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Best Existential Philosophy Books to Read

While there are many courses and tutorials online, learning from a book is still one of the best ways to greatly improve your skills. Below I have selected top Existential Philosophy books.

1. Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy (1962)

Best Existential Philosophy Books to ReadWidely recognized as the finest definition of existentialist philosophy ever written, this book introduced existentialism to America in 1958. Barrett speaks eloquently and directly to concerns of the 1990s: a period when the irrational and the absurd are no better integrated than before and when humankind is in even greater danger of destroying its existence without ever understanding the meaning of its existence. Irrational Man begins by discussing the roots of existentialism in the art and thinking of Augustine, Aquinas, Pascal, Baudelaire, Blake,…
Author(s): William Barrett

2. Meaning-Centred Existential Analysis: Philosophy as Psychotherapy in the Work of Viktor E. Frankl (2016)

Best Existential Philosophy Books to ReadPaperback Publisher: Königshausen & Neumann (June 1, 2016) Language: English ISBN-10: 3826059255 ISBN-13: 978-3826059254 Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.8 inches Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies) Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,381,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?…
Author(s): Péter Sárkány

3. Phenomenology of the Alien: Basic Concepts (Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) (2011)

Best Existential Philosophy Books to ReadTanja Stähler and Alexander Kozin’s elegant translation of Bernhard Waldenfels’s Phenomenology of the Alien (Grundmotive einer Phänomenologie des Fremden) introduces the English readership to the philosophy of alien-experience, a multifaceted and multidimensional phenomenon that permeates our everyday experiences of the life-world with immediate implications for the ways we conduct our social, political, and ethical affairs. With impressive erudition Waldenfels weaves in xenological themes from classical philosophy, contemporary phenomenology,…
Author(s): Bernhard Waldenfels , Tanja Stähler, et al.

4. In Praise of Philosophy and Other Essays (Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) (1988)

Best Existential Philosophy Books to ReadBook by Merleau-Ponty, Maurice…
Author(s): Maurice Merleau-Ponty , John Wild, et al.

5. The Merleau-Ponty Aesthetics Reader: Philosophy and Painting (Northwester University Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) (1993)

Best Existential Philosophy Books to ReadMerleau-Ponty’s essays on aesthetics are some of the major accomplishments of his philosophical career, and rank even today among the most sophisticated reflections on art in all of twentieth-century philosophy. His essays on painting, “Cezanne’s Doubt” (1945), “Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence” (1952), and “Eye and Mind” (1960), have inspired new approaches to epistemology, ontology, and the philosophy of history. Galen A. Johnson has gathered these essays for the first time into a single volume and augmented them with essays by distinguished scholars and artists, including M.C. Dillon,…
Author(s): Galen A. Johnson, Michael B. Smith

6. The Existential Giraffe (2012)

Best Existential Philosophy Books to ReadThe Existential Giraffe is a fun kids story about a giraffe trying to figure out whether he is real, and if that matters to his life at all. The wonderfully illustrated story is amusing for adults, and entertaining for kids….
Author(s): Eric Kesselman, Erica Missey

7. Zizek’s Ontology: A Transcendental Materialist Theory of Subjectivity (Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) (2008)

Best Existential Philosophy Books to ReadSlavoj Žižek is one of the most interesting and important philosophers working today, known chiefly for his theoretical explorations of popular culture and contemporary politics. This book focuses on the generally neglected and often overshadowed philosophical core of Žižek’s work—an essential component in any true appreciation of this unique thinker’s accomplishment.             His central concern, Žižek has proclaimed, is to use psychoanalysis (especially the teachings of Jacques Lacan) to redeploy the…
Author(s): Adrian Johnston

8. Phenomenology and Embodiment: Husserl and the Constitution of Subjectivity (Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) (2014)

Best Existential Philosophy Books to ReadAt the dawn of the modern era, philosophers reinterpreted their subject as the study of consciousness, pushing the body to the margins of philosophy. With the arrival of Husserlian thought in the late nineteenth century, the body was once again understood to be part of the transcendental field. And yet, despite the enormous influence of Husserl’s phenomenology, the role of “embodiment” in the broader philosophical landscape remains largely unresolved. In his ambitious debut book, Phenomenology and Embodiment, Joona Taipale tackles the Husserlian…
Author(s): Joona Taipale

9. Political Anthropology (Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) (2018)

Best Existential Philosophy Books to ReadIn Political Anthropology (originally published in 1931 as Macht und menschliche Natur), Helmuth Plessner considers whether politics—conceived as the struggle for power between groups, nations, and states—belongs to the essence of the human. Building on and complementing ideas from his Levels of the Organic and the Human (1928), Plessner proposes a genealogy of political life and outlines an anthropological foundation of the political. In critical dialogue with thinkers such as Carl Schmitt, Eric Voegelin, and Martin Heidegger,…
Author(s): Helmuth Plessner, Heike Delitz, et al.

10. From Text to Action: Essays in Hermeneutics, II (Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) (2007)

Best Existential Philosophy Books to ReadWith his writings on phenomenology, psychoanalysis, Marxism, ideology, and religion, Paul Ricoeur has single-handedly redefined and revitalized the hermeneutic tradition. From Text to Action is an essential companion to the now classic The Conflict of Interpretations. Here, Ricoeur continues and extends his project of constructing a general theory of interpretation, positioning his work in relation to its own philosophical background: Hegel, Husserl, Gadamer, and Weber. He also responds to contemporary figures like K.O. Apel and Jü rgen Habermas, connecting his own theorization of ideology to their version…
Author(s): Paul Ricoeur , Kathleen Blamey, et al.

11. The Phenomenon of Life: Toward a Philosophical Biology (Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) (2001)

Best Existential Philosophy Books to ReadA classic of phenomenology and existentialism, The Phenomenon of Life sets forth a systematic and comprehensive philosophy–an existential interpretation of biological facts laid out in support of his claim that the mind is prefigured throughout organic existence. Hans Jonas shows how life-forms present themselves on an ascending scale of perception and freedom of action, a scale reaching its apex in a human being’s capacity for thought and morally responsible behavior….
Author(s): Hans Jonas , Eleonore Jonas, et al.

12. Signs (Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) (1964)

Best Existential Philosophy Books to Read“Speech is a way of tearing out a meaning from an undivided whole.”Thus does Maurice Merleau-Ponty describe speech in this collection of his important writings on the philosophy of expression, composed during the last decade of his life. For him, expression is a category of human behavior and existence much broader than language alone. He maintains that man is essentially expressive, even prior to speaking: in his silence, gestures, and lived behavior….
Author(s): Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Richard C. McCleary

13. Existential Philosophy and the Promise of Education: Learning from Myths and Metaphors (2016)

Best Existential Philosophy Books to ReadMyths and metaphors share not only an ability to call our attention to aspects of our world of which we were previously unaware, but also a propensity toward symbolic meanings and interpretations. In Existential Philosophy and the Promise of Education: Learning from Myths and Metaphors, Professor Gordon draws on some well-known myths and metaphors of various Existentialist thinkers and writers as a lens and an interpretative framework with which to explore a variety of issues in philosophy of education. His book argues that symbolic or metaphorical interpretations can offer us representations of problems in education…
Author(s): Mordechai Gordon

14. The Merleau-Ponty Reader (Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) (2007)

Best Existential Philosophy Books to ReadThe first reader to offer a comprehensive view of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's (1908-1961) work, this selection collects in one volume the foundational essays necessary for understanding the core of this critical twentieth-century philosopher's thought. Arranged chronologically, the essays are grouped in three sections corresponding to the major periods of Merleau-Ponty's work:  First, the years prior to his appointment to the Sorbonne in 1949, the early, existentialist period during which he wrote important works on the phenomenology of perception and the primacy of perception; second, the years of his…
Author(s): Maurice Merleau-Ponty , Leonard Lawlor, et al.

15. The Conflict of Interpretations: Essays in Hermeneutics (Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) (2007)

Best Existential Philosophy Books to ReadThis collection brings together twenty-two essays by Paul Ricoeur under the topics of structuralism, psychoanalysis, hermeneutics, and religion. In dramatic conciseness, the essays illuminate the work of one of the leading philosophers of the day. Those interested in Ricoeur’s development of the philosophy of language will find rich and suggestive reading. But the diversity of essays also speaks beyond the confines of philosophy to linguists, theologians, psychologists, and psychoanalysts….
Author(s): Paul Ricoeur , Don Ihde, et al.

Best Existential Philosophy Books to Read

We highly recommend you to buy all paper or e-books in a legal way, for example, on Amazon. But sometimes it might be a need to dig deeper beyond the shiny book cover. Before making a purchase, you can visit resources like Genesis and download some existential philosophy books mentioned below at your own risk. Once again, we do not host any illegal or copyrighted files, but simply give our visitors a choice and hope they will make a wise decision.

The Philosophy of Sartre, Volume 7 Existentialism

Author(s): Mary Warnock
Publisher: Routledge, Year: 2019, Size: 14 Mb, Download: pdf
ID: 2365565

A Process Model

Author(s): Eugene T. Gendlin
Publisher: Northwestern University Press, Year: 2018, Size: 993 Kb, Download: pdf
ID: 2165043

Political Anthropology

Author(s): Helmuth Plessner, Nils F. Schott, Heike Delitz, Robert Seyfert, Joachim Fischer
Publisher: Northwestern University Press, Year: 2018, Size: 3 Mb, Download: pdf
ID: 2298509

The Art of Being: Poetics of the Novel and Existentialist Philosophy

Author(s): Yi-Ping Ong
Publisher: Harvard University Press, Year: 2018, Size: 14 Mb, Download: pdf
ID: 2349245

Contingency and commitment : Mexican existentialism and the place of philosophy

Author(s): Carlos Alberto Sánchez
Publisher: SUNY Press, Year: 2016, Size: 890 Kb, Download: pdf
ID: 1616570

Meaning and Mortality in Kierkegaard and Heidegger: Origins of the Existential Philosophy of Death

Author(s): Adam Buben
Publisher: Northwestern University Press, Year: 2016, Size: 767 Kb, Download: pdf
ID: 1636705

Talent development, existential philosophy and sport : on becoming an elite athlete

Author(s): Aggerholm, Kenneth
Publisher: Taylor and Francis;Routledge, Year: 2015, Size: 2 Mb, Download: epub
ID: 1431116

Talent Development, Existential Philosophy and Sport: On Becoming an Elite Athlete

Author(s): Aggerholm, Kenneth
Publisher: Routledge, Year: 2015, Size: 1 Mb, Download: pdf
ID: 1431117

The Fourfold: Reading the Late Heidegger

Author(s): Andrew J. Mitchell, Anthony J. Steinbock
Publisher: Northwestern University Press, Year: 2015, Size: 1 Mb, Download: pdf
ID: 1483656

Please note that this booklist is not definite. Some books are absolutely best-sellers according to Chicago Tribune, others are drafted by unknown authors. On top of that, you can always find additional tutorials and courses on Coursera, Udemy or edX, for example. Are there any other relevant resources you could recommend? Leave a comment if you have any feedback on the list.

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