Existentialism is a philosophy that focuses thought and action on human existence and challenges all attempt to transcend it towards abstract entities that allegedly govern earthly life such as God or towards general concepts that purportedly explain human essence such as Reason. At its core lies one reverberating question: What is the meaning of life?
Existentialism is rooted in 19th Century thinking, but as a comprehensive stream of thought it emerged only in the 20th Century, following World War II, and has had a great cultural impact to this day. Indeed, existentialist thought has emerged and developed not only through philosophical thinking but also through works of prose and drama vividly and anxiously exploring the intricate workings of human existence.
In this seminar we will be reading excerpts from some of the key texts of existentialist thought, written by authors such as Soren Kierkegaard, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Friedrich Nietzsche, Virginia Woolf, Franz Kafka, Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Samuel Beckett. These works will allow us to examine the role of death within human life, what existential angst might feel like and what infinite resignation might mean, how we are to cope with the absurdity of life and what happens when one is waiting for Godot.
The existential research in this seminar will be conducted in multiple ways and using different methods, and its products will be delivered in a variety of formats.