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Existentialism: An Introduction



Existentialism: An Introduction

Kevin Aho

ISBN: 978-0-745-68285-3 April 2014 Polity 224 Pages

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Existentialism: An Introduction provides an accessible and scholarly introduction to the core ideas of the existentialist tradition. Kevin Aho draws on a wide range of existentialist thinkers in chapters centering on the key themes of freedom, being-in-the-world, alienation, nihilism, anxiety and authenticity. He also addresses important but often overlooked issues in the canon of existentialism, with discussions devoted to the role of embodiment, the movement’s contribution to ethics, politics, and environmental and comparative philosophies, as well as its influence on contemporary psychiatry and psychotherapy. The enduring relevance of existentialism is shown by applying existentialist ideas to contemporary philosophical discussions of interest to a wide audience. The book covers secular thinkers such as Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, and Beauvoir as well as religious authors, such as Buber, Dostoevsky, Marcel, and Kierkegaard.

In this engaging and accessible text Aho shows why existentialism cannot be easily dismissed as a moribund or outdated movement. In the aftermath of 'God’s death', existentialist philosophy engages questions with lasting philosophical significance, questions such as 'Who am I?' and 'How should I live?' By showing how existentialism offers insight into what it means to be human, the author illuminates existentialism’s enduring value.

Existentialism: An Introduction provides the ideal introduction for upper level students and anyone interested in knowing more about one of the most vibrant and important areas of philosophy today.
What is Existentialism?
Why this Book?
Chapter 1 Existentialism and Modernity
Roots of the Western Self
The Emergence of the Modern Worldview
Existentialism as a Cultural Mood
Chapter 2 The Insider’s Perspective
The Problem of Detachment and Objectivity
Subjective Truth
Chapter 3 Being-in-the-World
Undoing Dualisms
The Work-World
The Perceptual World
Aspects of Alterity
Chapter 4 Self and Others
The Problem of Substance
The Self as a Tension
Conformism and Self-Deception
Chapter 5 Freedom
The Core Idea of Existentialism
Freedom and Determinism
Radical Freedom
Situated Freedom
Creature and Creator
Chapter 6 Authenticity
Moods and the Problem of the Real Self
Becoming an Individual
Living with Style
Anxiety and Resoluteness
Bad Faith and Nothingness
Chapter 7 Ethics
Anything Goes
Subjectivism or Historicism
I and Thou
Chapter 8 Contributions to Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
The Problem of Medicalization
Anxiety, Embodiment, and Psychotherapy
Is Existentialism Anti-Psychiatry?
Chapter 9 Existentialism Today
Oppression and Recognition
Self and Nature
Self and Dukkha
Health and Illness
"Surely the best overview of the movement available today. Aho clarifies the place of existentialist philosophy in world thought, carefully and fairly examines all its major figures, and shows its relations to recent thought and movements. With his clear and energetic writing, Aho brings existentialism to life."
Charles Guignon, University of South Florida

"Historically comprehensive and philosophically acute, Kevin Aho's Existentialism is a wonderful introduction to the '-ism' that isn't, to 'the noth-ing' that burst forth in philosophy and literature like a series of coordinated attacks on existing reality, exposing the hollow core of modernity and thereby opening up our future."
Iain Thomson, University of New Mexico

"Kevin Aho’s book is a commendable effort to show why existentialism is still relevant today as a tool of understanding what it means to be a human being in the world. Drawing from the writings of the giants of existentialist thought, the author makes a compelling argument for the contemporary relevance of the philosophy and why it is useful as a critique of both the modern individual and society. Aho’s work provides a lucid account of what needs to be known about existentialism and its protagonists."
Political Studies Review