Borges was rooted in the Modernism predominant in its early years and was influenced by Symbolism. Like Vladimir Nabokov and James Joyce, he combined an interest in his native culture with broader perspectives, also sharing their multilingualism and inventiveness with language. However, while Nabokov and Joyce tended toward progressively larger works, Borges remained a miniaturist. His work progressed away from what he referred to as "the baroque": his later style is far more transparent and naturalistic than his earlier works. Borges represented the humanist view of media that stressed the social aspect of art driven by emotion. If art represented the tool, then Borges was more interested in how the tool could be used to relate to people.
Existentialism saw its apogee during the years of Borges's greatest artistic production. It has been argued that his choice of topics largely ignored existentialism's central tenets. Critic Paul de Man notes, "Whatever Borges's existential anxieties may be, they have little in common with Sartre's robustly prosaic view of literature, with the earnestness of Camus' moralism, or with the weighty profundity of German existential thought. Rather, they are the consistent expansion of a purely poetic consciousness to its furthest limits."
The essay collection Borges y la Matemática (Borges and Mathematics, 2003) by Argentine mathematician and writer Guillermo Martínez, outlines how Borges used concepts from mathematics in his work. Martínez states that Borges had, for example, at least a superficial knowledge of set theory, which he handles with elegance in stories such as "The Book of Sand". Other books such as The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel by William Goldbloom Bloch (2008) and Unthinking Thinking: Jorge Luis Borges, Mathematics, and the New Physics by Floyd Merrell (1991) also explore this relationship.
Fritz Mauthner, philosopher of language and author of the Wörterbuch der Philosophie (Dictionary of Philosophy), had an important influence on Borges. Borges always recognized the influence of this German philosopher. According to the literary review Sur, the book was one of the five books most noted and read by Borges. The first time that Borges mentioned Mauthner was in 1928 in his book The language of the Argentines (El idioma de los argentinos). In a 1962 interview Borges described Mauthner as possessing a fine sense of humor as well as great knowledge and erudition.