PHL314 Existentialism
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Office: MCC212A

Current Assignments
An overview of the course. We will think of our study within the following framework:
  • Pre-existentialism: Nietzsche, Dostoevsky
  • Method: Husserl's phenomenology and the Hermeneutic Circle
  • Existentialism:
    • Heidegger
    • Sartre
    • de Beauvoir
  • Post-existentialism: Camus

Tentative assignments (these will be revised)
9 December
Note: I would appreciate papers by 3:00 pm on this day, if possible. If not, please both email your paper to me, and drop a hard copy off at the office no later than 5:00 pm on Friday. My paper format guidelines are here.

Final exam, in our regular classroom, 8:00 a.m. -- 10:00 a.m.. Yes, you read that right. Well, I don't write the schedules.

You may bring B&T, The Plague, No Exit, The Flies, Untimely Meditations, a copy of "Existentialism is a Humanism," your copy of our selections from De Beauvoir, and if you like a copy of Being and Nothingness if you have one. Consider the following as worthy of study, along with the study questions from the midterm and any study questions concerning our readings:
  • What does Heidegger mean by "anxiety"? What does anxiety reveal?
  • What does Sartre say all existentialists have in common? That is, how does he define existentialism? Would you agree with his definition? Why or why not?
  • How does Sartre interpret and explain "anguish" (which is a common translation for angst and anxiety), "abandonment" and "despair" ?
  • What does Orestes mean in The Flies when he says there is another way? What is his epiphany?
  • Why don't the characters of No Exit leave the room?
  • What would Sartre recommend the subjects in Milgram's experiment do? How should they understand their situation?
  • What are Vladimir and Estragon waiting for, in Waiting for Godot? Should they keep waiting? What does it mean (that is, what does Beckett appear to mean to assert by showing) that they wait without any result? Would Sartre recommend we wait? Would Heidegger? Would Nietzsche? Would Camus?
  • Why does Paneloux decide he will not accept the care of a doctor? Why does the death of Jacques Othun cause him to commit to this? Contrast his view with Rieux's notion that the job of a doctor is to resist the order of creation.
  • What does Tarrou mean when he says (in part IV, before he actually gets the biological plague) that he too suffered from plague? What kind of plague?
  • Nietzsche took as one of his tasks opposition to nihilism. What is nihilism? How do Heidegger, Sartre, Beckett, and Camus variously respond to (the possibility of) nihilism?
  • What is existentialism? Of the philosophers and writers we've read, who is an existentialist, who is not, and why?
12 December
Frolic towards death with anxiety.