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We will study the philosophical and literary works of Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir. What makes these thinkers “Existentialists”? It’s not merely that they ask the question, “What gives meaning to a human life?” And, it’s not merely that their answers invoke 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, nausea, tragedy, despair, death, faith, love, hate, sadism, masochism, authenticity, guilt, and care. And, Existentialists express their thought in philosophical treatises as often as in literary texts. In this course we will attempt to understand these dimensions in which Existentialism is a distinctive intellectual tradition.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
four mid-length papers
PHIL History Courses