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PHI 126 — Existentialism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

Quarter: Summer
Instructor(s): Hyoung Sung Kim
Duration: 10 weeks
Format/Location: Live Online
Date(s): Jun 26—Aug 28
Class Recording Available: Yes
Class Meeting Day: Wednesdays
 
Class Meeting Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Tuition: $550
   
Refund Deadline: Jun 28
 
Unit(s): 2
   
Enrollment Limit: 40
  
Status: Open
 
Quarter: Summer
Day: Wednesdays
Duration: 10 weeks
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Date(s): Jun 26—Aug 28
Unit(s): 2
Format/Location: Live Online
 
Tuition: $550
 
Refund Deadline: Jun 28
 
Instructor(s): Hyoung Sung Kim
 
Enrollment Limit: 40
 
Recording Available: Yes
 
Status: Open
 
Existentialism as a philosophical movement emphasizes individual freedom, choice, and responsibility and asserts that existence is defined through personal actions rather than external factors. Examining historical existentialist luminaries such as Søren Kierkegaard and Jean-Paul Sartre, along with contemporary thinkers such as Christine Korsgaard and Judith Butler, allows us to explore how existentialist philosophy responds to modern life and evolving societal norms (e.g., identity in the digital age or freedom and responsibility in globalized societies). This course uses historical and contemporary lenses to demonstrate how existentialism serves as an enduring framework to address complex inquiries surrounding selfhood, agency, and the world.

Through dynamic discussions and readings, the course will chart the development of existentialist thought, aligning it with current societal dialogues about freedom, individual responsibility, social justice, and more. We will begin with an exploration of authenticity and identity through Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, and Camus. From there, we will transition to Du Bois's examination of identity and alienation and Arendt's emphasis on the intersection of individual existence and collective responsibility. We will round out our journey by examining contemporary perspectives such as Korsgaard's work on the sources of normativity and self-constitution and Butler’s theory of gender. You will leave the course with foundational insights into existentialist thought that bridge historical and contemporary perspectives, empowering you to engage thoughtfully with the interplay between philosophy and our ever-evolving world.

HYOUNG SUNG KIM
COLLEGE Lecturer, Civic, Liberal, and Global Education, Stanford

Hyoung Sung Kim’s research focuses on Kant and the German idealist tradition and how that tradition grappled with issues concerning nature, freedom, autonomy, and self. Kim received a PhD in philosophy from Stanford.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.