Spring, 2000

GRC 362E:

Continental Philosophy: Books that made the West

Instructor: Katherine Arens <k.arens@mail.utexas.edu>
Office: E. P. Schoch 3.128
X-lists: Philosophy 365
Course Website: by title at http://www.utexas.edu/courses/arens

This course will introduce the major strands of twentieth-century continental philosophy that originated in the German-speaking world -- texts at the basis of the modern humanitities and social sciences.

The first of these is phenomenology, as represented in texts by Husserl, Heidegger, Gadamer, and others -- the study of how we know the world as phenomena, as appearances with very specific claims to truth. This new science of philosophy converged with France's existentialist movement, especially as known from the work of Sartre and de Beauvoir

The second is Marxism, especially as it leads toward the critical theory of the Frankfurt School (including Horkmeimer, Adorno, and Habermas). This is the study of how real living conditions affect human consciousness and determine individuals' sense of self and agency in ther world.

Finally, the third arc to be addressed is that running from structuralism (Saussure) through deconstruction (Derrida), the so-called "linguistic turn" in philosophy that traces how words function as parts of world views and power structures.

Guided by Deleuze's "What is Philosophy?," the classes will be split between lectures addressing what historical situations fostered the growth of these various philosophies, and discussion of the texts in question. The goal of this split is introduce philosophers as part of an era's intellectual history, not just to treat their texts as representatives of a timeless tradition. Moreover, students will have the chance to work with specific texts in detail (in weekly précis assignments of one page each in length), and to learn analytic writing skills (in short papers).

This class fulfills the University's reqirement for classes with a "significant writing component." No prior experience with these texts is required; only the interest in working on seminal thinkers of the twentieth century.

No late work accepted unless arranged in advance or with documented medical excuse.


8 - one-page précis @6 % each = 50 % of grade (extra two % a gift)

2 five-page papers (one each on two of the three major traditions under discussion, due ca. week 7 and week 15; the first one has a required rewrite for an averaged grade) = 2 papers @ 25 % each = 50 % of grade


The Continental Philosophy Reader, eds. Richard Kearney and Mara Rainwater. London: Routledge, 1996. ISBN 0-415-09526-3.