Philosophy is always evolving, with new thinkers drawing on the
works of the past.
Revising Never Ends, Nor Should It…
Do not use this site as a study
guide. The Existential Primer is a “living” academic
project, unlike a static text. This primer is only a shallow introduction
to the thinkers profiled. The incomplete nature of this website might result
in misunderstanding the profiled individuals.
These pages are revised often because scholarship is never ending. Consult any citations
included because within them is where you will find the experts.
Read their works!
NOTE: Citations are not in MLA or APA format to prevent “borrowing”
from The Existential Primer. Full lists of citations appear at the end of each page. Present tense is used when referencing a published work, while past tense is favored on these pages because the major figures are… dead. Inline citations take the form (Author p. page) with no year. A title is included if there might be confusion as to the work. Quoted long passages appear indented with the <blockquote> tag and cited in the format:
Author, p. Page
General Trends in Philosophy
Continental philosophies are the schools of modern philosophical
thought which developed on the continent of Europe, primarily France and
Germany. Analytic philosophy, often associated with “deconstruction” and
linear approaches, is associated with the United Kingdom and the United
States. The two major approaches to philosophy diverged with the rise of
phenomenology, founded in Germany by Edmund Husserl. Phenomenology attempts to describe the
structures of consciousness in the constitution of reality.
Continental schools of philosophy tend to move beyond the natural sciences.
Modern continental thinkers moved into metaphysical studies and theories
of experience. Phenomenology led to the existentialism of Jean-Paul
Sartre and Martin Heidegger. Other continental
thinkers were influenced by linguistics and the post-structuralism of Derrida.
Continental philosophy is central to the very issues of language, communication,
meaning, and reference which currently dominate analytic philosophy, ironically.
Because of this emphasis on radical individualism, existentialism
is sometimes compared to Ayn Rand’s objectivism or political libertarianism.
Like existentialists, Rand and her followers used the arts to further a
philosophy. However, objectivism claims there are basic, universal truths
of human nature and experience. Rand’s works and objectivism embody a neo-liberal
philosophy of personal self-interest and, by some, of greed. Most of the
existential thinkers of the twentieth century are associated with left-leaning
democratic socialism and even communism. Yes, this is also contradictory
on its face, reflecting the complexity of any attempt to unravel existentialism.