PHIL 260- Existentialism


Course Description: 

Existentialism names a movement in 19th and 20th-Century European philosophy that explores the fundamentally creative and responsible role that human beings have in shaping the terms in which their lives, on an individual and cultural level, will be meaningful. In this course, we will study selections of writings from some major figures in this tradition, such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Marin Heidegger, and Frantz Fanon, alongside works in literature and/or film that illuminate some of the forms that human experience takes and the unique demands that these forms of experience make upon us as individuals and communities. 





Because Existentialism is concerned with the nature of lived experience, and because it is concerned with fundamental questions about how to live honestly and meaningfully, studying its major texts and thinking seriously about its major themes is a highly demanding, exciting, and rewarding personal and intellectual experience. In this course, we will explore such fundamental philosophical questions as:

  • What are the unique parameters of human experience as it is lived? What are the unique demands of shaping our own identities? What is the nature of being embodied and situated in the world? What is the nature, and what are the demands, of human freedom? What is the nature of authentic and inauthentic existence?
  • What is the nature of the experience of anxiety about the meaning of our lives? What are the fundamental roles played by others in our experience? What is the fundamental role played by creative expression in our experience? What is the nature of value and meaning in our lives?
  • How are we responsible for creatively realizing these values and meanings? How are forms of oppression fundamental denials of the nature of human experience, meaning, and freedom?

PHIL 260 counts as a course in Knowledge of the Discplines, Humanities in the General Education Program. PHIL 260 fulfills the Values requirement of the Philosophy Program.