Rel.

085/Phil 095: On the Meaning of Life
Summer 2011
Richard I. Sugarman (Richard.sugarma@uvm.edu, 656-4833) Meets: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. 5:00-7:30 PM. Where: Kalkin 110 Dates: May 23 – June 16 Course Description: This course explores the ways in which different thinkers, texts, and traditions have responded to the question concerning the meaning of life. Topics to be covered include the questions: What is human happiness? What makes a good life? What is meaningful work? What kinds of responsibility do I have for other people? How do various thinkers, both philosophic and religious, respond to the problem of human suffering? What is the relation of personal to social identity in an age of increasing complexity? We will read classic as well as modern and contemporary texts. In addition, we will use films to provide the basis for further reflection and discussion.

Books: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom I and Thou by M. Buber Notes from the Underground by F. Dostoevsky Man’s Search for Meaning by V. Frankl Existentialism: (Nietzsche and Kierkegaard) Basic Writings by Guignon and Pereboom Will to Believe by W. James Being There by Kosinski The Death of Ivan Ilyich by L. Tolstoy Siddartha by H. Hesse Week 1(Week of May 23) Readings Due: Tuesdays with Morrie and The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Siddartha We will discuss the ways in which Ivan Ilyich and Morrie approach death and therefore life differently. How does Siddartha help us better understand Morrie’s philosophy of life? No class Monday, May 30 - Memorial Day Week 2 (Week of May 31) Readings Due: Notes from Underground and Existentialism: Basic Writings by Nietzsche and Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling and Sickness unto Death. In what way does the man from the underground provide a contrasting lifestyle from that of Ivan Ilyich? Why, according to Nietzsche, is the search for meaning

the central problem of our time? What is the relation of ethics to religion, according to Kierkegaard? *FIRST JOURNAL DUE

Week 3 (Week of June 6) Reading Due: Will to Believe; Is Life Worth Living? and Man’s Search for Meaning and Buber’s I and Thou Part I. According to James and to Frankl, how are belief and meaning a matter of choice and struggle? *FIRST PAPER DUE JUNE 6. Week 4 (Monday June 13 and Thursday June 16) Reading Due: Buber’s I and Thou Part II and Being There How do Kierkegaard and Buber present contrasting views of the human condition? How does Buber’s I-Thou philosophy attempt to rediscover the human person before he or she is transformed into an object? FINAL PAPER DUE LAST CLASS, JUNE 16TH, ALONG WITH FINAL JOURNAL.

**READING ASSIGNMENTS MAY VARY DEPENDING UPON THE PROGRESS OF THE CLASS**

Assignments: Keep notebook, journal, 25% First Paper 25% Second Paper 25% Attendance and Class Participation: 25% Regarding notebooks: Journals should be approximately one-half a page per class including your questions on and reflections about reading material and class discussions. In other words, this amounts to a page and a half to two pages per week. These should be kept in a separate notebook, and the entries should be dated. You are encouraged to use the material from the journals to help shape your papers. In this way, you will already be on the way to writing them. As far as class participation goes, recognize that some students are more able to participate in class than others. If you wish, you may satisfy this requirement by handing in a question prior to the time of class meeting that you would like to have discussed or responded to. **YOU MAY WRITE ONE LONGER PAPER FOR THE ENTIRE CLASS INSTEAD OF WRITING TWO SEPARATE PAPERS.**

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