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PHL 102Y, Notes Week 1 (Jan 26, 28)

by: Elizabeth Anderson

PHL 102Y, Notes Week 1 (Jan 26, 28) PHL 102Y - 01

Marketplace > University of Montana > PHIL-Philosophy > PHL 102Y - 01 > PHL 102Y Notes Week 1 Jan 26 28
Elizabeth Anderson
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These notes cover everything in the first week of lectures, organized in Harvard format and highlighted based on significance. In a fast-paced, long lecture class covering complex material like th...
Intro to Existentialism
David Sherman
Class Notes
philosophy, phl, existentialism, david sherman, sherman, UMT, UM, notes, Humanities
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This 8 page Class Notes was uploaded by Elizabeth Anderson on Monday February 8, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHL 102Y - 01 at University of Montana taught by David Sherman in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 29 views. For similar materials see Intro to Existentialism in PHIL-Philosophy at University of Montana.

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Date Created: 02/08/16
PHL 102Y - David Sherman - Spring 2016 Week 1: Jan 26, Jan 28 key terms key concepts key figures/works I. The Paradox of Existentialism I. Existentialism = reaction to rationalism … and yet it is born from rationalist philosophical tradition. A. Although existentialism is an outgrowth of the Enlightenment (rather than a rejection of it)… a) Problematized Enlightenment (1) In a way, existentialism played Devil’s Advocate to Enlightenment b) “Cuts down to size” ideas of Enlightenment (1) Enlightenment = reaction to the conflict created by Protestantism. (2) As a reaction to this conflict, its ideas were somewhat blown out of .noi tporp (3) Existentialism = reducing these ideas to their core potential. II. Protestantism A. Protestantism = symbolizes rise of reason in the church 1. Emphasis on direct contact w/ maker/God rather than “mediated relationship” through pope 2. Idea that everyone can individually realize God’s purpose for them A. Protestantism —> emphasizes individual —> gives rise to humanism (secular humanism) —> leads to conception of existentialism . Existentialists are more or less / about equal humanists. PHL 102Y - David Sherman - Spring 2016 III. Faith vs. Reason I. ~17-1800s: Tipping point emerges during Enlightenment A. Pre-Tipping Point: With a world so under the control of religion, faith often wins out against hard science… 1. Pre-Tipping Point: “ When faith, or church doctrine, pitted against reason, or science, so much the worse for science .” a) example: Galileo; geocentrism (1) Galileo proposes Earth not center of solar system —> church tells him he’s wrong/he needs to be quiet —> Galileo hushes up, “rethinks” theories. B. Post-Tipping Point: Christian apologetics — defending Christian phenomena in the court of science/reason; tables have turned, and now in some arenas religion is science’s bitch. 1. At the heart of religion = not defending the unexplainable a) At very heart of Christianity & many other religions = “we don’t have an answer for ____, and that’s the beauty of it—that’s the grace of God” (1) example: Zeus and lightening 2. By contrast: Secular humanism = belief that our very existence should be grounded in reason. 3. As science crowds out religion (post-Tipping Point) and faith “falls out of the story”… (1) Faith begins defending itself in the court of reason. (2) = Christian apologetics. (a)(attempt to give reasoning for unexplainable events, esp. in religious history) i) example: Moses was able to part the Red Sea because __. (“The climate was just so, and this coincidence provided ______,” etc.) 4. Where religion was long the “explanatory tool,” now being replaced by reason and science. C. As religion fades, replaced by secular humanism. PHL 102Y - David Sherman - Spring 2016 D. However, secular humanism soon to be replaced by pure science. ( Fathers and Sons, Turgenev ; fathers repres. secular humanism… startlingly replaced/succeeded by sons, who repres. science.) 1. This is problematic: a) Science inherently lacks humanity, ethics. b) Here we have a descent (or ascent, depending on how you look at it) from: Faith (100% lofty values, ethics, human rules, etc.) to Secular humanism (Values and ethics bound by reason) to Science (Pure reason. No inherent “humanity.”) 2. Paves the way for Nihilism . IV. Nihilism A. Nihilism = Belief in NOTHING & NOTHINGNESS 1. All lofty claims made about world/existence, all values/ethics placed upon society = simply emoting . (zero grounding in reason) a) example: Even the best music is simply an opinion. b) “Values are optional”. (1)Nothing objective about values. B. Whereas secular humanism = grounding rich human values in reason… C. Nihilism = none of this can hold up to empirical science . D. When you move to pure science, everything is grounded in NOTHING . PHL 102Y - David Sherman - Spring 2016 V. Nietzsche A. Atheist. Waged war on religion. B. Thus, often seen as nihilist… 1. BUT widely misunderstood— not a nihilist 2. Did not put stock in nothingness—rather, believed science had evacuated not only religion but the very values that make us human — made them optional. 3. Entire philosophical career dedicated against nihilism and more or less for restoration of human values. a) Nietzsche: “w/ nihilism, humanity is set afloat .” C. Nietzsche: we must reground values. 1. “The highest values devalue themselves.” 2. Capitalist society is not ideally grounded… a) Unhappy b) Unable to reground selves in life-affirming ways c) Americans prize individuality, but lack the self-reflection that arguably makes us individual. PHL 102Y - David Sherman - Spring 2016 VI. Reason? cont’d A. David Hume: ultimately a skeptic 1. Reason itself is only good instrumentally . 2. “Reason is, and ought to be, the slave of the passions. ” B. Lack of reflection = modern American society (“let’s get down to business”) 1. Reflection = stopping and asking what life you’re living . a) Living TO something. b) Steward of your own life c) = 1st person perspective C. There is no objective grounding to “living TO something” (life having meaning at all)… D. Here is where existentialism begins. E. i.e., given all these large totalities, given everything not mattering… where do you begin? PHL 102Y - David Sherman - Spring 2016 VII. The Stranger I. Post-Structuralism/Post-Modernism problemetize reason , post- Existentialist movement. II. Existentialism arose as being concerned with the limitations of the Enlightenment. III.The Stranger: part 1 = 100% lived experience (“minimalistic observations”); part 2 = 100% reflection . A. Some philosophers: “Reflection is the death of experience.” Think of Meursault, pt. 1. 1. example: Imagine having sex from a third person point of view. a) Aside from being extremely awkward, would be an entirely deflating experience. (1) …(because it would be more reflection than experience) (2) Pure reflection deflates lived experience. b) Does not suggest reflection is problematic—is perhaps necessary for a vibrant lived experience (attaching meaning to experience through reflection)… (1) (World is meaningless until we reflect upon it. (Think of Meursault in pt. 1.)) (2) Think: animals, to our knowledge, live entirely 1st person experience. B. Meursault (pt. 1) is an entirely trustworthy character… 1. Has no ulterior motive, thus no lies 2. Like a camera. 3. No reflection— cannot reflect, thus distort, experience in a humanly untrustworthy manner. Camus: “Meursault is a hero of the truth because he refuses to play the 4. game.” a) NO b) Bad reading of Meursault… c) Meursault (pt. 1) is nothing more than a chess piece of inertia . PHL 102Y - David Sherman - Spring 2016 IV. Is Meursault’s refusal to rise to reflection (pt. 1) due to inability or a choice not to? A. Up for debate… 1. Choice, probably, because it was his choice to end studies (pre-canon), thus end reflection. 2. Physical needs often overwhelm reflection. V. Is there reflection in Meursault (pt. 1)? Only moments of such; out of the ordinary. A. 1. i.e., you could say he is being reflective when he says he “feels judged” at the vigil, etc., … But this is the closest moment he gets to clarity, reflection. a) He is being judged, harshly. But the closest he can get to reflection here is a fleeting, vague notion that he feels he might be. (1) (Contrast with overwhelming attention he gives robot woman and man in courtroom in pt. 2, concern re: being judged. Is beginning to achieve reflection in pt. 2.) B. Metaphor: Mirror in apartment. 1. What does Meursault see when he looks in the mirror (pt. 1)? Not himself , just furnishings behind him. 2. Unreflective. Pt. 2 = pushed out of unreflection by phenomenon of judgment. C. Telling signM : eursault’s Sunday. 1. Sunday is universally the day of rest (i.e., aloneness, no “let’s get down to business,” lots of time and space for reflection) 2. Meursault allegedly loves sun, surf, so Sunday should be favourite day of the week. a) However, he hates it. 3. Escapes incoming opportunity for reflection on Sundays by spending the entire day literally “looking out,” not inwards . D. The Stranger = Meursault becoming (or re-becoming) a self 1. Bible: Adam does not become a self (human) until he bites the apple & becomes self-aware, self-conscious 2. Self is created to hold someone responsible. PHL 102Y - David Sherman - Spring 2016 a) Think of a lion killing its prey. The lion did not “murder” its prey, persay, because it has no self/self-consciousness. b) Comes down to reflective capacity 3. The Stranger = Meursault held responsible, arguably forced to develop a self because of this. a) “I looked into this man’s soul and I saw nothing human” (1) Meursault falls short—sorely lacking in the salf that humans have Scene where Arab is killed: pure atomized description— The “I” wasn’t 4. there when the Arab was killed. 5. The Stranger (pt. 2) = judging = about how humans develop a self through recognition of a particular kind of guilt (not about legality, etc.) a) Original sin ; undependent upon moral or legal guilt b) Think of the lion again—it does not have guilt inherent in existence, nor guilt for killing the zebra. c) Original sin: We are all guilty just based on our existence/more importantly, ability for reflection. E. The Meaning of Life! 1. There is no meaning in life. a) There are only meanings in life (that you find) All meanings equal. b) 2. Religion: “meaning = in the next life” a) Yet, only from within this life can we even talk about the meaning of this life being the next life. b) Rejects external perspective.


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