PHIL 336: Twentieth-Century Continental Thought: Existentialism

PHIL 336-001: 20th Cent Contin Thgt:Existent
(Spring 2024)

10:30 AM to 11:45 AM MW

Aquia Building 219

View in the schedule of classes

Section Information for Spring 2024

Fulfills the requirement for a course in continental philosophy for the philosophy major.

This course examines the philosophical idea behind existentialism. Rather than a movement, Existentialism can be identified as a loose collection of thinkers who cannot be said to agree in terms of either philosophical content or method. However, each in their own way is responding to the crisis of the modern subject.

We will use the philosophy of Descartes as a frame and Sartre’s maxim ‘existence precedes essence’ as a guiding thread for the course. The thinkers we will be reading fall into two broad categories: the phenomenological existentialists (Sartre, de Beauvoir and Fanon) and the non- phenomenological existentialists (Kierkegaard, Buber and Camus). The phenomenological existentialists recognize the limitations of Cartesian Subjectivity but attempt to salvage as much as possible from Descartes’s modernist project. Kierkegaard and Buber develop relational ontologies in place of the Descartes’ subject-object dualism. And Camus starts from the collapse of the Cartesian project and develops a response in terms of the Absurd.

Throughout the course we will attempt to situate existentialism as historically dependent upon modernity and look at what it means to be a human subject or person in this context. 

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Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Examination of existential philosophy from its 19th-century origins to its 20th-century expressions. Philosophers studied include Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, De Beauvoir, and Buber. Limited to three attempts.
Recommended Prerequisite: 3 hours of PHIL or permission of instructor.
Schedule Type: Lecture
Grading:
This course is graded on the Undergraduate Regular scale.

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