ONLINE SEMINAR
January 24 | The Existentialists

How do we live now? In the aftermath of WWII, this was the question that spurred a group of French philosophers/writers and artists to abandon traditional philosophy and seek a third way. What would result was a philosophy grounded in experience, an approach that rather than theorizing away the problems of the day — uncertainty, anxiety, ambiguity and absurdity — dared to take them up directly. What resulted was not just a new kind of philosophy but a new way of being in the world. Reading excerpts from major texts by these authors, we'll discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of existentialism for their day and in our own.

When: Six weekly sessions on Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, starting January 24, 2021

Duration: 2 hours per session

Cost: C$350 plus 13% HST (approx. US$270 plus 13% HST)

Group Size: 12-participant limit

How: We will be meeting on Zoom; you will receive joining instructions after registration. For your privacy, all our Zoom seminars are password-protected and are never recorded.

The seminar will be read-as-you-go. All online seminar payments are nonrefundable.

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Description

LEADER

Dr. Wendy O’Brien is a philosopher with over 30 years’ experience teaching in academic and non-academic environments, including Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Waterloo, Harvard, Oxford and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Her work explores subjects including power, violence, the relation to the Other, home, silence, and creativity. She is presently working on a long-term project on the concept of wonder. An active member of the Ontario literary scene, she has been an interviewer for organizations including By the Lake Book Club, the Toronto International Festival of Authors and GritLit, as well as hosting Bourbon and Books book club in both Toronto and Hamilton.

BOOKS

Selections from the following texts:

Søren Kierkegaard: “The Present Age”
Jean-Paul Sartre: “Existentialism Is a Humanism”
Simone de Beauvoir: The Second Sex
Albert Camus: “The Myth of Sisyphus”
Franz Fanon: Black Skin, White Masks

Wendy will provide web links and PDFs of the essays to be discussed; participants are welcome to obtain the entire works. More information will be provided to registrants in their welcome materials.

 We encourage you to support local bookstores or other independent sellers. In the US, try Bookshop.org. In Canada, try McNally Robinson or Indigo.

How do we live now? In the aftermath of World War II, this was the question that spurred a group of French philosophers, writers and artists to abandon traditional philosophy and seek a third way. What would result would be a philosophy grounded in experience that rather than theorizing away the problems of the day — uncertainty, anxiety, ambiguity, and absurdity — dared to take them up directly. What resulted was not just a new kind of philosophy but a new way of being in the world.

In this seminar we will delve into key concepts in the writings of the French existentialists. With Sartre we’ll explore the idea that “existence precedes essence.” Beauvoir will have us reflect on the implication of this basic tenet when it is applied in/to a world in which we are all connected. Fanon will challenge us to consider the social and political implications of these recognitions. And Camus — well, Camus will get us to consider the necessity for resilience. Reading excerpts from major texts by these authors, we’ll discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of existentialism for their day and in our own.

The seminar will be read-as-you-go. Participants will receive weekly questions and relevant resource material on Tuesdays of each week.

All online seminar payments are nonrefundable.

Image credit: Franz Stuck

Additional information

Choose registration type

Standard registration, Toronto Pursuits 2020 credit

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