Module Outline (updated 09.05.18)

This is an intensive final year module running over five weeks during the summer term. Its aim is to build on earlier exposure to Phenomenology and Existentialism in an effort to deepen the student's understanding of those research traditions. For summer 2019, the module will be based on a real-life philosophy research project, The Ethics of Powerlessness: The Theological Virtues Today (EoP). Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, EoP was hosted Essex philosophy, 2015-18. Its principal aim was to draw on the resources of the phenomenological tradition to explore the lived experience of powerlessness as the basis for a re-consideration of how we can live well with such experiences. As well as studying classic texts in the existential-phenomenological tradition, students will be introduced to the research methods deployed in the project, its pathways to impact, and will read the green papers produced. We will trace EoP’s approach to the phenomenology of powerlessness and the project’s leading idea of ‘the power to be oneself’ to their sources both in empirical research and in the philosophical works of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, Kierkegaard and Heidegger. We will also consider EoP’s approach to the idea of the theological virtues, conceived as existential virtues of powerlessness. Topics covered will include care at the end-of-life, addiction and moral distress.

By the end of the module students should be able to:

1. explain some of the major preoccupations and approaches of Existentialism and/or Phenomenology;
2. analyse critically the debates surrounding them.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the module, students should also have acquired a set of transferable skills, and in particular be able to:

1. define the task in which they are engaged and exclude what is irrelevant;
2. seek and organise the most relevant discussions and sources of information;
3. process a large volume of diverse and sometimes conflicting arguments;
4. compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the limitations of their own position or procedure;
5. write and present verbally a succinct and precise account of positions, arguments, and their presuppositions and implications;
6. be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them;
7. think 'laterally' and creatively - see interesting connections and possibilities and present these clearly rather than as vague hunches;
8. maintain intellectual flexibility and revise their own position if shown wrong;
9. Think critically and constructively.