List of existentialists

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Many of the founding figures of existentialism represent its diverse background (clockwise from top left): Dane Søren Kierkegaard was a theologian, German Friedrich Nietzsche an anti-establishment wandering academic, Czech Franz Kafka a short-story writer and factory manager, and Russian Fyodor Dostoyevsky a novelist

Existentialism is a movement within continental philosophy that developed in the late 19th and 20th centuries. As a loose philosophical school, some persons associated with existentialism explicitly rejected the label (e.g. Martin Heidegger), and others are not remembered primarily as philosophers, but as writers (Fyodor Dostoyevsky) or theologians (Paul Tillich). It is related to several movements within continental philosophy including phenomenology, nihilism, absurdism, and post-modernism.

Name Lived Nationality Occupation Notes
Nicola Abbagnano July 15, 1901 – September 9, 1990 Italy Philosopher Also associated with neopositivism
Gonzalo Arango January 18, 1931 – September 25, 1976 Colombia Philosopher Founded Nadaism
Hannah Arendt[1] October 14, 1906 – December 4, 1975 Germany Philosopher Also associated with phenomenology, associate of Heidegger
Abdel Rahman Badawi February 17, 1917 – July 25, 2002 Egypt Philosopher
Hazel Barnes December 16, 1915 – March 18, 2008 United States Philosopher, author Translated Sartre into English
Karl Barth May 10, 1886 – December 10, 1968 Switzerland Theologian Founder of neo-orthodoxy
Nikolai Berdyaev March 18, 1874 – March 25, 1948 Russia Theologian, philosopher Christian existentialist
Steve Biko December 18, 1946 – September 12, 1977 South Africa Activist
Martin Buber February 8, 1878 – June 13, 1965 Germany Theologian Worked with Rosenzweig
Rudolf Bultmann August 20, 1884 – July 30, 1976 Germany Theologian
Dino Buzzati October 16, 1906 – January 28, 1972 Italy Author Also associated with magical realism
Albert Camus November 27, 1913 – January 4, 1960 France Philosopher, author Founded Les Temps modernes with de Beauvoir and Sartre; developer of the Absurdism
Jane Welsh Carlyle July 14, 1801 – April 21, 1866 United Kingdom Essayist Wife of Thomas Carlyle
Thomas Carlyle December 4, 1795 – February 5, 1881 United Kingdom Author, historian Husband of Jane Welsh Carlyle
Emil Cioran April 8, 1911 – June 20, 1995 Romania Philosopher, essayist Also associated with pessimism
Simone de Beauvoir January 9, 1908 – April 14, 1986 France Philosopher, anthropologist Founded Les Temps modernes with Camus and Sartre; predecessor of second-wave feminism
Walter A. Davis November 9, 1942 – United States Philosopher, playwright, cultural critic Author of Inwardness and Existence: Subjectivity in/and Hegel, Heidegger, Marx and Freud
Fyodor Dostoyevsky November 11, 1821 – February 9, 1881 Russia Novelist Foundational figure of existentialism
William A. Earle 1919 – October 16, 1988 United States Philosopher Also associated with Phenomenology, co-founded the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy with Wild and James M. Edie
Ralph Ellison[2] May 1, 1913 – April 16, 1994 United States Novelist Wrote Invisible Man, associate of Wright
Frantz Fanon July 20, 1925 – December 6, 1961 France (Martinique), Algeria Philosopher, anthropologist, psychiatrist Also associated with Marxism
Vilém Flusser May 12, 1920 – November 17, 1991 Czechoslovakia Philosopher Also associated with phenomenology
Benjamin Fondane November 14, 1898 – October 2 or 3, 1944 Romania Author, poet, film director
James Anthony Froude April 23, 1818 – October 20, 1894 United Kingdom Historian
Alberto Giacometti October 10, 1901 – January 11, 1966 Switzerland Artist Known for his artistic style and the existential crisis within
Juozas Girnius 1915–1994 Lithuania Philosopher Christian existentialist
Fernando González April 24, 1895 – February 16, 1964 Colombia Philosopher, Lawyer Works inspired Nadaism
Lewis Gordon 1962 United States Philosopher Also associated with Africana philosophy, Black existentialism, and phenomenology
Martin Heidegger September 26, 1889 – May 26, 1976 Germany Philosopher Also associated with phenomenology and hermeneutics, associate of Arendt, rejected the label of "existentialist"
Edmund Husserl April 8, 1859 – April 26, 1938 Austria, Germany Philosopher Founder of Phenomenology
Nae Ionescu June 16, 1890 – March 15, 1940 Romania Philosopher, mathematician
Eugène Ionesco November 26, 1909 -March 28, 1994 Romania Playwright, essayist Foundational figure of absurdism
William James[1] January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910 United States Philosopher, psychologist Foundational figure of pragmatism
Karl Jaspers February 23, 1883 – February 26, 1969 Germany Philosopher Also associated with neo-Kantianism
Franz Kafka July 3, 1883 – June 3, 1924 Austria–Hungary Novelist Foundational figure of existentialism
Walter Kaufmann July 1, 1921 – September 4, 1980 United States Philosopher Translated Hegel, Goethe, Buber and Nietzsche into English
Søren Kierkegaard May 5, 1813 – November 11, 1855 Denmark Theologian, philosopher, author Foundational figure of existentialism, Christian existentialist
Ladislav Klíma August 8, 1878 – April 19, 1928 Czechoslovakia Philosopher, novelist Also associated with subjective idealism
Emmanuel Levinas January 12, 1906 – December 25, 1995 Lithuania, France Philosopher, theologian Studied with Heidegger and Husserl
Ash Lieb[3] August 22, 1982 – Australia Novelist Also associated with absurdism and nihilism
John Macquarrie June 27, 1919 – May 28, 2007 United Kingdom Theologian Christian existentialist
Vytautas Mačernis June 5, 1921 – October 7, 1944 Lithuania Poet
Naguib Mahfouz December 11, 1911 – August 30, 2006 Egypt Novelist
Gabriel Marcel December 7, 1889 – October 8, 1973 France Theologian, philosopher Christian existentialist
Maurice Merleau-Ponty March 14, 1908 – May 3, 1961 France Philosopher Also associated with phenomenology, associate of de Beauvoir and Sartre
Friedrich Nietzsche October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900 Germany Philosopher Foundational figure of existentialism, also associated with nihilism
José Ortega y Gasset May 9, 1883 – October 18, 1955 Spain Philosopher Also associated with perspectivism, pragmatism, vitalism, and historicism
Viktor Petrov 1894–1969 Ukraine Novelist, anthropologist
Franz Rosenzweig December 26, 1887 – December 10, 1929 Germany Theologian, philosopher Worked with Buber
Jean-Paul Sartre June 21, 1905 – April 15, 1980 France Philosopher, novelist, activist Also associated with Marxism, co-founded Les Temps modernes with de Beauvoir and Camus
Aous Shakra April 22, 1908 – April 1, 1992 Palestine Politician, philosopher
Lev Shestov January 31, 1866 – November 19, 1938 Russia, France Philosopher Also associated with Irrationalism
Joseph B. Soloveitchik February 27, 1903 – April 9, 1993 United States Rabbi
Paul Tillich August 20, 1886 – October 22, 1965 United States, Germany Theologian, philosopher Christian existentialist
Rick Turner 1942–1978 South Africa Philosopher Also associated with Marxism, studied with Sartre
Miguel de Unamuno September 29, 1864 – December 31, 1936 Spain Novelist, essayist, dramatist, philosopher
John Daniel Wild April 10, 1902 – October 23, 1972 United States Philosopher Originally associated with empiricism, realism, and pragmatism; later associated with phenomenology; co-founded the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy with Earle and James M. Edie
Colin Wilson June 26, 1931 – December 5, 2013 United Kingdom Author Wrote The Outsider
Richard Wright September 4, 1908 – November 28, 1960 United States Author Associated with Black existentialism, associate of Ellison
Peter Wessel Zapffe December 18, 1899 – October 12, 1990 Norway Philosopher Founded biosophy

Pre-existentialist philosophers[edit]

Several thinkers who lived prior to the rise of existentialism have been retroactively considered proto-existentialists for their approach to philosophy and lifestyle.

Name Lived Nationality Occupation Notes
Augustine of Hippo[1][4] November 13, 354 – August 28, 430 Algeria Theologian At various times associated with neoplatonism, Doctor of the Church
Giacomo Leopardi[5] June 29, 1798 – June 14, 1837 Italy Poet, writer and philosopher Romanticism, classicism and pessimism
Mulla Sadra 1571–1636 Persia Philosopher Islamic philosopher associated with illuminationism and transcendent theosophy
Blaise Pascal[4] June 19, 1623 – August 19, 1662 France Mathematician, physicist, philosopher, theologian
Jean-Jacques Rousseau[1] June 28, 1712 – July 2, 1778 Switzerland Philosopher Foundational figure of social contract theory, French Revolution, socialism
Socrates[1] 469–399 BC Greece Philosopher Founder of Western philosophy
Stoics[1] fl. 3rd century BC – AD 529 Greece Philosophical school influenced by Socrates through Plato
Henry David Thoreau[1] July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862 United States Author, poet Foundational figure of transcendentalism
Arthur Schopenhauer February 22, 1788  – September 21,1860 Germany Philosopher Post-Kantian philosophy, German idealism

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Murchland, Bernard (2008), The Arrow That Flies by Night (Paperback)|format= requires |url= (help) (1st ed.), United States: University Press of America, ISBN 978-0-7618-4031-2
  2. ^ Marino, Gordon (April 13, 2004), Basic Writings of Existentialism (Paperback), Modern Library Classics (1st ed.), United States: Modern Library, ISBN 0-375-75989-1
  3. ^ Trey Whitman, "Transgressive fiction", Bent books, New Zealand 2016 ISBN 978-0-473-35229-5
  4. ^ a b Earnshaw, Seven (2006), Existentialism: A Guide for the Perplexed (Paperback)|format= requires |url= (help), Guides for the Perplexed (First ed.), Continuum International Publishing Group, p. 2, ISBN 0-8264-8530-8
  5. ^ (in Italian) Giovanni Fornero, Recensione a "Le origini storiche dell'esistenzialismo" di Nicola Abbagnano