Philosophy 360

PHIL 360: Existential Philosophy

Prerequisite: Three hours of philosophy

Credit Hours: (3)

This course is a detailed study of the origins and historical development of the 20th century movement in philosophy called existentialism. Through a careful reading of both literary and philosophical texts, students explore such fundamental existential themes and issues as freedom, responsibility, anguish, alienation, authenticity, and death. Special emphasis is given to major thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Sartre.


Detailed Description of the Content of the Course

The course is to offer a clear grasp of the main issues and approaches characteristic of Existentialism in its broadest sense. Emphasis will be on basic philosophical issues, and as these themes are discussed, some of the major writer's works will be studied. This course provides the student with opportunity to grasp the philosophical infrastructure of existentialism so that he/she should be able to interpret the various extra-philosophical repercussions.

Texts may include the following:

  • Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre, Kaufmann
  • The Fall, by Albert Camus
  • Beyond Good and Evil, by Friedrich Nietzsche
  • On the Genealogy of Morals, by Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Ecce Homo, by Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Nausea, by Jean Paul Sartre
  • Existentialism, ed. by Robert Solomon
  • The Stranger, by Albert Camus


Detailed Description of the Conduct of the Course

The class will involve discussion, term papers, and informal lectures. It is essential that students read each assignment carefully and that they contribute to class discussions. Informal writing may be used as a tool to compose responses to questions posed in the material and to create an ongoing "existential dairy."


Goals and Objectives of the Course

Students should:

1. Gain some understanding of the movement called "existentialism"--one of the most controversial and influential developments in twentieth century thought.
2. Become familiar with the major texts and major thinkers in existential philosophy.
3. Understand that existentialism is more of an attitude or orientation toward the world than a "school of thought" and why it is nearly impossible to reduce the study to a set of doctrines.


Assessment Measures

The grade will be based on the quality and frequency of the student's oral participation and on the quality of written work throughout the semester. The final grade will be based on some combination of the following:

(a) Participation
(b) Written assignments
(c) Existential dairy
(d) Oral Presentation
(e) Term paper


Other Course Information

This course will count as a department elective for Philosophy and Religious Studies majors.


Approval and Subsequent Reviews


July 1991 Revision of procedures Charles D. Taylor, Chair
May 1994 None Kim J. Kipling, Chair
May 1995 Catalog entry revised. Kim J. Kipling, Chair
January 27, 1997 Course number change Approved by VPAA
April 17, 1998 Reviewed Kim Kipling
September 18, 2001 Reviewed Kim Kipling