Virginia Wesleyan College
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Student Research Projects
‘That Single Individual’: Dr. Gregory House
Dr. Robert Woods|
In his “Existentialism as a Humanism” Jean-Paul Sartre states that there are two types of existentialists. There are the Christians of Existentialism and then there are the Atheists. Each party tackles the difficult questions of existence. In particular, existentialists focus on the question of ‘What does it mean to exist?’ This paper considers the answers to this question in regards to two prominent existential philosophers. Soren Kierkegaard from the perspective of the Christian existentialists and Jean-Paul Sartre from the perspective of the existential Atheists. This paper focuses particularly on the influence of Sartre and Kierkegaard’s philosophies on the modern character of Dr. Gregory House. House is the protagonist of the television series “House M.D.” In the past, House has been openly honest about his disbelief in God and religion. Therefore, without reading any further, lovers of the drama would undoubtedly consider House as an existential Atheist.
However, this paper focuses on House after a stint in a mental facility. In this paper, I suggest the possibility that Gregory House may be progressing along Kierkegaard’s “stages of life.” Specifically, House as leaving what Kierkegaard considers the aesthetic stage, towards the second ethical stage. Kierkegaard’s aesthetic stage of existence is concerned with immediate satisfactions without concern to the past, future or others. In contrast, the ethical stage of existence is concerned with the relationship to others and basic morality. A shocking progression for a person who is known as rude, sarcastic, and put plainly, a jerk! However, I support my claim that House has chosen a Kierkegaarian existence using dialogue from Season 6 of House that highlights House’s choice to obtain closer relationships with those around him. I argue against a Sarterian opposition by claiming that it can not be determined that House remains an Atheist of sorts.