Author Archives: Jonathan Webber


About Jonathan Webber

Reader in Philosophy, Cardiff University

Interview on the Microphilosophy podcast

There hasn’t been much Rethinking Existentialism news to report since the arrival of Covid-19.

Logo of Microphilosophy podcast

But now there is a new podcast!

Julian Baggini interviews Kate Kirkpatrick and Jonathan Webber about the contemporary relevance of the works of Beauvoir and Sartre.

The interview was recorded live at St George’s in Bristol towards the end of the pre-Covid era. It is now an episode of one of the longest and slowest running podcasts in the world, Microphilosophy.

It is freely available here.

Climbing trees, stereotypes, and a weekend course

Two online articles have been published in the past few months.

Climbing Trees and Raising Children with Simone de Beauvoir is a short article at the New Statesman website that argues for an existentialist approach to parenting based on Beauvoir’s moral philosophy and analyses of childhood and motherhood.

Against Type is a longer essay at Aeon magazine that argues for a range of contributions that a renewed attention to existentialism can make to the psychology and ethics of stereotyping and implicit bias.

Jonathan Webber will be presenting ideas from Rethinking Existentialism at a weekend course in January 2020 in Oxford. The course will feature talks by Kate Kirkpatrick, author of Becoming Beauvoir, an important new philosophical biography being published in August 2019.

Screenshot from New Statesman website 11th May 2019.

Sedimentation article at Aeon

A new Rethinking Existentialism online article is now available at Aeon magazine.

Sedimentation: the existentialist challenge to stereotypes briefly outlines the concept of sedimentation in the philosophies of Simone de Beauvoir and Frantz Fanon.

This is the third online article to present ideas from the book, following on from
The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Existentialist at OUP Blog
and Five Underrated Existentialist Classics at Five Books.

All being well, there should be more of these in 2019. Happy new year!

Oxford event and new online article

The next event is at Blackwell’s bookshop in Oxford at 11am on Saturday 1st December.

This is an interview by Nigel Warburton in the best room of the best bookshop in the world.

There will probably be (early) festive drinks and nibbles. There will certainly be books.

Please do come along if you can! To help them gauge numbers, you can register your interest online.

And a new online article has just been published: The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Existentialist.

Book Launch in Cardiff and Publication in North America

Rethinking Existentialism on bookshop shelf.Rethinking Existentialism is published in North America this week. The best way to buy it is probably through A Libris.

But I don’t know anything about book buying in North America, so if you have a better idea do let me know.

To celebrate the full release of the book, there is a book launch party in Cardiff on Tuesday 25th September at Ride My Bike café, 26 Park Place, Cathays, 6pm-8pm.

The café will be serving cakes, teas, coffees, beers, wines, ciders, juices, and fizzy pop.

There will be some books. There will be brief words about the book, probably around 6.45.

Everyone is welcome!


Underrated Existentialist Classics at Five Books

Rethinking Existentialism is now at the printing press.

It is available to pre-order with at 12% discount and free UK delivery from Blackwell’s bookshop.

The first online article exploring the book’s central themes is now available on the Five Books website.

It is an interview with Nigel Warburton about five underrated existentialist classics.

It was a lot of fun to do and I hope you enjoy reading it.

All being well, there should be more articles like this in the next few months. They will be advertised here when they appear.

Book due to be published in July

OUP Book Cover Not Yet Designed Rethinking Existentialism is now in the final editing and design stages at Oxford University Press and scheduled to hit at least some good bookshops in July.

All being well, online articles and short papers highlighting and developing themes of the book will appear between now and then. Each will be advertised on this news feed when it becomes available.

The first short paper – Beauvoir and the Meaning of Life – is now available.

Because the book is now in press, the draft chapters are no longer on the website. They have been replaced with abstracts for the book and each of its eleven chapters.

The book has been significantly improved by feedback on the draft. So, if you commented on any of the chapters: thank you!

The Imperative of Authenticity

photo of Simone de Beauvoir
A draft of chapter 10 is now available to download.

It reconstructs Beauvoir’s argument for the moral requirement of authenticity in Pyrrhus and Cineas.

The argument begins from a premise that, according to existentialism, everyone must accept: that some ends are valuable. It then argues that this commits one to valuing achieved ends as potential means to further ends, which in turn commits one to valuing the capacity to pursue projects.

If the argument is sound, then it derives the imperative to value the structure of human agency, the capacity to pursue projects, from that very structure itself.

The chapter is devoted to clarifying and detailing Beauvoir’s argument for this Kantian moral conclusion. It concludes that this argument for the imperative of authenticity should be taken seriously as a contribution to contemporary moral philosophy.

Please do let me know what you think of the chapter, either by posting in the Comments thread to this news item or sending me an email.

Draft chapters are available from the Book page.