PHI 310: Existentialism


This course provides students with an introduction to basic thoughts of existentialism. The concept of existentialism is here understood in a broad sense – as a designation for loosely connected 19th and 20th century thinkers concentrated especially on understanding individual human existence (as opposed to philosophers focusing on description of supposedly universal laws) and the most fundamental choices that humans have to make. Diverse philosophical perspectives will be discussed in the course. A few topics are nevertheless going to be addressed repeatedly – not only individual existence (and its relation to other people, society, or nature), but also limits of reason or understanding (in both motivating humans and understanding human life or the world as such), relation between philosophy and literature, and the question of authenticity (as the key value for many existentialist thinkers). In some cases we are to discuss connections between existentially oriented literature (Kafka), philosophy (Patočka – a phenomenologist deeply influenced by Heidegger) or political thought (Havel) to the history of Prague and Czech state as a whole.

Philosophy of Existentialism, including such thinkers as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Doestoevsky, Sartre, Heidegger, and Camus.