About this course
In this course, we look for answers to seemingly unsolvable queries: Why breathe? Why breed? Why bleed? What justifies continuing, creating, and killing lives? Seeking answers to these thorny questions, Princeton University and Tel Aviv University have joined hands to create a unique online course that delves into the depths of the human condition and its politics.
Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism (HOPE) is a journey into the human condition and its politics, turning to existentialism for guidance. The course explores, on both individual and political levels, the following themes: Human / nature, identity & authenticity, freedom, reflection, happiness, death & dread, meaning, morality & ethics, truth & trust, God & religion, alienation & love, and finally—hope.”
Most philosophers ask “what is the good life?” and answer "to feel good, or to be good, or to do good." Existentialism asks “what is life good for?” and traces the answers that people, in their lived experience, give—to foster our own.
HOPE is a richly interdisciplinary course anchored in political science and philosophy. It also draws on history, sociology, psychology, and economy—synthesizing theoretical insights with empirical findings, both vintage and novel. HOPE shows that science and art can create a wonderful synergy when studying—indeed foregrounding—our humanity.
HOPE employs novel technologies in ways that enhance—not drain—our humanity and our ability to turn from “power politics” to “purpose politics,” cultivating creative, courageous, civil choices—the gist of existential politics.
In HOPE, you will find:
- Animated talks, interviews and student discussions
- Exploration of key concepts and figures—thinkers, artists, and politicians—both ancient and modern
- A host of fascinating questions to probe alone, and together, with friends and in class
- Myriad multimedia features, including various forms of art (painting, prose and poetry, cinema, tv, and music)
- An invitation to choose between several edifying projects, including a personal journal and a collective newspaper
HOPE has been created in collaboration with Tel Aviv University.
What you'll learn
- The tenets, thinkers, and concepts of existentialism
- What distinguishes humans from animals and machines
- The meanings of identity and authenticity and how they impact politics
- The nexus between liberty, freedom, bad faith, and reflection
- Types of happiness and the point of pursuing it—privately and publicly
- The importance of death and dread in our lives
- How people seek meaning and legitimacy through truth, morality, and religion
- The interplay of love and alienation, and the use of both in politics
- What, and how much, we may hope for
Meet your instructors
"This course is one of the richest and most thought-provoking courses I've taken. It combines philosophy, arts and politics to challenge our notions on a variety of topics ranging from identity, love, hope to alienation, death, god and many more. The underlying philosophy is existentialist, the politics are current, and the references to music, art and film certainly add interest and spark to the course."
"... This course has been the best experience I have had. Your preparation has been amazing and the content is the richest I have seen. Well done!"