The area of philosophy defined as existentialism gained prominence after World War II. Among the more popular existentialist philosophers and writers are Friedrich Nietzsche, Soren Kierkegaard, and Fyodor Dostoyevski. Instead of focusing upon a particular aspect of human existence, existentialists focus on the whole being as he or she exists in the world. Rebelling against the rationalism proposed by such writers as Descartes and Hegel, existentialists reject the emphasis placed on the human being as primarily a thinking being. Freedom, they counter, is central to human existence. Correspondingly, human relations and experiences can not be reduced simply to thinking, as the whole being becomes involved with the processes. This dictionary provides, through alphabetically arranged entries, brief overviews of the tenets, philosophers, and writers of existentialism.
This reference book is intended as a tool to provide students and scholars with concise information on particular existentialist thinkers, writers, terms, and ideas. The alphabetical organization, coupled with cross references throughout the text, makes the work easily accessible to those looking up specific information and to those tracing interconnected ideas, philosophers, and writers. The bibliography identifies helpful resources for further study.