Introduction: Existentialism and Humanism

  • David Mitchell


This chapter looks at why existentialism is regarded in contemporary philosophy as outmoded. I argue that this goes back to Heidegger’s identification of existentialism with humanism in his Letter on Humanism. I also argue that a type of existentialism can escape this critique. It is shown how this is possible by developing, through engagement with other characterisations of existentialism, a meaning of existentialist thought as a ‘return to human being.’ I look at how such a return avoids humanism by rejecting the interiority of the subject. Finally, I intimate how a problem arising from this rejection, of maintaining a distinct meaning for the human, might be resolved by viewing human being as a perverse relation to something other than itself.


Existentialism Humanism Sartre Nietzsche Perversity 


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Mitchell
    • 1
  1. 1.JohannesburgSouth Africa

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