Widely recognized as the finest definition of existentialist philosophy ever written, this book introduced existentialism to America in 1958. Barrett speaks eloquently and directly to concerns of the 1990s: a period when the irrational and the absurd are better integrated than before and when humankind is in even greater danger of destroying its existence without ever understanding the meaning of its existence. Irrational Manbegins by discussing the roots of existentialism in the art and thinking of Augustine, Aquinas, Pascal, Baudelaire, Blake, Dostoevski, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Picasso, Joyce, and Beckett. The heart of the book explains the views of the foremost existentialists Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre. The result is a marvelously lucid definition of existentialism and a brilliant interpretation of its impact.
William Barrett is widely known as one of the first philosophers to introduce existentialism to America. Besides a long and distinguished career as a professor of philosophy, he was editor ofPartisan Reviewand the literary critic forAtlantic Monthly. Barrett authoredThe Illusion of TechniqueandThe Truants, among other books. He died in 1992, at the age of 78.