Philosophy | Introduction to Existentialism
P135 | 3187 | Spade


Topic: Kierkegaard and Sartre

This class will introduce students to some of the main themes and figures in the existential tradition of philosophy.  We will focus on two people, Soren Kierkegaard and Jean-Paul Sartre, and their views on topics such as: human responsibility and choice,
the nature of belief in God and the effect it has on people, interpersonal relations, self-deception and human emotions.  We shall find that, although Kierkegaard was a dedicated Christina whereas Sartre was a confirmed atheist, in many respects their vi
ews are quite similar.

Class will meet in lecture format twice a week, plus a required discussion section on Fridays.  There will be regularly scheduled short quizzes throughout the semester, to make sure you are getting the terminology and basic concepts.  In addition, I will
ask you to write two essay=type examinations and two papers.

Required Textbooks:

(1) Robert Bretall, A Kierkegaard Anthology (Princeton).  From this we will be reading:
The Rotation Method. A hilarious essay on how to avoid boredom (from Either/Or).
Diary of a Seducer. Just what it says (also from Either/Or.)
Passages from Concluding Unscientific Postscript.
(2) Soren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling (Penguin).  A powerful meditation on the Biblical story of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac.
(3) Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism and Human Emotions (Carol).  We will be reading "The Humanism of Existentialism" and other passages.
(4) Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea.  The weirdest novel of all times!