PHIL 225
Existentialism Spring 2024
Division II
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We will study the philosophical and literary works of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Kafka, Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Camus. One of our guiding questions will be: What makes a thinker an “Existentialist”? The answer is not merely that they ask the question, “What gives meaning to a human life?” And, it’s not merely that their answer invokes our freedom to determine our own identities. More than this, Existentialists emphasize the subjective relation we bear to our belief systems, moral codes, and personal identities. Existentialists investigate deeply irrational phenomena of human life, including anxiety, boredom, tragedy, melancholy, despair, death, faith, sexuality, love, alienation, hate, sadism, masochism, and authenticity. And, Existentialists express their thought in philosophical treatises as often as in literary works. In this course we will seek to comprehend the dimensions in which Existentialism is a distinctive intellectual tradition.
The Class: Format: tutorial; Students will meet in pairs or trios with the instructor for 60 minutes each week.
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 3642
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Students will take turns as the lead writer one week, and the respondent the next. The week's lead writer will write a 5- to 6-page essay on the assigned reading, due 36 hours before the meeting. The week's respondent will write a 2-page essay on the leader's essay due at the time of the meeting. At the meetings, both students will present their essays and hold a discussion. Students will be evaluated cumulatively on their essays and contributions to discussion.
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: preference to Philosophy majors
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: PHIL History Courses

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