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 (1813–1855) was a theologian, German Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) an anti-establishment wandering academic, Czech Franz Kafka (1883–1924) a short story writer and factory manager, and Russian Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881) 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
Abbagnano, NicolaNicola Abbagnano July 15, 1901 – September 9, 1990 Italy Philosopher Also associated with Neopositivism
Arendt, HannahHannah Arendt[1] October 14, 1906 – December 4, 1975 Germany Philosopher Also associated with Phenomenology, associate of Heidegger
Badawi, Abdel RahmanAbdel Rahman Badawi February 17, 1917 – July 25, 2002 Egypt Philosopher
Barnes, HazelHazel Barnes December 16, 1915 – March 18, 2008 United States Philosopher, author Translated Sartre into English
Barth, KarlKarl Barth May 10, 1886 – December 10, 1968 Switzerland Theologian Founder of Neo-Orthodoxy
Berdyaev, NikolaiNikolai Berdyaev March 18, 1874 – March 25, 1948 Russia Theologian, philosopher Christian Existentialist
Biko, SteveSteve Biko December 18, 1946 – September 12, 1977 South Africa Activist
Buber, MartinMartin Buber February 8, 1878 – June 13, 1965 Germany Theologian Worked with Rosenzweig
Bultmann, RudolfRudolf Bultmann August 20, 1884 – July 30, 1976 Germany Theologian
Buzzati, DinoDino Buzzati October 16, 1906 – January 28, 1972 Italy Author Also associated with magical realism
Camus, AlbertAlbert Camus November 27, 1913 – January 4, 1960 France Philosopher, author Founded Les Temps modernes with de Beauvoir and Sartre; developer of the Absurdism
Carlyle, Jane WelshJane Welsh Carlyle July 14, 1801 – April 21, 1866 United Kingdom Essayist Wife of Thomas Carlyle
Carlyle, ThomasThomas Carlyle December 4, 1795 – February 5, 1881 United Kingdom Author, historian Husband of Jane Welsh Carlyle
Cioran, EmilEmil Cioran April 8, 1911 – June 20, 1995 Romania Philosopher, essayist Also associated with Pessimism
de Beauvoir, SimoneSimone de Beauvoir January 9, 1908 – April 14, 1986 France Philosopher, anthropologist Founded Les Temps modernes with Camus and Sartre; predecessor of second-wave feminism
Davis, Walter A.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
Dostoyevsky, FyodorFyodor Dostoyevsky November 11, 1821 – February 9, 1881 Russia Novelist Foundational figure of Existentialism
Earle, William A.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
Ellison, RalphRalph Ellison[2] May 1, 1913 – April 16, 1994 United States Novelist Wrote Invisible Man, associate of Wright
Fanon, FrantzFrantz Fanon July 20, 1925 – December 6, 1961 France (Martinique), Algeria Philosopher, anthropologist, psychiatrist Also associated with Marxism
Flusser, VilémVilém Flusser May 12, 1920 – November 17, 1991 Czechoslovakia Philosopher Also associated with Phenomenology
Fondane, BenjaminBenjamin Fondane November 14, 1898 – October 2 or 3, 1944 Romania Author, poet, film director
Froude, James AnthonyJames Anthony Froude April 23, 1818 – October 20, 1894 United Kingdom Historian
Giacometti, AlbertoAlberto Giacometti October 10, 1901 – January 11, 1966 Switzerland Artist Known for his artistic style and the existential crisis within.
Girnius, JuozasJuozas Girnius 1915–1994 Lithuania Philosopher Christian Existentialist
Gordon, LewisLewis Gordon 1962–present United States Philosopher Also associated with Africana philosophy, Black Existentialism, and Phenomenology
Heidegger, MartinMartin Heidegger September 26, 1889 – May 26, 1976 Germany Philosopher Also associated with Phenomenology and Hermeneutics, associate of Arendt, rejected the label of "Existentialist"
Husserl, EdmundEdmund Husserl April 8, 1859 – April 26, 1938 Austria, Germany Philosopher Founder of Phenomenology
Ionescu, NaeNae Ionescu June 16, 1890 – March 15, 1940 Romania Philosopher, mathematician
Ionesco, EugèneEugène Ionesco November 26, 1909 -March 28, 1994 Romania Playwright, essayist Foundational figure of Absurdism
James, WilliamWilliam James[1] January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910 United States Philosopher, psychologist Foundational figure of Pragmatism
Jaspers, KarlKarl Jaspers February 23, 1883 – February 26, 1969 Germany Philosopher Also associated with Neo-Kantianism
Kafka, FranzFranz Kafka July 3, 1883 – June 3, 1924 Austria–Hungary Novelist Foundational figure of Existentialism
Kaufmann, WalterWalter Kaufmann July 1, 1921 – September 4, 1980 United States Philosopher Translated Hegel, Goethe, Buber and Nietzsche into English
Kierkegaard, SørenSøren Kierkegaard May 5, 1813 – November 11, 1855 Denmark Theologian, philosopher, author Foundational figure of Existentialism, Christian Existentialist
Klíma, LadislavLadislav Klíma August 8, 1878 – April 19, 1928 Czechoslovakia Philosopher, novelist Also associated with Subjective idealism
Levinas, EmmanuelEmmanuel Levinas January 12, 1906 – December 25, 1995 Lithuania, France Philosopher, theologian Studied with Heidegger and Husserl
Lieb, AshAsh Lieb [3] August 22, 1982 – Australia novelist also associated with Absurdism and Nihilism
Macquarrie, JohnJohn Macquarrie June 27, 1919 – May 28, 2007 United Kingdom Theologian Christian Existentialist
Mačernis, VytautasVytautas Mačernis June 5, 1921 – October 7, 1944 Lithuania Poet
Mahfouz, NaguibNaguib Mahfouz December 11, 1911 – August 30, 2006 Egypt Novelist
Marcel, GabrielGabriel Marcel December 7, 1889 – October 8, 1973 France Theologian, philosopher Christian Existentialist
Merleau-Ponty, MauriceMaurice Merleau-Ponty March 14, 1908 – May 3, 1961 France Philosopher Also associated with Phenomenology, associate of de Beauvoir and Sartre
Nietzsche, FriedrichFriedrich Nietzsche October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900 Germany Philosopher Foundational figure of Existentialism, also associated with Nihilism
Ortega y Gasset, JoséJosé Ortega y Gasset May 9, 1883 – October 18, 1955 Spain Philosopher Also associated with Perspectivism, Pragmatism, Vitalism, and Historicism
Petrov, ViktorViktor Petrov 1894–1969 Ukraine Novelist, anthropologist
Rosenzweig, FranzFranz Rosenzweig December 26, 1887 – December 10, 1929 Germany Theologian, philosopher Worked with Buber
Silva, Vicente-Ferreira-DaVicente-Ferreira-Da Silva January 10, 1916 – 1963 Brazil Philosopher
Sartre, Jean-PaulJean-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
Shakra, AousAous Shakra April 22, 1908 – April 1, 1992 Palestine Politician, philosopher
Shestov, LevLev Shestov January 31, 1866 – November 19, 1938 Russia, France Philosopher Also associated with Irrationalism
Soloveitchik, Joseph B.Joseph B. Soloveitchik February 27, 1903 – April 9, 1993 United States Rabbi
Tillich, PaulPaul Tillich August 20, 1886 – October 22, 1965 United States, Germany Theologian, philosopher Christian Existentialist
Turner, RickRick Turner 1942–1978 South Africa Philosopher Also associated with Marxism, studied with Sartre
Unamuno, Miguel deMiguel de Unamuno September 29, 1864 – December 31, 1936 Spain Novelist, essayist, dramatist, philosopher
Wild, John DanielJohn 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
Wilson, ColinColin Wilson June 26, 1931 – December 5, 2013 United Kingdom Author Wrote The Outsider
Kassem, SuzySuzy Kassem December 1, 1975 – present United States, Egypt Philosopher, poet, essayist, film director, author
Wright, RichardRichard Wright September 4, 1908 – November 28, 1960 United States Author Associated with Black Existentialism, associate of Ellison
Zapffe, Peter WesselPeter 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
Leopardi, GiacomoGiacomo 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
Pascal, BlaiseBlaise Pascal[4] June 19, 1623 – August 19, 1662 France Mathematician, physicist, philosopher, theologian
Rousseau, Jean-JacquesJean-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
Thoreau, Henry DavidHenry David Thoreau[1] July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862 United States Author, poet Foundational figure of Transcendentalism
Arthur Schopenhauer February 22, 1788  – Sep 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) (1st ed.), United States: University Press of America, ISBN 0-7618-4031-1 
  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), Guides for the Perplexed (First ed.), Continuum International Publishing Group, p. 2, ISBN 0-8264-8530-8 
  5. ^ (Italian) Giovanni Fornero, Recensione a "Le origini storiche dell'esistenzialismo" di Nicola Abbagnano