12 weeks, Thursdays, 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.
Where does meaning come from? Do we make it for ourselves, and if so, how? According to existentialism, “existence precedes essence”: First we come to be, then we (must) define the meaning of our being. What is the freedom to make meaning worth if we don’t have the option of refusing it? How can radically free beings act responsibly? If freedom is the definitive quality of being human, what then of aspects of our lives over which we have little or no control, such as love, death, suffering, ignorance, passion? Sarah Bakewell asserts that existentialism strongly informs our current views on such questions, which is why, “when reading Sartre on freedom, de Beauvoir on oppression, Kierkegaard on anxiety, Camus on rebellion, Heidegger on technology, or Merleau-Ponty on cognitive science one feels one is reading the latest news.” We will read Bakewell’s highly accessible At the Existentialist Café as a way of entering into these and related questions concerning freedom, suffering, and meaning