Making Sense of Ourselves (PHIL 112)

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Instructor: Christian Loew. This course meets Monday – Friday from 11:30 a.m to 1:00 p.m.

Allegedly, the question of the meaning of life used to have an easy and obvious answer: in terms of God, transcendent values, heaven, etc. With the advances of science, however, appeals to supernatural phenomena became increasingly suspect. Hence, Nietzsche’s famous exclamation: “God is dead.” Religion was no longer felt to give satisfying answers to the questions of life.

In this class, we will look at how famous philosophers have answered the question of the meaning of life—and what that question is even supposed to be. Among others, we will study proposals by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Hegel, Heidegger, Sartre and Camus. The goals of the class are: (i) becoming familiar with the projects of these philosophers, and (ii) getting clearer on the problems and prospects of making sense of ourselves and our lives.

Texts:
Julian Young – The Death of God and the Meaning of Life
Plato – Phaedrus
Nietzsche – The Genealogy of Morals

Christian Loew’s webpage