Old 10-20-2007, 05:12 AM
Existential Reading

I'm not sure if any of you schmoes are into existentialism but I am looking for some good books as an introduction to it. I know there are many different views and many different people who have covered existentialism but I am looking for a few different items that would get me better acquainted with some of these different views (the best ones I would hope).

So does anyone have any good recommendations perhaps?
(I hope this thread is clear enough, hehe)
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Old 10-20-2007, 05:15 AM
'The Outsider'- Albert Camus
Anything by Nietzche
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Old 10-20-2007, 06:37 AM
A topic near and dear to me...

Tag is onto a good idea: that fiction might be a good place to start. I second his Camus recommendation (you might see that novel's title translated as The Stranger, too. Read it, it's terrific.) If that's to your liking, look for Camus' The Plague and/or Sartre's The Age of Reason.

If you want to dig a bit more into the theoretical wrtings, an anthology is a good place to start. See if you can find a copy of Walter Kauffman's brilliant Existentialism From Dostoyevsky to Sartre. From there, just pursue anyone you read in those pages who catches your fancy. That's how I did it
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Old 10-20-2007, 12:05 PM
Although not . . . well, by-definition existentialists, try some of these:

-Friederich Nietzsche (maybe you'd be interested if you're looking for different views)
-Soren Kierkegard (this guy is interesting, a biography alone could work).
-Albert Camus (as Tagia said, particularly "The Stranger")
-Jean-Paul Sartre is a must-read.
-Martin Heidegger (I never liked this dude, too complicated for my fragile little mind).
-Franz Kafka.
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Old 10-21-2007, 04:46 AM
All right Ive got these in my wishlist on Amazon. (If I wasnt so lazy Id go get a new library card this week or something)

Ive been interested in checking some stuff out regarding existentialism for a while now so thank you guys for your recommendations. If there are any more anyone would like to add, definitely feel free.
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Old 10-21-2007, 02:00 PM
Maybe René Descartes too. Maybe, I've always found it tough to pinpoint philosophical traditions by author. I'm not too much into philosophy.

And since I'm not into philosophy, I haven't read a lot of these authors, so I can't really suggest specific works, hopefully more. . . well read schmoes can help some more. G'dluck.
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Old 10-21-2007, 11:58 PM

I've always found it interesting that almost none of these guys actually used the term to refer to themselves. Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard predate it...Camus, Heidegger and Sartre all said they didn't think it applied to them...for such an influential school of thought, it doesn't have many official adherents

I also like the fact that the state of mind and consciousness is the key and thinkers as dispirate as the Eastern Orthodox Christian Dostoyevsky and the Protestant oddball Kierkegaard stand in the same ranks as the aggressively anti-religious Nietzche and an Atheist like Sartre.

Personally, I gravitate toward Camus more than anyone else. Sartre is a close second, and I like all the thinkers that surrounded them like Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Simone de Beauvoir. But Camus' books, especially The Myth of Sisyphus, The Rebel and Resistance, Rebellion and Death are just gold on every page.

Last edited by Buck Turgidson; 11-07-2007 at 02:54 AM..
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Old 10-22-2007, 12:30 AM
Sartre's No Exit is probably the best reading to start with... and it's one you can do in a single sitting.

Then, as others of said, you'll probably want to move on to Kafka's Metamorphasis, another short, easy read. To continue with fiction, finish off with Camus... while The Stranger is essential, don't skip The Plague.

When you're ready for the less subtle stuff, graduate to other Kafka, and of course Kierkegaard.
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Old 10-22-2007, 12:34 AM
As for Nightcrawler's mention of Descartes... I don't really think he'd fit. His "Meditations" are must-reads, though... even if not really existentialist.
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Old 10-22-2007, 12:48 AM
When it comes to French existentialism and choosing between Camus and Sartre here's my take:

I gravitated more towards Camus because he was someone who never saw things as passionately cut and dry as Sartre did. Sartre is fun for those who are into hard fast beliefs and almost clinical definitions especially when coming to deep issues of humanity.

Camus always seemed to feel emotionally interwoven into his theories. He always seemed to have gone through great pain before coming to his conclusions. I feel this stemmed greatly from his Algerian ethnicity conflicting with French nationality. Whereas with Sartre, who didn't suffer from Camus' "bi-culturalism", his theories seemed less troubling to him.

For Camus, it never hurts starting with "The Stranger". "Resistence, Rebellion and Death" is great for his personal essays and articles. "The Rebel" is also a great read and quite timely given the age we live in and understanding it in a context that doesn't reek of propaganda. It also help give a name to issues I had floating around in my head but could never quite pin down substantially on my own.

Last edited by electriclite; 10-22-2007 at 02:33 AM..
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