PHL314 Existentialism
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Office: MCC212A

Current Assignments
8 December
Please read The Question Concerning Technology by Heidegger. There will be a short quiz (you will have 12 minutes) to ask you:
  1. How does Heidegger ultimately describe technology?
  2. What is “challenging forth”?
  3. What is “Bestand” or “standing reserve”?
  4. What is “Ge-stell” or “enframing”?
On this day, unfortunately, I cannot have my afternoon office hours. I have office hours Dec 7 and Dec 11 to make up for this.
13 December
Final exam in our classroom, MCC 231, 10:30-12:30. Questions can include any past homework or exam question. Here are some additional study questions.
  • 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" ?
  • Why don't the characters of No Exit leave the room?
  • 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?
  • What is the foundation of Simone De Beauvoir's ethic as developed in The Ethics of Ambiguity? Does she succeed in creating an existentialist ethics? Why or why not? What is ambiguity?
  • 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 Camus's early advice for how we should face the absurd? What is his later view? What is the absurd, anyways?
  • Consider Heidegger's "Question Concerning Technology." According to Heidegger: What is the essence of technology? What is challenging forth? What is enframing? What is Bestand (standing-reserve, inventory)? What is the possible saving grace that may exist within techne?
  • What is existentialism? Of the philosophers and writers we've read, who is an existentialist, who is not, and why?
15 December
Final papers due before 3:00 pm. These should be 5-6 pages long, on one of the following questions, or another you arrange with me. Use the "analytic philosophy paper format" guide. Here are some suggested topics. You may propose others.
  • Are Garcin, Inez, and Estelle acting in bad faith? Why? It is easy to find conventional moral failings for the three, but what existential failings do they have?
  • What are the benefits (what problems does it solve?) and what are the costs (what problems does it raise?) for Heidegger's notion of being-in-the-world as a solution to classical problems of epistemology?
  • What, if any, are the similarities and differences between Sartre's Bad Faith and Heidegger's Authenticity?
  • Sartre says that Heidegger is, like him, an atheist. Is this right? What reasons are there to think it is right?
  • How do the condition and the choices of the characters in No Exit exemplify choices and difficulties that Sartre describes in his existentialism?
  • Read Sartre's play, The Flies. How do the condition and the choices of the characters in The Flies exemplify choices and difficulties that Sartre describes in his existentialism? If you're writing about The Flies, I really believe you should take the time to read The Libation Bearers.
  • In The Flies, Orestes tells Zeus that it doesn't matter if Zeus created the universe. Would Sartre's existentialism remain the same if a god existed? Focus on one specific aspect of his existentialism -- for example, the idea that values are created by choice.
  • How do Heidegger and Sartre balance their notions of facticity with the claim that we are free?
  • What, if any, similarities are there between Beckett's work and existentialism? Where do they differ? (A good thing to consider is the notion of authenticity....)
  • What is the "absurd," in The Myth of Sisyphus? How should we understand the term if we are to make the clearest reconstruction of Camus's theory and claims?
  • Is the Camus of Man in Revolt [The Rebel] an existentialist?
  • Reconstruct an existentialist ethic from Simone de Beauvoir's The Ethics of Ambiguity. Consider a moral problem, like environmental ethics or refugees or climate change. How would we solve it using her theory?
  • Is Camus's argument against suicide in The Myth of Sisyphus sound? Is his argument against suicide in Man in Revolt sound?
Tentative Assignments
16 December
Frolic, with anxiety.