At the Intersections

Existentialism, Critical Philosophies of Race, and Feminism

Authored by: Kathryn T. Gines

The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Race

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415711234
eBook ISBN: 9781315884424
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315884424-7

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Abstract

This chapter explores how the idea of existentialism—thought as a method of inquiry and community of inquirers—changes when viewed at the intersections of critical philosophies of race and feminist philosophies. I argue that existentialism as a method of inquiry and community of inquirers is expanded, enhanced, and enriched by the existential insights of a broader range of philosophical figures. The chapter is presented in three sections. “Existentialism as a Method of Inquiry and Community of Inquirers” considers dominant representations of existentialism as European in origin and the ways in which this myopic representation of existentialism is perpetuated in anthologies from the 1950s to 2008. In “Critical Interventions: Expanding the Community and Methods of Inquiry,” I highlight the critical interventions to expand existentialism in the US context by Lewis Gordon (and critical philosophies of race) and Margaret Simons (and feminist philosophies engaged with issues of race). This section also explores contacts and influences between figures like Jean-Paul Sartre, Frantz Fanon, Lorraine Hansberry, Richard Wright, Simone de Beauvoir, and Ralph Ellison. In “Existentialism Beyond the Black/white Binary,” I take seriously the importance of thinking through existentialism, critical philosophies of race, and feminist philosophies beyond the Black (African American or Africana) and white (European) binary. 1 Toward that end, the final section provides a concise literature review of analyses of existentialism and Latina feminism, Mexican existentialism, and Latin American existentialism. I also provide examples of analyses of existentialism in modern fiction in China, Japan, and India, as well as in the music of Trich Công Són (a Vietnamese singer and songwriter). The chapter contributes to existing secondary literature by diversifying the community of existential inquirers and methods of inquiry beyond European, white, male figures and taking seriously the diverse lineages of existentialism.

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