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date: 04 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Humanism Debate was an extended critical discussion of the relationship between ethical values and human nature. The most famous exchange in this debate was that between Sartre and Heidegger. On one side Sartre proclaimed in his 1945 lecture (Sartre 1946) that ‘Existentialism is a Humanism’; on the other side Heidegger responded in his 1946 ‘Letter on Humanism’ (Heidegger 1947) that it was necessary to ‘speak against humanism’. But the debate was not confined to Sartre and Heidegger: its participants included many of the leading French and German philosophers of the twentieth century, too many to discuss here. This article discusses the contributions of Sartre and Heidegger, as well as Lukács, Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, and Derrida.

Keywords: Humanism Debate, ethical values, human nature, Sartre, Heidegger

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