Fall for 2015-2016
Existentialism was a literary, artistic, and philosophical movement that was primarily concerned with various threats to the possibility of human freedom. These threats can be loosely organized around several themes. Nihilism can take the form of either a rejection of life-orienting values or a denial that anything is valuable. Some authors came to worry about nihilism by way of moral and religious disillusionment (e.g., Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche), others in light of the worry that life either is or can be ultimately devoid of meaning or absurd (Camus, Kafka, Sartre). Other authors were more worried about a perceived abstraction or homogenization in modern life, a “levelling off” of possibilities for leading a distinctively individual life (Kierkegaard, Nietzsche). Sometimes this worry is expressed as a fear that the triumph of modern science and rationality strips the individual of the capacity to stamp her or his own life with a distinctive outlook or set of values (Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche). In Phil. 159 we will examine these threats to human freedom and how several existentialist philosophers proposed to deal with them.
Prerequisites: One of PHIL 010, 020, 098, or 099.
The following syllabi may help you learn more about this course (login required):
Fall '15: Blattner W (file download)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.
Other academic years
There is information about this course number in other academic years: