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LPHI 2053 - Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: an Essay on Phenomenological Ontology

Sartre’s tome of existential phenomenology is an often referenced though gravely misunderstood classic of 20th century philosophy. As a result, today this work is read through the screen of his personal fame, the clichés of a few reputed lines, and in terms of scholarly reflection it has been deemed fit to leave this entry behind as passé fare fit only for the adolescent. The goal of our enterprise will be to strike against these tendencies by introducing students to this central work of human thought, taking its claims about the ontological make-up of reality and the conditions of lived-experience as a serious proposal worth analyzing. In the course of things, we will aim to push against readings of this work which depict Sartre as Cartesian, Dualist in nature, or as overtly intellectual/bourgeoise, by placing his book back into its history as a critical response to Heidegger, Husserl, the Kant-Hegelian tradition, French Philosophy, Freudian Psychoanalysis, Marxism, Fascism, the Catholic Church, the contemporary capitalistic world, and most importantly, the different types of pathological agency each of these produce.
Liberal Arts, Open to Non Majors
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Spring 2019
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