This book argues that existentialism's concern with human existence does not simply make it another form of humanism. Influenced by Heidegger's 1947 'Letter on Humanism', structuralist and post-structuralist critics have both argued that existentialism is synonymous with a naïve 'humanist' idea of the subject. Such identification has led to the movement's dismissal as a credible philosophy; this book aims to challenge such a view.
Through a lucid and thought-provoking exploration of the concept of perversity in Sartre and Nietzsche, Mitchell argues that understanding the human as a 'perversion' of something other than itself allows us to have a philosophy of the human without the humanist subject. In short, through perversion, we can talk about the human as not merely having a relation to the world, but of being that relation. With an explicit defence of Sartre against the charge of humanism, accompanied by a novel and distinctive reinterpretation of Nietzsche, Mitchell recovers an existentialism that is at once both radical and philosophically relevant.
Dr David Mitchell received his PhD from the University of Liverpool, UK. Since 2015 he has been working as a lecturer and researcher at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.