International Summer School

Philosophy

Session 2

Existentialism
Module Code: IS194
Level: 5 
2017 Syllabus [PDF]
Is (human) existence necessarily finite? What does it mean to claim that existence precedes essence? Is existentialism best thought of as a version of humanism? These are just some of the fascinating questions posed in this module.
Although philosophers who are commonly associated with ‘existentialism’ would have neither accepted nor recognised the term, it is a useful way of grouping influential thinkers and themes.
The course critically engages with thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Kafka, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Sartre. It will examine themes such as human freedom, the relation between faith and reason, and we will consider the absurd. It traces the development of existential ideas in philosophical, religious, poetic and fictional works, asking why this movement seems to have led to such a rich intermingling of philosophy and literature. It concludes by considering some of the political and ethical consequences of existentialism.