Phil 7 Existentialism in Literature and Film - Spring 2012

Lecture series
from archive.org

In the traditional Judeo/Christian understanding, God is the ground of all meaning. At the end of the Medieval World, Descartes and Kant attempt to promote Man as an autonomous ground, taking the traditional place of God. The promotion of man undermines the authority of God, but as an autonomous ground Man turns out to be existentially insufficient. The dual failure of God and Man as ground, leaves us with the threat of nihilism. The course asks: Can we preserve the existential insight common to both traditions that life needs some kind of ground, without finding such a ground in a Supreme Being or in autonomous Man?
The answer depends upon whether one can uncover an authority other than us that, although not a Supreme Being, nevertheless serves as a ground. The course will be devoted to a series of philosophical-religious thinkers who describe just such a possibility. Pascal speaks of God as essentially hidden and makes a virtue of his hiddenness. Kierkegaard holds that after the God-man appears in the world we no longer have, nor do we need, access to God the Father. Nietzsche embraces as liberating the sheer absence of any ground. In opposition, Dostoyevsky attempts to show how one can live a meaningful life that preserves the authority of our Judeo-Christian practices without recourse to a monotheistic metaphysics.
Required Reading: Dostoevsky, Brothers Karamazov (Dover) Kierkegaard, Fear & Trembling (Penguin) Nietzsche, The Gay Science (Vintage) Twilight of the Idols (Penguin)
Recommended: Duras, M., Hiroshima Mon Amour (Grove Press) Dudley, A., (ed.), Breathless (Rutgers U. Press)

  1. Lecture 01: Introduction: What is Existentialism? (19Mb)
  2. Lecture 02: Pascal, Pensees (Excerpts) (16.3Mb)
  3. Lecture 03: Pascal, Pensees (Excerpts) (18.5Mb)
  4. Lecture 04: Kierkegaard, Fear & Trembling - Preamble from Heart (17.8Mb)
  5. Lecture 05: Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling - Preamble from Heart (16.9Mb)
  6. Lecture 06: Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling - Preamble from Heart (17.2Mb)
  7. Lecture 07: Discussion of film: Hiroshima Mon Amour (18Mb)
  8. Lecture 08: Fear & Trembling, Problema I (18.5Mb)
  9. Lecture 09: Fear and Trembling, Problema II (17.6Mb)
  10. Lecture 10: Discussion of the film: The Third Man (17.4Mb)
  11. Lecture 11: Kierkegaard, Sickness Unto Death (Self excerpts) (17.9Mb)
  12. Lecture 12: Kierkegaard, Sickness Unto Death (Self excerpts) (18Mb)
  13. Lecture 13: Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols (excerpts) (16.8Mb)
  14. Lecture 14: Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols (excerpts) (17.8Mb)
  15. Lecture 15: Nietzsche, The Gay Science (excerpts) (17.9Mb)
  16. Lecture 16: Nietzsche, The Gay Science (excerpts) (16.7Mb)
  17. Lecture 17: Nietzsche, The Gay Science (excerpts) (17.4Mb)
  18. Lecture 18: Nietzsche, The Gay Science (excerpts) (18Mb)
  19. Lecture 19: Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ (excerpts) (18.4Mb)
  20. Lecture 20: Disussion of Godard's Breathless (18.3Mb)
  21. Lecture 21: Dostoyevsky, Brothers Karamazov, Part I (18.3Mb)
  22. Lecture 22: Brothers Karamazov, Part I (18.1Mb)
  23. Lecture 23: Brothers Karamazov, Part II (19.4Mb)
  24. Lecture 24: Brothers Karamazov, Part II (18Mb)
  25. Lecture 25: Brothers Karamazov, Part III (18.4Mb)
  26. Lecture 26: Brothers Karamazov Part III (18.4Mb)
  27. Lecture 27: Brothers Karamazov, Part IV (17.9Mb)
  28. Lecture 28: Brothers Karamazov, Part IV (12.9Mb)

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