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The Worlds of Existentialism: A Critical Reader Paperback – 19 Apr 1991


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Product details

  • Paperback: 590 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (19 April 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573922765
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573922760
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 3.3 x 21.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 195,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Synopsis

Maurice Friedman's masterly anthology still stands apart decades after its original publication. It has become established as a classic - the most comprehensive collection of existentialist writing ever assembled. This edition includes a special preface by Professor Friedman surveying the developments in the field since this monumental work was first published and commenting on its relevance for present intellectual trends. The aim of this anthology is to elucidate the critical issues that exist among the existentialists, such as phenomenology and ontology, the existential subject, intersubjectivity, religion, and psychotherapy.To accomplish this aim Friedman has presented a large number of short selections from the most important existentialist writers and their forerunners, subsumed under these themes. Since this anthology is uniquely organised not by authors but by issues, the student should be able to recognise the various strains of existentialism, which Friedman views not as a single philosophy but a mood embracing a number of disparate philosophies, thus avoiding the easy labelling that distorts and oversimplifies this multifaceted movement.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Jun. 2001
Format: Paperback
Friedman has collected massive anthology of existentialist texts starting from bible, continuing writers such as Dostoevsky, Nietsche, Sartre, Jaspers, Kierkegaard, Camus, Kafka, Tillich and Friedman. Book is divided under titles such as phenomenology, existential subject, atheist, humanist and religious existentialism and existentialism and psyhotherapy. Book is excellent anthology of existentialist texts, probably best anthology in this field.
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Format: Paperback
The book is divided into seven parts:
1. Forerunners
2. Phenomenology and ontology
3. The existential subject
4. Intersubjectivity
5. Atheist, humanist and religious existentialism
6. Existentialism and psychotherapy
7. Issues and conclusions

The range of writers featured is very broad. There are all the usual suspects, Sartre, Buber, Frankl, Kirekegaard, Camus, Tillich, Jaspers, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky and so on, but there also many names I wasn't familiar with, such as Rosensweig, Ebner, Berdyaev, Lynd, and Maritain, for example. In total, there are more than 50 different authors featured. Oddly, there is nothing by Simone de Beauvoir. Possibly this is because her contribution to existentialist thought was rather belatedly recognized and this book was published back in 1964. I was also a little surprised that R.D. Laing was absent from the psychotherapy section of the book. But it's difficult to complain too hard given the wealth of what is included.

I liked the style of this reader. Friedman does not restrict himself to simply selecting intact portions of text from the writers concerned. He does do this, but often he instead produces abbreviated versions by quoting a sequence of selected short extracts - a kind of edited highlights approach (usefully he gives page numbers for each extract). To me, this works really well. It also allows him to fit even more into the 550 pages. There are hundreds of selections, so this book is great for opening at random and letting yourself be surprised.

The only real downside is that there is nothing here that was published post-1964.
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By John Rowan VINE VOICE on 7 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback
Nobody can claim to know existentialism who has not seen this book. It has been out of print for many years, and it is quite a gift to have it back again. It is hard to emphasise too strongly what a magnificent achievement it is. If you have even the smallest interest in existentialism, you must have this book on your shelf! (Or in your Kindle!)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An excellent selection: quality, quantity and breadth 10 Jun. 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The book is divided into seven parts:
1. Forerunners
2. Phenomenology and ontology
3. The existential subject
4. Intersubjectivity
5. Atheist, humanist and religious existentialism
6. Existentialism and psychotherapy
7. Issues and conclusions

The range of writers featured is very broad. There are all the usual suspects, Sartre, Buber, Frankl, Kirekegaard, Camus, Tillich, Jaspers, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky and so on, but there also many names I wasn't familiar with, such as Rosensweig, Ebner, Berdyaev, Lynd, and Maritain, for example. In total, there are more than 50 different authors featured. Oddly, there is nothing by Simone de Beauvoir. Possibly this is because her contribution to existentialist thought was rather belatedly recognized and this book was published back in 1964. I was also a little surprised that R.D. Laing was absent from the psychotherapy section of the book. But it's difficult to complain too hard given the wealth of what is included.

I liked the style of this reader. Friedman does not restrict himself to simply selecting intact portions of text from the writers concerned. He does do this, but often he instead produces abbreviated versions by quoting a sequence of selected short extracts - a kind of edited highlights approach (usefully he gives page numbers for each extract). To me, this works really well. It also allows him to fit even more into the 550 pages. There are hundreds of selections, so this book is great for opening at random and letting yourself be surprised.

The only real downside is that there is nothing here that was published post-1964. This means, for example, that although the psychotherapy section includes Rollo May, Medard Boss and the Rogers-Buber dialogue, there is necessarily no Irvin Yalom or James Bugental. Even so, I've still given this book 5 stars because of the quality, quantity and breadth of what it does include. And anyway, I can't really criticise Maurice Friedman for not including work that hadn't been written at the time he published this book.

A phenomenal amount of work has clearly gone into choosing and arranging the various selections from so many different sources. The result is in an excellent reader, and I recommend it highly.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Rare gem of an anthology on existentialism 26 May 2011
By B. R. Tong - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The copy I ordered was meant to replace an earlier one that I had either lost, misplaced or inadvertently given away (by way of a loan). This collection is probably the most instructive, balanced and comprehensive of anthologies on existentialism and its manifestations over time. It's rather like vintage wine that continues to have strength and taste with the years.
Excellent presentation of Buber's thought 12 Feb. 2015
By Thomas J. Farrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In effect, the anthology THE WORLDS OF EXISTENTIALISM: A CRITICAL READER (revised edition, 1999; orig. ed., 1964) that Maurice Friedman has skillfully compiled is his 550-page commonplace book, with his editorial introductions and commentaries on the selections interspersed through the book.

Friedman is an expert on Martin Buber's thought. As a result, Buber's thought is well represented in the selections in Friedman's commonplace book.

Friedman himself appropriates and uses Buber's thought as the basic framework for his own thought. Friedman's own thought is represented in his commonplace book not only by his introductions and commentaries, but also by selections from his own earlier publications.

In the spirit of working with Buber's thought as his basic framework, Friedman develops the idea of existential trust. No doubt existential trust as he delineates contributes to I-Thou communication emerging between two persons, as he says it does.

Now, on pages 505-521, Friedman includes selections from his 1963 book PROBLEMATIC REBEL: AN IMAGE OF MAN (pages 505-507) and his 1962 article "Existential Psychotherapy and the Image of Man" (pages 507-521).

I want to call attention to something curious that emerges in Friedman's own thought - or more precisely, to something that does not emerge in his own thought.

On page 505, Friedman says, "The father is the first and often the most lasting image of man [not the generic term "man" meaning humankind] for the son."

Friedman goes on to argue that the son needs "a relationship with the father which will help him find direction in the choices he must make between one way of life and another. This need is not for identification but dialogue" (page 505).

However, nowhere in this 550-page commonplace book, not in the introductory commentaries that were in the original 1964 edition, nor in the "Preface to the Paperback Edition" (pages xiii-xix) does Friedman even so much as hint that the son may also need a relationship with his mother (or mother-figure in his life).

Nevertheless, I assume that Friedman was born of a woman. In his mother's womb, he most likely formed a sense of basic trust, the basic trust that is basic to existential trust after one is born. No doubt the newborn baby must experience existential relationship and dialogue with the mother (or mother-figure) after birth to further develop this basic trust formed in the mother's womb. So why is Friedman silent about the son's need for relationship and dialogue with the mother (or mother-figure)?

Now, in the text of the original 1964 edition of his commonplace book, Friedman includes selections from articles by Hans Trub, translated here for the first time into English by William Hallo (pages 497-499) and Friedman (pages 499-505).

In Friedman's introductory commentary to the subsection of his commonplace book in which the selections by Trub appear, Friedman says, "The Swiss psychotherapist Hans Trub was a Jungian analyst for ten years, but broke from his personal and doctrinal dependence on Jung under the impact of his friendship with Martin Buber" (page 366).

So in Friedman's view in 1964, Trub is no longer a suspected "bad guy" (a Jungian), but now is a "good guy" because of the influence of Buber on him personally and on Buber's thought on his publications, selections of which Friedman includes here in his commonplace book.

However, in Friedman's later "Preface to the Paperback Edition" of his commonplace book, he does not even so much as mention the Austrian-born American Jungian psychotherapist Edward C. Whitmont, M.D. (1912-1998), who ably integrated Buber's thought in his books THE SYMBOLIC QUEST: BASIC CONCEPTS OF [JUNGIAN] ANALYTICAL PSYCHOLOGY (revised edition, 1991; orig. ed., 1969) and RETURN OF THE GODDESS (1982).

Because Trub broke with Jung as a result of the impact of Buber and Buber's thought on his life, as Friedman says he did, then we should note that Whitmont did not break with Jung and his thought as a result of integrating Buber's thought in his own books.

Moreover, Whitmont's book RETURN OF THE GODDESS (1982) in effect calls our attention to Friedman's failure to discuss the son's need for relationship and dialogue with the mother (or mother-figure), the first woman onto whom the son projects the archetypal feminine -- in short, the Goddess archetype.

Now, in the book THE DUALITY OF HUMAN EXISTENCE: AN ESSAY ON PSYCHOLOGY AND RELIGION (1966), David Bakan of the University of Chicago discusses two dimensions of human psychology: agency and communion. The experience of communion harkens back to the growing fetus's sense of oneness with the mother in the mother's womb.

What Buber and Friedman refer to as I-Thou communication involves the optimal mutual experience of communion between two human persons. Buber and Friedman refer to I-Thou communication as involving the interhuman.

Now, when St. Francis of Assisi expresses a deep sense of communion with certain parts of the cosmos by using metaphoric language of "brother" and "sister," then we should speak of his sense of interbeing with the cosmos, or at least with certain parts of the cosmos.

See Eloi Leclerc's book THE CANTICLE OF CREATURES: SYMBOLS OF UNION: AN ANALYSIS OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI, translated by Matthew J. O'Connell (1977; orig. French ed., 1970).

But individual persons may have the optimal experience of communion in profound mystical experiences. In the monotheistic religious traditions, profound mystical experiences are thought to involve the experience in this life of God - in other words, the experience of God's immanence.

See, for example, A. N. Williams' book THE GROUND OF UNION: DEIFICATION IN AQUINAS AND PALAMAS (1999).

Now, just as we can speak of the individual personal experience of God's immanence in our psyches at times of profound mystical experiences, so too we can speak of God's transcendence - as the transcendent divine ground of being.

However, in one of the two accounts of creation in Genesis, we read that the supposed monotheistic deity personified there as "God" supposedly rested on the supposed seventh day of creation.

But the idea of God supposedly resting on the seventh day of creation can obscure something about God and creation - God's creation has never stopped - it continues to this day.

If we refer to God as the transcendent divine ground of being, then we mean that all being exists because of God - all that is has come into being because of God.

No God = No being = Nothing = Nada.

Next, I want to mention that Friedman did not include any selections from publications by Abraham Joshua Heschel in the original 1964 edition of his commonplace book.

However, when Friedman later wrote his book ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL AND ELIE WISEL (1987), he came to the conclusion that Heschel is indeed basically an existentialist.

Therefore, in Friedman's "Preface to the Paperback Edition" of his commonplace book, he includes four lengthy paragraphs from his 1987 book about Heschel (quoted on pages xvi-xvii). But I want to quote here only the second of the four paragraphs:

"`Heschel's divergence from such thinkers as [Martin] Heidegger and [Paul] Tillich does not mean that he is less existentialist than they. "Ideas, formulas, or doctrines are generalities, impersonal, timeless," writes Heschel, "and as such they remain incongruous with the essential mode of human existence which is concrete, personal, here and now." The infinite meaning to which all things allude is not an OBJECT, a self-subsistent, timeless idea or value - but a PRESENCE. To Heschel transcendence is not an article of faith but "what we come upon immediately when standing face to face with reality." An ultimate being that is not related to us and does not care about us can be of no concern to us" (quoted on page xvi; I have here capitalized two words that Friedman had italicized).

Next, I want to list here five different books that have come to my attention over the years in which presence is discussed - each written independently of the other four:

(1) Walter J. Ong's book THE PRESENCE OF THE WORD: SOME PROLEGOMENA FOR CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS HISTORY (1967), the expanded published version of his 1964 Terry Lectures at Yale University.
(2) Hans Urs von Balthasar's book PRESENCE AND THOUGHT: AN ESSAY ON THE RELIGIOUS PHILOSOPHY OF GREGORY OF NYSSA, TRANSLATED BY Mark Sebanc (1995; orig. French ed., 1988).
(3) Robert Sokolowski's book EUCHARISTIC PRESENCE: A STUDY IN THE THEOLOGY OF DISCLOSURE (1995).
(4) Hans Belting's book LIKENESS AND PRESENCE: A HISTORY OF THE IMAGE BEFORE THE ERA OF ART, translated by Edmund Jephcott (1994; Orig. German ed., 1990).
(5) George Steiner's book REAL PRESENCES (1989).

Now, in the above-quoted passage from Friedman about Heschel indicates, the passage about transcendence evidently refers to our personal subjective sense of transcendence of "`what we come upon immediately when standing face to face with reality.'"

But what we come upon immediately evokes our sense of immediacy, presentness, and presence.

Even though David Abram does not happen to discuss presence explicitly in his book THE SPELL OF THE SENSUOUS: PERCEPTION AND LANGUAGE IN A MORE-THAN-HUMAN WORLD (1996), he does repeatedly discuss the present (pages 201-204, 206-217, 222-223, 272-273).

In the above-quoted passage, Friedman also mentions "an object, a self-subsistent, timeless idea or value" - such as Plato's Ideas.

In the scholarly book SPECTACLES OF TRUTH IN CLASSICAL GREEK PHILOSOPHY: THEORIA IN ITS CULTURAL CONTEXT (2004), Andrea Wilson Nightingale of Stanford University shows that Plato's Ideas are rooted in visual cognitive processing.

In the massively researched scholarly book RAMUS, METHOD, AND THE DECAY OF DIALOGUE: FROM THE ART OF DISCOURSE TO THE ART OF REASON (1958), Ong works with the aural-visual opposition that he acknowledges borrowing from the French philosopher Louis Lavelle (1883-1951). Using the aural-visual opposition, Ong argues that the entire history of logic or dialectic in Western culture from Aristotle down to Peter Ramus (1515-1572) is rooted in visual cognitive processing, not in aural cognitive processing.

One of Hegel's works is titled THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF THE MIND.

Broadly speaking, the aural-visual opposition that both Lavelle and Ong work with can be understood as their way of approaching the phenomenology of the mind.

Even though Friedman has included in his commonplace book selections from other approaches to the phenomenology of the mind, he has included no selections from Lavelle or Ong.

Nor has Friedman included any selections from Bernard Lonergan's approach to the phenomenology of the mind in his philosophical masterpiece INSIGHT: A STUDY OF HUMAN UNDERSTANDING (1957).

Without explicitly adverting to the aural-visual opposition that Lavelle and Ong work with, Abram examines aural cognitive processing to the best of his ability in his book THE SPELL OF THE SENSOUS (1996), mentioned above. In other words, Abram does not follow the example of Lavelle and Ong and discuss both aural and visual cognitive processing. Instead, he discusses aural cognitive processing to the best of his ability.

Similarly, Nightingale in her above-mentioned book does not explicitly advert to the aural-visual opposition that Lavelle and Ong work with. Instead, she discusses visual cognitive processing to the best of her ability.

In the above-quoted passage from Friedman about Heschel's thought, we should understand that our sense of ideas as objects, and our sense of objectivity, is rooted in our visual cognitive processing.

In contrast, our experience of presence, when we do experience presence, as we do in I-Thou communication, is rooted in aural cognitive processing.

The basic thrust of Ong's thought in his extensive body of work is phenomenological and personalist in cast. Like Friedman, Ong never tired of endorsing I-Thou communication.
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