We will explore excerpts from texts by Kierkegaard, Sartre, and Heidegger. Additional reading will probably include the work of Nietzsche and Buber, as well as more recent philosophers writing about values, the meaning of life, and human freedom. Among the questions central to our discussion will be:
- What is it to be human?
- What burdens come with the capacity to ask this question?
- What special vulnerabilities?
- What is the relationship between our responsibility for our choices and the fact that we can reflect on (and distance ourselves from) ourselves?
- To what extent are we responsible for the significance we attribute to our choices?
Existentialists try to answer these questions with such opaque claims as "Existence precedes essence" and "I am not what I am, and I am what I am not." What are they trying to get at with these claims? Students will be expected to read very difficult texts very carefully.
Grades will be assigned on the basis of class participation and papers.
Students with some experience in upper-level Philosophy courses.
3 hrs of lecture per week