the various reasons that Wright was a good fit for the journal and its existentialist politics and the journal and its politics a good fit for Wright. But it also looks critically at a certain asymmetry to the relationship rooted in post-war Franco-American relations. It challenges the notion that Wright became a doctrinaire “existentialist” and suggests rather that he gained most from the journal and his friendship with Sartre the versatile, prophetic model of intellectual engagement already imminent in his autobiographical self-portrait. The connection influenced his novel The Outsider less than the non-fiction books of the 1950s.
Richard Wright’s was truly a life defined by struggle, and by his death at age fifty-two in 1962, he had acquired a massive amount of political baggage that was bursting with a contradictory array of statements and actions. Among other things, Wright stands alone among African American authors of fiction, poetry, and drama in his providing a detailed, autobiographical memoir of life in the Communist Party (CP-USA), which lasted about ten years. Moreover, Wright scholars have long been aware that there was always something elliptical if not cryptic about the articulation of Wright’s political views in the years after his departure from that movement and the United States. This essay begins by demonstrating that much of the present-day confusion regarding Wright’s brand of Marxist politics toward the mid-1940s and after can be traced back to interpretations of what he resolved when he wrote the memoir “I Tried to Be a Communist.” It concludes by querying the extent to which his political evolution was representative--or uncharacteristic--of the experience of the dozens of African American imaginative writers with CP-USA affiliations, every last one of whom drew back from the organization at some point.
The literary career of Richard Eun-kook Kim may best be viewed as a set of narrative responses to his biography and the broader political dilemma of modern Korea, one beset by differential and competing historical colonialisms and ideologies on the peninsula. Key figures in the USA were marshalled to serve Cold War interests by making literature a central instrument in winning transnational hearts and minds; Kim would benefit from this by becoming the first Asian to enroll in the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, from which he would draft his first novel, The Martyred, whose popularity signaled that readers viewed Kim and his work as an expression of US liberal value from an Asian beneficiary of the Cold War project. But Kim’s form of realism actually serves as a form of narrative autonomy from such expected discursive capture. This, and in his later forays into speculative fiction and elegiac life writing – the novel The Innocent (1968) and collection Lost Names: Scenes of a Korean Boyhood (1970), respectively – Kim narrates a Korean temporality that seeks to minimize, even as it acknowledges, the influence of imperial powers.
Are humans superior to all other animals? People of religion – Christianity and Buddhism – say yes. People of science – those for and those against Darwinian evolutionary theory – say yes. People of philosophy – the existentialists in particular –say yes. Why? People of religion think it is God’s intention (Christians) or simply the way the world is (Buddhists). People of science, both those for and those against Darwin, think it is simply a fact of nature. People of philosophy, existentialists, argue that meaning must come from within. Are humans superior? That is for us to decide and demonstrate. Natural (science) and unnatural (religion) facts tell us nothing.
What’s the conclusion? Do we have an edge on warthogs? The Christian thinks our superior status is God-given. The Buddhist thinks is all a way the world is. The Darwinian, like Richard Dawkins, too often opts for natural-selection-driven progress. The non-Darwinian thinks it is all in nature’s developmental process. Not much evidence to support this conclusion. Existentialism is terrifying. We are on our own. “Condemned to freedom.” It is the grown-up approach, and considered dispassionately is the only way to true life contentment and happiness. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.” The way forward too.
Why do we think ourselves superior to all other animals? Are we right to think so? In this book, Michael Ruse explores these questions in religion, science and philosophy. Some people think that the world is an organism - and that humans, as its highest part, have a natural value (this view appeals particularly to people of religion). Others think that the world is a machine - and that we therefore have responsibility for making our own value judgements (including judgements about ourselves). Ruse provides a compelling analysis of these two rival views and the age-old conflict between them. In a wide-ranging and fascinating discussion, he draws on Darwinism and existentialism to argue that only the view that the world is a machine does justice to our humanity. This new series offers short and personal perspectives by expert thinkers on topics that we all encounter in our everyday lives.