Instructor: Robert Cavalier (

COURSE DESCRIPTION: After discussing the historical background for Continental Philosophy, this course provides students with an overview of key movements in 20th Century European Philosophy. The central tenets of phenomenology and existentialism (e.g., intentionality, Being-in-the-World, Bad Faith) will be discussed in the context of selected works from Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty and current trends in Continental Philosophy will be addressed through discussions of Habermas's recent work.



Readings: Selected handouts of primary sources plus William Barrett's Irrational Man and Thomas McCarthy's Ideals and Illusions: On Reconstruction and Deconstruction in Contempoary Critical Theory (MIT Press).

Exams: There will be four summary essays (worth 10 points each) and three exams (worth 20 points each). Essay #1 will cover Descartes and Kant; essay #2 will be on Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. The first exam will cover Part I of the course. Essay #3 will cover Husserl and Heidegger. The second exam will cover Part II of the course. Essay #4 will be on Habermas. The final exam will cover Part III of the course.

Participation and Attendance: Significant participation (i.e., questions, discussions of topics, etc.) is encouraged. Class attendance will be required. Four missed classes will result in 2 points deducted from the final grade average. Five missed classes will result in 3 points deducted from the final grade average and six missed classes will result in 5 points deducted from the final grade average. More than 10 missed classess will result in an Incomplete for the course.


A number of sites containing information relevant to this course can be found on the World Wide Web. As with many such sites, they vary greatly in both quality and quantity. Aside from using Net Search engines, good staring points can be found in the Stanford and Routledge Online Encyclopedias of Philosophy.

Robert Cavalier / Carnegie Mellon University