Existentialism & Phenomenology course

The start of the teaching year in Oz is just around the corner, and I’m excited to be teaching on phenomenology and existentialism. It’s a 2nd year class, so really just introducing this period and style of philosophy, themes, methods, and authors. Still, a chance to look at some great work. Interesting too to think about pedagogy and how to make difficult writing accessible and lively for pragmatic Australians.

Course outline thanks to my colleague J-P Deranty.

Week 1 Introduction
“There is only one serious philosophical problem”: authentic existence, the question at the root of all philosophical inquiries
Week 2 The Absurd – Camus’ challenge

Key text: Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, chapter 1.

Week 3-4 Boredom, Death and Care – Heidegger’s challenge

Key text: extracts from Heidegger, Being and Time, What is Metaphysics?

Week 5 The Power of Nothingness – Sartre’s Challenge

Key text: extract from Existentialism is a Humanism

Week 6

(only 1 lect)

The Authentic Body: Merleau-Ponty’s challenge

Key text: Merleau-Ponty, extracts from The Phenomenology of Perception

Week 7 The Authentic Self and the Other

Key texts: Heidegger, “The They” (from Being and Time); Sartre’s “being-for-other” (from Being and Nothingness and No Exit); Merleau-Ponty’s co-presence (from Pheno of Perception)

“What ought I to do”? Morality, Politics and Art as existential tasks
Week 8 Nature versus History – Camus’ response to the Absurd

Key texts: Camus, The Rebel, Nuptials at Tipasa, The Outsider (final page)

Week 9 De Beauvoir and Feminist Existentialism

Key texts: De Beauvoir, Ethics of Ambiguity, chapter 1; The Second Sex, Introduction

Week 10 Black Existentialism

Key texts: Sartre, Black Orpheus, Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks; Gordon, Existence in Black

Week 11 Arendt: Politics as Authentic Life

Key text: Arendt: Extracts from The Human Condition

Week 12 Existentialist Aesthetics

Key texts: Merleau-Ponty, extract from The Eye and the Mind; Sartre, What is Literature?; Heidegger, The Origin of the Work of Art.

Week 13 Wrap up, feedback, Essay preparation
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