Continental Philosophy (PHIL*3200) | College of Arts

Continental Philosophy (PHIL*3200)

Code and section: PHIL*3200*01

Term: Fall 2018

Instructor: Kyle Novak


This course will be a survey of major thinkers and themes in Continental Philosophy—a tradition in European thought running from the latter part of the 19th century through the present.  We will begin by situating the tradition against some of modern thinkers who precede it; namely Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, and Marx.  Much of the course will focus on Continental responses to the ontological, epistemological, ethical, and political/social problems raised by earlier modern thinkers as well as those within the tradition.  The work of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Deleuze, and Foucault will form the majority of class readings.  Some questions addressed by those thinkers that will be of interest to us include: what is truth? What is being? And what is a subject or self?  To provide additional context to the work of those thinkers, and Continental Philosophy in general, we will also look at psychoanalysis, Marxism, and postmodernism.  Finally, throughout the course we will consider the questions around Continental Philosophy as a subdiscipline in academic philosophy: does it have defining features? What methodologies does it use? And how is it distinct from or similar to other traditions in philosophy such as Anglo-American philosophy?

*This will be a reading and writing intensive course.  Students can email the instructor at for further information about course content or requirements.*

Course outline

The University of Guelph resides on the land of the Between the Lakes Treaty No. 3, the territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit. This land is part of the Dish with One Spoon, a covenant between Indigenous nations to live peaceably on the territories of the Great Lakes region. We recognize that today this gathering place is home to many First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and acknowledging them reminds us of our collective responsibility to the land where we learn, live and work.