The Humanism Debate

Thomas Baldwin

in The Oxford Handbook of Continental Philosophy

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780199234097
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:


 The Humanism Debate

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The Humanism Debate was an extended critical discussion of the relationship between ethical values and human nature. The most famous exchange in this debate was that between Sartre and Heidegger. On one side Sartre proclaimed in his 1945 lecture (Sartre 1946) that ‘Existentialism is a Humanism’; on the other side Heidegger responded in his 1946 ‘Letter on Humanism’ (Heidegger 1947) that it was necessary to ‘speak against humanism’. But the debate was not confined to Sartre and Heidegger: its participants included many of the leading French and German philosophers of the twentieth century, too many to discuss here. This article discusses the contributions of Sartre and Heidegger, as well as Lukács, Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, and Derrida.

Keywords: Humanism Debate; ethical values; human nature; Sartre; Heidegger

Article.  17607 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Social and Political Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy

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