Philosophy

Phenomenology

Module code: V5004
Level 5
15 credits in spring teaching
Teaching method: Seminar, Lecture
Assessment modes: Coursework, Essay

Over 50 years ago, Merleau-Ponty began his great work The Phenomenology of Perception with the words: "what is phenomenology?" It may seem strange that this question has still to be asked half a century after the first works of Husserl appeared. The aim of this module is to continue to ask that question about the nature of what has become one of the most important philosophical movements in the last hundred years, and it does so by examining some of the key texts of the philosophers most influenced by, and most critical of, the founder of that movement, Edmund Husserl (1859-1938). These philosophers include Heidegger (1889-1976), Sartre (1905-1980), Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961), Levinas (1906-1995), and Derrida (1930-2004), and they cannot be properly understood unless their relationship to Husserl's philosophy is examined.

Overall, phenomenology attempts to focus on "how" things appear to us rather than simply asking "what" these things are. Themes to be discussed include the nature of perception, the role of the sciences, the impact of emotions, the body and intersubjectivity.

A reader with photocopies of the most important texts for this module can be purchased in the first session.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate an understanding of some of the dominant thinkers in the phenomenological tradition.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of some of the dominant debates in the phenomenological tradition.
  • Compare and contrast texts and arguments from the analytical and continental traditions.
  • Develop and defend independent views on the core topics.