Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
It is helpful to distinguish between existentialism, as a philosophy of existence that flourished intermittently across Europe during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the existentialist movement, which rose to intellectual prominence in France after World War II. Although the former poses many provocative ethical questions, it remained rather diffuse and apolitical until it was seized on by a group of French intellectuals who identified themselves as members of a distinctive movement led by Jean-Paul Sartre. The latter's influence on radical political thought has been extensive, and despite the movement's demise by the 1960s, an existentialist style of philosophizing about everyday life and existentialist concerns about individual freedom continue to reverberate in contemporary political theory. There is no consensus as to which thinkers qualify as existentialists, and the label was first proposed by Gabriel Marcel in the 1940s. In addition to those who would explicitly identify with the existentialist movement, ...