The Most Famous Existentialist: Exploring Prominent Figures in Existentialism

Choose the Existentialist you think is the most famous!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Apr 10, 2024 08:09
Welcome to StrawPoll's ultimate showdown of philosophical titans! Dive into the enigmatic world of existentialism and cast your vote to determine who truly reigns supreme as the most famous Existentialist of all time. Will it be the melancholic musings of Søren Kierkegaard, or the daring defiance of Jean-Paul Sartre? Perhaps the poetic ponderings of Friedrich Nietzsche, or the radical revelations of Simone de Beauvoir? As you explore the depths of these profound thinkers, remember – your vote has the power to shape the course of existential history! And if you feel a deserving philosopher has been overlooked, fear not, for you have the option to suggest and champion their existential cause. So, join us now as we embark on a journey to uncover the essence of existence and crown the ultimate philosopher of the void!

Who Is the Most Famous Existentialist?

  1. 1
    Jean-Paul Sartre - considered the father of Existentialism, his works such as "Being and Nothingness" and "No Exit" have become canonical in the field.
    Jean-Paul Sartre in other rankings
  2. 2
    Friedrich Nietzsche
    Friedrich Hermann Hartmann · Public domain

    Friedrich Nietzsche

    Friedrich Nietzsche
    Friedrich Nietzsche - while not an Existentialist in the strict sense, Nietzsche's ideas of self-creation, the death of God, and the will to power have influenced the movement greatly.
    Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher and cultural critic who is considered one of the most challenging philosophers to read. His works are characterized by their complex and often contradictory ideas, aphoristic writing style, and extensive use of metaphor and rhetoric. Nietzsche scrutinized various philosophical, moral, and cultural assumptions prevalent in Western society, questioning traditional values and advocating for a reevaluation of morality, religion, and human existence. His philosophy has had a profound influence on various disciplines including philosophy, literature, psychology, and anthropology.
    • Aphoristic Writing Style: Nietzsche's works are often composed in short, concise statements or aphorisms that require careful interpretation.
    • Idea of Eternal Recurrence: Nietzsche proposed the concept of eternal recurrence, suggesting that all events in the universe would recur infinitely.
    • Will to Power: Nietzsche theorized that the driving force behind all human actions is the will to power, asserting that power is the fundamental determinant of human behavior.
    • Death of God: Nietzsche famously proclaimed the death of God, signaling the decline of traditional religious beliefs and the need for new values and meaning.
    • Master-Slave Morality: Nietzsche critiqued traditional moral systems, arguing that they are rooted in a slave mentality that suppresses individual potential and creativity.
    Friedrich Nietzsche in other rankings
  3. 3
    Martin Heidegger is a philosopher who developed a unique brand of Existentialism that focused on the concept of Being, his works include "Being and Time" and "What Is Metaphysics?".
    Martin Heidegger in other rankings
  4. 4
    Simone de Beauvoir is a feminist philosopher who applied Existentialism to the question of gender, her works include "The Second Sex" and "The Ethics of Ambiguity".
    Simone de Beauvoir in other rankings
  5. 5
    Albert Camus is a writer and philosopher who explored the absurdity of life in works such as "The Stranger" and "The Myth of Sisyphus".
    Albert Camus in other rankings
  6. 6
    Søren Kierkegaard is often considered a precursor to Existentialism, Kierkegaard's works such as "Fear and Trembling" and "Either/Or" explored the individual's relationship to God and society.
    Søren Kierkegaard in other rankings
  7. 7
    Franz Kafka is a writer whose works such as "The Metamorphosis" and "The Trial" explore the absurdity and alienation of modern life. Kafka's themes have been influential in Existentialist literature.
    Franz Kafka in other rankings
  8. 8
    Martin Buber is a philosopher who developed the concept of the I-Thou relationship, which emphasizes mutual respect and recognition between individuals. His work has been influential in Existentialist ethics.
  9. 9
    Miguel de Unamuno
    Agence de presse Meurisse · Public domain
    Miguel de Unamuno is a Spanish writer and philosopher who explored the concept of the tragic sense of life, which emphasizes the struggle between reason and faith. His works include "The Tragic Sense of Life" and "Niebla".
  10. 10
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty is a philosopher who explored the relationship between perception and ontology, his works include "Phenomenology of Perception" and "The Visible and the Invisible". His ideas have been influential in Existentialist phenomenology.

Missing your favorite Existentialist?


Ranking factors for famous Existentialist

  1. 1) Impact and influence
    Consider the extent to which the philosopher's works have impacted the field of Existentialism and broader philosophical discourse.
  2. 2) Popularity
    Take into account the philosopher's popularity and recognition among academics and the general public.
  3. 3) Contribution to the field
    Consider the philosopher's specific contributions to the theory and practice of Existentialism.
  4. 4) Quality of work
    Assess the philosophical quality and rigor of the philosopher's ideas and concepts.
  5. 5) Historical significance
    Consider the philosopher's historical context and the role they played in shaping philosophical discourse and thought during their time.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most famous Existentialist. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or Existentialist is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 183 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each Existentialist once every 24 hours. The rank of each Existentialist is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most famous existentialist

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a school of thought that emphasizes individual freedom and choice, the search for meaning in life, and the inevitability of death. Existentialism rejects the notion that there is any inherent meaning or purpose in life, and instead emphasizes the importance of creating one's own meaning and purpose. Some of the most famous existentialist thinkers include Jean-Paul Sartre, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, and Albert Camus. Each of these philosophers brought their own unique perspective to the movement, but they all shared a common interest in exploring the nature of human existence and the human condition. When it comes to determining the most famous existentialist, opinions may vary. However, many would argue that Jean-Paul Sartre is the most well-known and influential figure in the movement. Sartre was a prolific writer, playwright, and philosopher who was deeply committed to the exploration of existentialist themes. His works, including "Being and Nothingness" and "No Exit," continue to be widely read and studied today.

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