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Existentialism

“That individual”: When S0ren Kierkegaard suggested this epitaph for himself, he unknowingly summarized a diverse collection of ideas and philosophies that would later become known as existentialism. It has become a truism to observe that existentialism is impossible to define with precision. Many philosophers who have traditionally been called existentialists either did not apply this label to themselves or repudiated it altogether. In his excellent overview of existentialism, Luther J. Binkley points out that every person, according to Kierkegaard, “is subjectively very much an individual and has the inalienable right to be himself.” This emphasis on the “primacy of the individual” is something that Kierkegaard and Nietzsche have in common, despite their many differences, and this theme recurs throughout the writings of philosophers who are ...

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