PHIL 224.001 – Existential Philosophy and the Meaning(lessness) of Life

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Instructor: Markus Kohl. This course meets TR 12:30 – 1:45 p.m. via synchronous remote instruction.

This course examines philosophical attempts to come to terms with issues that are central to our modern human condition, such as: our self-awareness that we are finite beings and that death is inevitable for us; 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 powerful threat that modern science poses to human values and culture. These issues will be considered from both theistic and atheistic perspectives.

The main focus of the class will be on central ideas in the writings of Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus. We will also consider existentialist themes in literature (e.g. Dostoievski) and film (Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal).