Philosophy 234 — Existentialism                              10:00-11:00 MWF,  MI  108

D. Vessey                   363-2146 (Office)                               Office Hours:   MI  210                                                                MW   2:00-3:00

                                                                                                Th       1:00-3:00

                                                                                                and by appointment  


Required Texts:          

            Steven Luper, Existing

            Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals

            Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex  

            Ralph Waldo Emerson, Selected Essays

            Additional photocopied readings from Fyodor Dostoeveski, SŅren             Kierkegaard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Simone   Weil.




This is a writing intensive course. 


1. There are 11 assigned Discussion Papers (due more or less every Monday discussion session).  These papers are to be 2 pages typed, Times/New Roman (unless otherwise noted).  All typo grading policies apply (lose one grade for every four typos; a typo includes a spelling or grammatical errors, inappropriate use of gendered pronouns, and/or failure to properly cite quotations).   These papers will be graded A, B, C, F and the bottom three grades will be ignored.  Effectively, then, you can skip three of these discussion papers.   Since they are purely for the sake of facilitating discussion, there is no point in turning them in after the discussion.


2. These are three “long” papers, 5-7 pages typed, on a topic of your choice (see the suggested list below).  You will pick one topic at the beginning of the semester and write all three papers on the topic.  The first paper will be an exposition (plus two or three critical queries) of a 19th century figure (Kierkegaard, Emerson, or Nietzsche) on your topic.  The second will be an exposition (plus two or three critical queries) of a 20th century figure (Heidegger, Sartre, deBeauvoir, Camus, or others) on your topic. The first two long papers are due on a Friday, though they will be accepted until the next Monday without penalty.  They will not be accepted after Monday.  Everyone will read, comment on and grade anonymously five other papers (author’s aalso anonymous) and these responses/grades are due in class on the following Friday.  The grades, papers and comments will be discussed in class. The grade on the paper will be a combination of the students’ grades and my grade.  The third paper will combine the first two into a comparison/contrast paper in which you analyze the differences, strengths and weakness of each philosopher’s view and then develop your own critical alternative.  It will include rewrites of the first two papers based on earlier feedback and the context of the longer paper.  Since this third paper combines the work of the other two papers (with their revisions) it will be 15-17 pages long and will be due at the time of the final exam.


There will be no exams. 


Grade Breakdown:


Long Papers: 55%                                           Participation: 45%

Paper 1: 15%                                                  Discussion Papers: 25%

Paper 2: 15%                                                  Attendance & Participation: 20%

Paper 3: 25%


1. Tue, Jan. 16                        Introductions


2. Wed, Jan. 17                       DostoeveskiNotes from the Underground

                                                            Reading: Luper pp. 411-422 


3. Fri, Jan. 19                          Dostoeveski — The Grand Inquisitor

                                                            Reading: Luper pp. 422-430 & Handout

                                                            Paper #1 Due (Mandatory)




4. Mon, Jan. 22                       Discussion Dostoeveski — Father Zossema

                                                            Reading: Grand Inquisitor Handout


MOVIE                                  “The Seventh Seal”


5. Wed, Jan. 24                       Kierkegaard — The Question of Abraham

                                                            Reading: Luper , pp. 30-52


6. Fri, Jan. 26                          Kierkegaard — Teleological Suspension of the                                                                               Ethical

                                                            Reading: Luper pp. 52-63




7. Mon, Jan. 29                       Discussion Kierkegaard — Against the System

                                                            Reading: Luper pp. 63-80

                                                            Paper #2 Due


8. Wed, Jan. 31                       Kierkegaard — Truth and Despair

                                                            Reading: Luper  pp. 81-101


9. Fri, Feb. 2                           Emerson —Circles

                                                            Reading: “Circles” (Handout)




10. Mon, Feb. 5                      Discussion Emerson — Self-Reliance

                                                            Reading:  “Self-Reliance”

                                                            Paper  #3 Due


MOVIE                                   “My Dinner with Andre”


11. Wed, Feb. 7                       Emerson — Experience

                                                            Reading: “Experience”


12. Fri, Feb. 9                         Nietzsche — Joyful Wisdom

                                                            Reading: Luper pp. 124-137              




13. Mon, Feb. 12                    Discussion Nietzsche — Beyond Good and Evil

                                                            Reading: Luper   pp. 161-177;                                                                                                Preface, GM, pp. 15-23

                                                            Paper #4 Due


14. Wed, Feb. 14                     Nietzsche Genealogy of Morals

                                                            Reading: GM, First Essay, pp. 24-44


15. Fri, Feb. 16                       NietzscheGenealogy of Morals

                                                            Reading: GM, First Essay, pp. 44-60




16. Mon, Feb. 19                    Discussion NietzscheGenealogy of Morals

                                                            Reading: GM , Second Essay, pp. 57-76

                                                            Paper #5 Due


MOVIE                                   “Unbearable Lightness of Being”


17. Wed, Feb. 21                     NietzscheGenealogy of Morals

                                                            Reading: GM, Second Essay, pp. 76-96


18. Fri, Feb. 23                       Phenomenology — Introduction to Husserl           

                                                            Long Paper #1 Due

19. Mon, Feb. 26                    Phenomenology  — Introduction to Heidegger


20. Wed, Feb. 28                     Heidegger— from Being and Time

                                                            Reading: Luper,  pp. 227-234


21. Fri, Mar. 2                        Discussion First Papers

                                                            Paper Responses/Grades Due






22. Mon, Mar. 12                   Discussion Sartre — Existentialism

                                                            Reading: Existentialism and Humanism,

                                                                        Luper, pp. 264-276

                                                            Paper #6 Due


23. Wed, Mar. 14                    Sartre — Negation

                                                            Reading: Luper, pp. 276-291


24. Fri, Mar. 16                      Sartre — Bad Faith

                                                            Reading: Luper, pp. 291-300




25. Mon, Mar. 19                   Discussion Sartre — Relations to Others

                                                            Reading: Luper, 302-319                                                                                                        Paper #7 Due


MOVIE                                   “Persona”


26. Wed, Mar. 21                    Sartre — No Exit

                                                            Reading: Nausea


27. Fri, Mar. 23                      Sartre    No Exit

                                                            Reading: No Exit




28. Mon, Mar. 26                   Discussion  Sartre— Late Ethics                                                                                                      Reading: Handout

                                                            Paper #8 Due


29. Wed, Mar. 28                    de Beauvoir — Introduction

                                                            Reading: Second Sex , Introduction

                                                                        pp. xix-xxxvi

30. Fri, Mar. 30                      de Beauvoir — Biology/Psychoanalysis/Marxism

                                                            Reading: Second Sex ,  Chapter I; pp. 49-52; 57-60




31. Mon, Apr. 2                     Discussion de Beauvoir — The Myth of Women

                                                            Reading: Second Sex, Chapter IX

                                                            Paper #9 Due 


MOVIE                                   “Wild Strawberries”


32. Wed, Apr. 4                      de Beauvoir — Situation & Character

                                                            Reading: Second Sex, Chapter XXI


33. Fri., Apr. 6                        de Beauvoir — The Solution

                                                            Reading: Second Sex, Chapter XXV,                                                                                      “Conclusion”




34.  Mon, Apr. 8                    Discussion Miguel de Unamuno—The Inquisitor Redux

                                                            Reading: “Saint Emmanuel the Good, Martyr”

                                                            Paper #10 Due


35.  Wed, Apr. 11                   deBeauvoir Ethics of Ambiguity      

                                                            Reading: Handout


36.  Fri, Apr. 13                      Martin Buber —from I and Thou

                                                            Reading: Luper pp. 397-399 & Handout

                                                Long Paper #2 Due




37. Mon, Apr. 16                   Simone Weil—Mystical Existential Theology

                                                            Reading: Handout


MOVIE                                   TBA


Wed, Apr. 18                          Spring Day (No Class)


38. Fri, Apr. 20                       Discussion Paper #2

                                                Paper Responses/Grades Due


39. Mon, Apr. 23                   Paul Tillich —Christian Existential Theology

                                                            Reading:  Luper pp. 399-407

                                                Paper #11 Due


40. Wed, Apr. 25                    Camus—The Myth of Sisyphus

                                                            Reading: Luper 389-397


41. Fri, Apr. 27                       Paper Revision Workshop




42. Mon, Apr. 30                   Paper Revision Workshop


43. Wed, May 2                      Conclusions, Reflections and Evaluations



Paper #3 Due:  Final Exam Time




Recommended Paper Topics:


Art                                                      Health

Beauty                                    Hegel

Childhood                                           History

Christianity                                         Human Nature

Communication                                   Individual

Creativity                                            Knowledge

Death                                                  Language

Education                                            Marriage

Emotions                                             Marx

Evil                                                      Moral Laws

Faith                                                    Nature (trees, et. al)

Fate                                                     Poetry

Fear/Dread/Angst                                Politics

Freedom                                              Science

God                                                     Socrates

Truth                                                   Women