PHIL 224.001 – Existential Philosophy

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Instructor: Markus Kohl. This course meets TR 2:00 – 3:15 p.m. in CW 105.

This course examines philosophical attempts to come to terms with issues that are central to our modern human condition, such as: our self-awareness of our finitude (the inevitability of death); the impression that life has no objective meaning; the (for some exciting, for others frightening) sense that there is no room for binding moral principles in a secular world (“if God is dead, then everything is permitted”); and, the sense that the advent of modern science poses a powerful threat to human values and culture.

We will focus our attention on the writings of Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus. Other figures to be studied include Fjodor Dostoievski, Franz Kafka, Karl Jaspers, and Max Horkheimer. At the end of class, we will consider the themes of the course from the perspective of film, namely Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal.