Volume 4, Issue 2, 2012
Zeynep Zafer Esenyel
The concept of ‘humanism’ from Existence to Being: Sartre vs. Heidegger
Humanism as an ideological term in the modern sense finds its roots in the 18th century Enlightenment. However, it has been exposed to some important changes. For example, Sartre and Heidegger interpreted the concept of humanism by abstracting it from its ideological content and differentiated the term according to their own essential understanding. At the end they both identified their original grasp of humanism with their own philosophies, which at first glance resemble each other as Sartre thought, but in detail are very different. The difference between the concepts of humanism that Sartre and Heidegger understand occurs in their starting point of philosophizing. Sartre, according to Heidegger, starts from existence and could not be able to understand Being. For this reason, Sartre reaches a different kind of understanding on humanism. On the opposite side, Heidegger insists on moving from Being itself, hence attains another concept of humanism which has a different content from Sartre. In this paper my aim is to discuss the concept of humanism on the basis of these two philosophers’ views and draw a frame for understanding how the term gains different implications. In this context, the issue is argued on the basis of the works of Sartre Existentialism Is a Humanism and Heidegger The Age of World Pictures and Letter on Humanism.