From World Philosophies to Existentialism—And Back

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David E. Cooper


This essay charts the author’s philosophical journey from schoolboy enthusiasms for Sartre, Plato, and Buddhism to the equally intercultural themes of his writings over the last few decades. It tells of his disillusion with the dominant style of philosophy in 1960s Oxford and of the liberating effect of working for three years in the USA. The author relates the revival of his interest in Existentialism and how his reading of Heidegger led to an increasing appreciation of Asian traditions of thought. The essay explains why it is important for philosophers to be acquainted with non-western traditions. This importance is illustrated by the ways in which the author draws upon various world philosophies in his recent writings on, for example, mystery, our relationship to nature, and the significance of beauty.

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How to Cite
Cooper, D. (2018). From World Philosophies to Existentialism—And Back. Journal of World Philosophies, 3(2), 105-109. Retrieved from
Philosophical Journeys
Author Biography

David E. Cooper

David E. Cooper is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Durham University, having previously taught at the Universities of Oxford, Miami, London, and Surrey. He has been a visiting professor at universities in the USA, Canada, Malta, Germany, South Africa, and Sri Lanka, and the chair or president of several organizations, including the Aristotelian Society and the Friedrich Nietzsche Society. He is also the secretary and a trustee of the registered charity, Project Sri Lanka. His many books include Authenticity and Learning: Nietzsche’s Educational Philosophy (1983), Existentialism: A Reconstruction (1990, 2nd ed. 1999), World Philosophies: An Historical Introduction (1996, 2nd ed. 2003), The Measure of Things: Humanism, Humility and Mystery (2003), A Philosophy of Gardens (2006), Convergence with Nature: A Daoist Perspective (2012), Senses of Mystery: Engaging with Nature and the Meaning of Life (2017), Animals and Misanthropy (2018), and the novel Street Dog: A Sri Lankan Story (2018).