The An-Denken of Existentialism: Vattimo’s Heidegger and the Aesthetics of Living

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    This paper develops the contention that the implications of Martin Heidegger’s thought for an “aesthetics of living” have already been explored in fruitful ways in Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialist philosophy. Sartrean existentialism, however, is typically understood today as an outmoded philosophy, not least because of the criticisms which have been mounted against it from the perspective of Heidegger’s later thought. This paper argues for a new approach to the contemporary relevance of Sartre’s existentialism, understood as a development of Heideggerian themes for an aesthetics of living, by exploring Peter Carravetta’s suggestion that Gianni Vattimo’s philosophy of “weak thought” gives us “freedom to reopen the dossier of existentialism.” Specifically, Vattimo’s development of Heidegger’s concept of An-Denken (“recollection” or “rememoration”) allows a principled reconsideration of Sartre’s thought which highlights those elements which are significant for our “current situation.” Specifically, in line with Vattimo’s reading of Heidegger as an anti-foundational thinker, the An-Denken of existentialism allows us to see Sartre’s work as a radical application of anti-foundationalist principles to lived experience and our understanding of our selves, in which aesthetic principles come into play in order to give our lives meaning and value.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHeidegger and the Aesthetics of Living
    EditorsVrasidas Karalis
    Place of PublicationNewcastle
    PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
    Number of pages19
    ISBN (Print)1847185061, 9781847185068
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


    • Heidegger, Martin
    • Vattimo, Gianni
    • Sartre, Jean-Paul


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