Continental Philosophy

Academic Year: 
Course Description: 

Continental Philosophy in the 200-plus years since Kant goes in all sorts of conflicting directions in all sorts of widely diverging vocabularies making it difficult to cover well in a single course. My idea in this version of the course is to trace its existential(ist) themes. Existentialism can be seen as an attempt to give an account of what is distinctively human, whereby this is thought along lines that are not centered on our ability to think and be rational. Perhaps what is distinctive is that human existence is a challenge beyond, of course, our having to feed ourselves and find a roof over our heads. The primary authors read include Feuerbach, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and Camus. One question will be whether and in what form existentialism, apart from its historical origins and perhaps outmoded pathos, can be a systematic philosophical problem area today.


Learning Outcomes: 

Goals of the course: To gain an overview of Continental European philosophy since Kant, in particular with regard to its existentialist strands. To become a better of reader of older philosophical texts. To become more effective at critically such material.

Learning outcome: The desired outcome is to realize the goals of the course.


Students are required to attend classes and do the reading prior to class. They are strongly encouraged to take part in discussion. Also required:

For 2-year Philosophy MAs, end-of-year core essay exam.

For others, one 2000-word term paper.

Criteria for grading term paper include clarity, originality, depth and coherence.