This fourth edition of the Existential Philosophy for Times of Change and Crisis series will examine what difference, disability and diversity mean in light of existential philosophy. While existential philosophy places the focus on the individual and on the precedence of existence over essence, as well as on choice and freedom, it may also have been overly optimistic about the possibility for the individual to be an authentic self in a world where social norms and institutions promote direct and indirect discrimination.
Existential philosophy suggests that we are what we are in the eyes or gaze of others (Sartre) or through our acts of disclosure in the world (Beauvoir), or perhaps through the shared language games through which meaning is created (Wittgenstein). But what does this entail for individuals with minority bodies, experiences or realities, and whose experiences may be stigmatised, misunderstood or invalidated by the general community? Do cognitive, intellectual, physical and sensory disabilities or differences represent challenges to authentic self-disclosure in a world that pathologises difference and in which the language for self-understanding and communication with others, as well as an understanding and appreciation of these differences, may be lacking? What about sex/gender minorities, or individuals with other minority experiences of identity?
Do the concepts of existential philosophy have something to contribute to discussions about disability rights and pride, gender/sex identity and difference, discrimination and intersectionality? Are some founding existential concepts, such as freedom and authenticity, potentially misguided regarding certain persons’ experiences? Can existential philosophy provide new perspectives to promote the recognition, respect and appreciation of difference and diversity?
Contributions should engage with current issues from the perspectives of influential thinkers in existential philosophy and phenomenology, such as Albert Camus, Theodor Adorno, Emil Cioran, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Karl Jaspers, Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger and Ludwig Wittgenstein, and their nineteenth-century predecessors (Kierkegaard, Nietzsche…).
To propose a talk:
Scholars interested in presenting should send a 300 word abstract by 15 May 2023 to email@example.com. Notification of acceptance by 30 May 2023. Conference programme to follow. Presentations should be 25 minutes, followed by 25 minutes discussion time.
For more information, visit the conference website: