Existentialism Is a Humanism | Study Guide

Jean-Paul Sartre

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Existentialism Is a Humanism | Key Figures

Key Figure Description
Émile Zola Émile Zola (1840–1902) was a French naturalist in whose novels forces of environment and human nature led to his characters' destruction. Read More
René Descartes René Descartes (1596–1650) was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist, often credited with being the "Father of Modern Philosophy." Read More
Martin Heidegger Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) was a leading figure in the 20th-century philosophical movement known as phenomenology and made important contributions to existentialism as well. Read More
Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), a Prussian philosopher, is perhaps best known for his theory of ethics and in particular the notion of the categorical imperative, or an absolute and categorical moral law. Read More
Søren Kierkegaard The Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard (1813–55) is widely considered to be the first existentialist. Read More
Jean Cocteau Writer, artist, and a member of the Parisian avant-garde, Jean Cocteau (1889–1963) is best known for his surrealist film, Beauty and the Beast (1946).
Auguste Comte The French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798–1857) advanced the field of social sciences, giving it the name "sociology." Sartre speaks of him in disparaging terms, accusing thinkers such as him of adopting a "cult of humanism" that rivals religion.
Denis Diderot Denis Diderot (1713-84) was a French writer and philosopher of the Enlightenment era. He was critical of both atheism and the established church.
George Eliot George Eliot is the penname for 19th-century writer Mary Ann Evans (1819–80), who wrote realist novels depicting English village life.
André Gide André Gide (1869–1951) was a French writer who received the 1947 Nobel Prize in Literature for his "comprehensive and artistically significant writings." Like Sartre he explored the limits of conventional society.
Karl Jaspers Karl Jaspers (1883–1969) was a German-Swiss psychiatrist and later philosopher who wrote about humanism; he was a Christian existentialist.
Gottfried Leibniz Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716) was a German philosopher and mathematician who made important contributions to the fields of calculus and rational philosophy.
Gabriel Marcel Gabriel Marcel (1889–1973) was the leading Christian existentialist of his day, opposing Sartre on many issues but sharing an interest in the philosophical notion of freedom.
Francis Ponge Heavily influenced by the surrealists, Ponge (1899–1988) was a French writer best known for his essays and poetry.
Marcel Proust Marcel Proust (1871–1922), a French modernist, spent more than 20 years composing the seven-volume work, Remembrance of Things Past.
Jean Racine Jean Racine (1639–99) was a 17th-century French tragedian who, along with Molière and Corneille, helped to shape the course of French drama.
Jean-Paul Sartre Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–80) is the author of the essay.
Voltaire Voltaire (1694–1778), the pseudonym of François-Marie Arouet, was a French Enlightenment thinker, known for his biting satire and clever aphorisms.
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