Philosophy Discussion

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The following discussion has three parts:

1. Briefly explain how West interprets the existentialist terms, “despair,” “absurd” and “angst” (or “anxiety”) as features of the nihilistic condition that has threatened Black communities in the U.S.

2. Based on West’s critique of American politics and his explication of nihilism, analyze what he means by the term “culture” (NOTE: you should be mindful that “culture” is neither simply economics/ politics nor personal values like work ethic)

3. Highlight one way in which capitalism/ consumerism (or “market morality”) has undermined cultural buffers against nihilism or contributes to nihilism in Black communities and in America as a whole [I encourage you to offer your own view on this matter, or alternatively, if you are relying on West’s analysis, I recommend that you offer a concrete example from contemporary culture to complement West’s analysis].

Reading page:

1. Sartre: Existentialism is a Humanism 42-54; Lecture notes on Sartre

2. West: “Nihilism in Black America”