PHL314 Existentialism
Our classroom is MCC223
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Office: MCC212A

Current Assignments
9 May
Office hours in my office MCC212A from 10am - 12pm.
11 May
Final exam in our classroom from 8:00 am - 10:00 am. I DON'T SET THE EXAM TIME. DON'T BLAME ME.

Final exam questions can include any past homework or exam question. Here are some additional study questions. For the exam you may use your books from class (the assigned books).
  • 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?
  • What is existentialism? Of the philosophers and writers we've read, who is an existentialist, who is not, and why?
13 May
Papers due in my office by 2:00 pm! 4-6 pages, 1 inch margins, double spaced. Some of the topics we discussed as potential paper topics:
  • Can you be a Marxist and an Existentialist?
  • 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? Pick a particular problem.
  • What, if any, are the similarities and differences between Sartre's Bad Faith and Heidegger's inauthenticity?
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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....)
  • Does Beavoir's ethics work? Consider some particular moral problems and whether we can handle them with her theory.
  • Is the idea of the Judge Penitent, as depicted in The Fall, a useful one? Is this a type of political actor that we should be aware of? Can you give examples of such behavior in our own time, or in Camus's time? Is it a problem? Was it a problem?

Tentative Assignments

Frolic in angst!