Joshua Fox received both his BA and his PhD from the University of Chicago. His research focuses on human well-being, a topic he pursues by exploring historical debates about life's value. In his dissertation, he investigated aesthetic value's importance by working through the different pessimisms confronted by Mill, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche.
PHIL 20217 Pessimism
Pessimism is often seen more as an attitude than a philosophy. It is the disposition of the complainer, the one who fails to appreciate life’s silver linings. In this course, we will consider the work of several thinkers who saw pessimism quite differently. For these thinkers, pessimism was a serious philosophical problem, perhaps even the most serious philosophical problem of all: namely, the problem of life’s value to the one who lives it. Our discussion will focus on Schopenhauer, Mill, Camus, Unamuno, and their contemporary successors. Each of these thinkers confronted a different set of worries about life’s value. We will try to understand and assess these worries. In the process, we will develop tools to productively think about what makes life worth living. (A)
PHIL 29200-03/29300-03 Junior/Senior Tutorial
Topic: Pessimism and Compassion: Schopenhauer on Value
This course will consist in a close reading of Schopenhauer’s work on ethics. Discussion will center around Schopenhauer’s two most distinctive ethical claims: 1) that compassion, direct concern for the suffering of another, is the only genuine moral incentive; and 2) that human life is inevitably a life of suffering, and thus worse to have than to lack. The second half of Schopenhauer’s On the Basis of Morality and the fourth book of his The World as Will and Representation I will be our main texts. Relevant portions of Parerga and Paralipomena and The World as Will and Representation II will also be considered.
Meets with Jr/Sr section. Prerequisite: Open only to philosophy majors. Intensive-Track Majors should reach out to the instructor to be enrolled manually. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements.