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Pathfinder for the research topic “Existentialism”



This web site offers a thorough, well-organized introduction to existentialism. It is divided into four large sections: (i) key themes of existentialism (ii) contributing thinkers/writers/philosophers (iii) influence of existentialism (iv) references and further reading. No discussion can be simplistic when it tackles a topic as complex as existentialism, but this article does give the careful reader an understandable presentation of the main ideas and tensions that lie at the heart of the existential tradition of thought.  URL:

What is Existentialism? Representative Historical Responses

For an intriguing perspective on existentialism, check out this informative site. It illustrates that existentialism is difficult to define by gathering from several respected philosophers and writers their responses to the question. What is existentialism? While there are points of overlap in the different answers given, there are also fascinating distinctions that the careful reader will notice. As noted in the introductory paragraph of the article, this picture of existentialism portrays it not as a list of essential characteristics, but rather as a complex and dynamic network of philosophical themes. URL:

The Existentialist Frame of Mind

This article names many authors that contributed to the academic philosophy, existentialism. URL:

A Primer of Existentialism

For a thorough discussion of the essential ideas in existentialism, read this well-organized essay. You will find carefully worded descriptions of key ideas followed by discussions that explain the meaning more tangibly. There is a fascinating section on the limitations of reason; in spite of its exalted place in Western Culture, reason is relatively weak and cannot penetrate much of what lies within. There are also many references to literary works in which writers such as Hawthorne and Faulkner expressed viewpoints consistent with the philosophy of existentialism even though they would not have called themselves existentialists.


From the introduction to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on existentialism: The term was explicitly adopted as a self-description by Jean-Paul Sartre, and through the wide dissemination of the postwar literary and philosophical output of Sartre and his associates--notably Simone de Beauvoir, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Albert Camus--existentialism became identified with a cultural movement that flourished in Europe in the 1940s and 1950s. The entry is arranged under the following headings: The Emergence of Existence as a Philosophical Problem; Existence Precedes Essence; Freedom and Value; Politics, History, Engagement; and Existentialism Today. URL:

Existentialism | Historical Context  

This web site provides a succinct outline of existential ideas, including forerunners of existential thought from ancient Greece, from the book of Job and from the words of William Shakespeare. The article then traces the organization of existentialism into a formal philosophy in the 19th and 20th centuries with the contributions of Pascal, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Sartre. The relevant thoughts of each of these thinkers are included, and as each contribution is made, the reader can see the edifice of existentialism taking form. URL:

Roots of Existentialism

Read about the influential creators of existentialism: Soren Kiekegaard, Martin Heidegger, Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Edmund Husserl. URL:

Sartre: Existentialism and the Modern World

This web site is an excellent resource for those who want to learn about the basic ideas that form the foundation of existentialism. While the discussion highlights many of Sartre’s ideas, it also includes contributions from many other significant philosophers (Kant) and writers (T.S. Eliot, Robert Musil). One of the strengths of this piece is that key existentialist terms and phrases, such as authentic existence, essence and “existences precedes essence”, are described and clarified in terms that any thoughtful reader can comprehend. URL:

Søren Kierkegaard

The prolific written work of Soren Aabye Kierkegaard encompasses philosophy, theology, psychology, literary criticism, and fiction. From social critique to religious writings, he contributed to existentialism, modernism, literary experimentation, and church politics. With the passion of a poet, he analyzed and revitalized philosophical and religious thought. Investigate his life, rhetoric, aesthetics, ethics, religion, and politics. Although he rarely left his hometown, he was well-read and well-educated. Learn about some of the influences in his life. Discover how he encouraged individuals to think for themselves through irony, satire, and parody, persuading them to take personal responsibility for their convictions and beliefs. URL:

 Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche is considered one of the first existentialist philosophers. Sections of interest include life, early writings, unpublished notebooks, and the influence upon the 20th century thoughts. The works of Friedrich Nietzsche have inspired many leading figures in all walks of life, including poets, painters, dancers, novelists, philosophers, and social revolutionaries. URL:

Albert Camus -- Biography

This biography talks about Camus' marriages, his political ideas and his experience writing for the theater. Learn about his work as a journalist during the war. The article describes Camus' works that are associated with his doctrine of the absurd. A bibliography is included. URL:


Existentialism - Movie Examples

This article on existentialism gives some examples from movies. Existentialism is a movement of the 1940's, literary and artistic as well as philosophical. Read about other known followers and examples that made them different. URL:


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142 COG

Cogswell, David. Existentialism for beginners. Danbury, CT : For Beginners, c2008.

Provides a simple introduction to existentialism that describes a brief history of the philosophical movement, and profiles important figures, which includes Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Simone de Beauvoir, and others.

193 STR

Strathern, Paul, 1940-. Nietzsche in 90 minutes. Chicago : I.R. Dee, c1996.

Provides information on the life and work of nineteenth-century Prussian philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, and includes a chronology and excerpts from his writings, illustrating his key philosophical concepts.
194 STR

Strathern, Paul, 1940-. Sartre in 90 minutes. Chicago : Ivan R. Dee, c1998.

Examines the life and works of twentieth-century French philosopher Jean-Paul Satre, known for his advocacy of existentialism--the ultimate theory of introspection. Includes a list of quotes from Satre's writings.

Camus, Albert. The stranger. New York : Knopf, 1988.

The subsequent imprisonment after a man commits a murder leads only to complete alienation from life existence.


Gay-Crosier, Raymond. The stranger. Detroit, MI : Gale, 2002.

Presents a brief look at the life of Albert Camus along with a critical examination of his book, "The stranger" and discussion questions.

Moss, Joyce. Literature and its times, supplement 1, part 2 : the Great Depression and the New Deal to future times (1930s-) : profiles of notable literary works and the historical events that influenced them. Detroit, MI : Gale, 2003.

Presents essays exploring the historical background of important works of literature created from the 1930s to the present as well as a cumulative index to the series.
REF 809.04 WOR

World authors, 1900-1950. H. W. Wilson, 1996.
A comprehensive rewriting of Twentieth Century Authors (1942) and Twentieth Century Authors First Supplement (1955), this biographical set contains information on over 2,500 writers who came into prominence during the period 1900-1950.

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