PHENOMENOLOGY

Last Updated 26/04/05

BACK TO LPSG CONTENTS

  1. The Paper
  2. General Reading
  3. Specific Authors

 


1. The Paper

This paper covers the main philosophers belonging to the school of phenomenology, which began early in the twentieth century with Husserl and was later developed and highly modified (and given its ‘existential' form) by Heidegger, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. As with the Nineteenth-Century German Philosophy paper, a broad knowledge of Kant's philosophy is a considerable advantage. Knowledge of the original languages (German, French) is helpful but not necessary. In the exam, students are asked to answer three questions, on at least two of the authors. Most of the questions refer to one philosopher only, but there may be in addition some questions that are general or comparative (students may be asked, for example, to discuss an aspect of Merleau-Ponty's critique of Sartre). As there is a wide range of questions asked on each author, it is sufficient for examination purposes to select two philosophers, and to examine their doctrines, and the arguments for and against them, in depth and detail. However, in view of the fact that Heidegger, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty are responding in large part to their predecessors, a broad knowledge of all the philosophers on the paper is essential for a full understanding of those you choose to study in detail.

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2. General Reading

The following sections offer suggestions for reading and list some of the central topics studied for each philosopher. The most useful books are marked with an asterisk. This is of course not an exhaustive list, and more detailed reading will be required for particular topics.

To gain a general idea of Kant's Philosophy

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General books on phenomenology

A selection from the writings of the phenomenologists:

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3. Specific Authors

Husserl (1859 - 1938)

Topics studied include: Husserl's idea of presuppositionless philosophy and relation to Descartes; the phenomenological reduction; Husserl's conception of intentionality and analysis of consciousness; Husserl's theory of time-consciousness; Husserl's theory of the transcendental ego; Husserl's account of other minds.

Main Text

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Additional Texts

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Secondary Reading

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Heidegger (1889 - 1976)

Topics studied include: Heidegger's question of Being and distinction of Being and beings/entities; Heidegger's conception of phenomenology and hermeneutics; Heidegger's analytic of Dasein; Heidegger's critique of traditional epistemology and metaphysics; Heidegger's conception of authenticity and account of being-towards-death; the later Heidegger.

Main Text

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Additional Texts

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Secondary Reading

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Sartre (1905 - 1980)

Topics studied include: Sartre's early theories of the self, emotion, and imagination; Sartre's theory of consciousness; Sartre's account of the reality of nothingness; Sartre's theory of bad faith and critique of Freud; Sartre's account of the fundamental project; Sartre's account of other minds and theory of interpersonal relations; Sartre's anti-determinism and conception of freedom; Sartre's ethics.

Main Text

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Additional Texts

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Secondary Reading

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Merleau-Ponty (1908 - 1961)

Topics studied include: Merleau-Ponty's conception of phenomenology; Merleau-Ponty's relation to empirical psychology; Merleau-Ponty's critique of empiricism and intellectualism (of 'objective thought'); Merleau-Ponty's account of perception; Merleau-Ponty's account of embodiment (‘bodily intentionality'); Merleau-Ponty's account of intersubjectivity; Merleau-Ponty's account of freedom; Merleau-Ponty's critique of Sartre.

Main Text

[NB Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Basic Writings, ed. Thomas Baldwin (London: Routledge, 2004), contains extensive selections from the Phenomenology of Perception, (excerpts from) earlier and later writings, a helpful Editor's Introduction, and a topic-based guide to Further Reading.]

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Additional Texts

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Secondary Reading

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