Phil 3140 Existentialism

Professor Janet Donohoe

Fall 2011


1.   Learning Outcomes:  The aim of this course is to examine critically the central arguments of existentialist philosophers through reading, writing about, and discussing primary philosophical texts.  By the end of the semester students will be able to:


·         Identify at least three major existentialist philosophers

·         Exhibit a familiarity with the basic philosophical positions of at least three philosophers.

·         Clearly explain and critically address a philosophical position in both written and oral form.

·         Exhibit a familiarity with existentialist vocabulary

·         Analyze philosophical position of major figures in existentialism

·         Recognize the difference between atheist and religious existentialism


2.  Requirements:  To achieve the above goals will require a new way of reading and thinking.  We will not just read the texts, but we will question and challenge them both through discussion and writing assignments.  Because this is a Writing Across the Curriculum course, the writing element will be substantial and will involve in-class writing as well as formal paper writing.  The requirements for the class are sixfold.


a)       class discussion and participation                                    10%

b)       response papers 600-900 words each                              20%

c)       in-class written midterm exam                                          20%

d)       paper rough draft                                                                10%

e)       final paper of 2100-3000 words                                       20%

f)        in-class written final exam                                                 20%


In order to meet these requirements, it will be necessary to attend class regularly and to do the assigned reading.  It will be evident if you have not done the reading and this will not be beneficial to your success in this class.  Papers absolutely will not be accepted after the due date unless you have discussed it with me prior to the due date.  If you do not submit a rough draft, you will not be allowed to submit a final paper.


The Department of English and Philosophy defines plagiarism as taking personal credit for the thinking of others as it is presented in electronic, print, and verbal sources.  The Department expects that students will accurately credit sources in all assignments.  Plagiarism is grounds for failing the course and may result in further consequences of being expelled from the University.


Laptop computers may not be used in the classroom unless requested by student development. 

Cell phones must be turned off in the classroom.


3.  Availability:  I am available outside of class during office hours, or by appointment.  If there are questions or problems, do not hesitate to see me.

                Hours:  MWF 9:00-10:00 am and 12:00-1:00 pm.

Office:  TLC 2230

Phone:  678-839-4743



4.  Book List:  The books listed below should be available in the book store.

Dostoevsky           Notes from Underground

Nietzsche               Beyond Good and Evil

Kierkegaard          Fear and Trembling

Camus                   The Plague

                Sartre                     Existentialism and Human Emotions


Selections from DeBeauvoir’s The Second Sex will be made available through Docutek.





22                           Introduction

24                           Themes of the course.  What is Existentialism?

26                           Class Cancelled

29                           Dostoevsky           Notes from Underground

31                           Notes from Underground


2                              Notes from Underground

5                              Labor Day—No Classes!

7                              Notes from Underground

9                              Notes from Underground

12                           Nietzsche               Beyond Good and Evil Part I

14                           Beyond Good and Evil Part I            (first response paper due)

16                           Beyond Good and Evil Part V

19                           Beyond Good and Evil Part V

21                           Beyond Good and Evil Part VII

23                           Beyond Good and Evil Part VII

26                           Beyond Good and Evil Part IX

28                           Sartre     “Existentialism is a Humanism”  (2nd response paper due)

30                           “Existentialism is a Humanism”     


3                              “Existentialism is a Humanism”

5                              “Existentialism is a Humanism”

7                              Midterm Exam

10                           DeBeauvoir          The Second Sex – Introduction

12                           The Second Sex – Introduction         (3rd response paper due)

14                           The Second Sex – The Data of Biology  (last day to withdraw with a W)

17                           The Second Sex – The Data of Biology

19                           The Second Sex – Situation and Character

21                           The Second Sex – Situation and Character

24                           The Second Sex – Conclusion

26                           Camus   The Plague Part I

28                           The Plague Part II through p. 110. (4th response paper due)

31                           The Plague Part II


2                              The Plague Part III

4                              The Plague Part IV

7                              The Plague Part IV

9                              The Plague Part V

11                           Kierkegaard          Fear and Trembling

14                           Fear and Trembling (rough draft of paper due)

16                           Fear and Trembling

18                           Fear and Trembling

21-25                     Thanksgiving Break

28                           Fear and Trembling (final paper due)          

30                           Fear and Trembling


2                              Review



Final Exam will be Friday, December 9, 2011 at 11:00 am.