2 thoughts on “Draft of chapter 1 now available

  1. Darshan

    Dr Webber,

    If I may, I had a couple of comments in relation to your treatment of Heidegger within this introduction. While Heidegger rejects the existentialist title in the Letter on Humanism on the basis of wanting to reject more broadly the metaphysical assumptions on which it’s based, this could be (and has by some been) seen as a change in focus or approach of his thinking in which he breaks with the earlier project of Being and Time, which he sees as having failed in various ways.

    Given the possibility of this change, it could be seen as problematic to deny Heidegger’s inclusion in the existentialist tradition on the basis of the Letter on Humanism. This seems all the more problematic considering that it is on the basis of his thought in Being and Time that he is appropriated by Sartre and is included in the existentialist tradition.

    With this in mind, I think more needs to be done to distance Heidegger of Being and Time from the idea that existence precedes essence, given that this latter seems to be the core thought of existentialism as presented here. It seems that with Heidegger’s declarations that the essence of Dasein lies in its existence, with the term ‘essence’ in scare quotes, he is rejecting the idea that humans have a kind of substantive essence that determines how we exist in advance. In what follows, he seems to characterise humans as self-interpreting beings who understand themselves and the world in light of their own self-projection. It seems that this may fit the idea of essence preceding existence as you have described it.

    There are many different ways of distancing the Heidegger of Being and Time from existentialism (his motivating question as you mention, his rejection of the idea of man as ‘rational animal’ which you say is accepted by other existentialists). But as it stands I’m not sure enough has been shown here to deny Heidegger inclusion (desirable or otherwise) into existentialism as you’ve characterised it.

    I also have a bibliographical question if that’s ok. You mention de Beauvoir’s talk of the relation between emotions and one’s goals or values. Do you have a reference please? I wasn’t sure if this idea was principally to be found in her ‘Pyrrhus and Cineas’ that you mention or whether this just adds support to this view.

    Kind regards,


  2. Jonathan Webber Post author

    Thanks again for this, Darshan. It took me a while to get back to editing chapter 1, but it’s now done with this very helpful comment in mind.

    All the best,



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