Continental Philosophy

Graduate Program (& Advanced Certificate) Status

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Course Description: 

Continental Philosophy, in the 200-plus years since Kant, has taken very different directions, answering divergent questions in divergent vocabularies, making it difficult to cover in a single course. I want to focus on Continental philosophy’s existentialist themes. Existentialism is a philosophical account of what is distinctively human that is not necessarily centered on rationality narrowly construed. It explores those aspects of human existence that present a distinctive challenge to us beyond our immediate material needs. The central authors we read include Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and Beauvoir.

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students who have done the required work will have become familiar with some central problems and authors in Continental European philosophy since Kant, in particular with regard to existentialist thought, will have become better able to discern and evaluate arguments in (older) philosophical texts and will have developed their argumentation and writing skills to articulate their own position on key questions presented in the course.


Students are required to attend classes and to do the reading prior to class. They are strongly encouraged to participate in discussion. Also required: For all students (except auditors): one 10-minute in-class oral response to the material (not a summary of the reading but focusing on and responding to a single point). For 2-year Philosophy MAs, end-of-year core essay exam. For non 2-year Philosophy MAs students (except auditors), one 2000-word term paper. Most important criteria in grading term papers: clarity, originality, depth and coherence. Participation counts for 10%.