Nineteenth-Century Continental Philosophy                                                                      Spring 2006

Prof. David Vessey                                                                                                                    MWF 9-9:50                                                                                                               CLS 3071                          

Office Hours: CLS 3073

MW 1:00-2:30; F: 1:00-2:00 and by appointment



Roger Scruton, Kant: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford)

Fredrick Weiss, ed., Hegel: The Essential Writings (Harper)

The Portable Karl Marx (Penguin)

Howard and Edna Hong, eds, The Essential Kierkegaard (Princeton)

Walter Kaufmann, The Basic Writings of Nietzsche (Modern Library)


Course Description:

The nineteenth century was one of the most diverse and exciting periods of philosophical thought. Philosophers struggled to come to terms with the insights of Kantian idealism, yet make room for new development in the sciences, history, politics, and the arts. In this course we will focus on four main thinkers from the period, each providing us with a different philosophical emphasis but together giving us a good sense of the issues and arguments of the time. G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831) will help us understand how the nineteenth-century brought together ideas from the enlightenment and romanticism into grand systems of thought; Karl Marx (1818-1883) will help us understand how nineteenth-century philosophy came to understand itself as a political and practical activity rather than a merely theoretical one; SŅren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) will help us understand how the nineteenth-century struggled with the new sense of individuality and the place of religion in an increasingly scientific age; finally Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) will bring forth radical new ideas and new questions, only thinkable post-Darwin when “God is Dead.”


Course Method:

The course will be discussion oriented as it is not simply enough to understand the views of others, we must take up their questions and understand how those questions play out in our lives and in our times. Only discussion can further this end. But that means that attendance is very important—one can’t make up a discussion—and preparation for class is crucial. A significant amount of the final grade, then, is based on attendance, preparation and participation. Everyone will be assigned one day in which he or she needs to prepare a study guide based on a day’s reading; that student needs to bring enough copies for everyone in the class and hand out the study guide the class before the reading. A template for the study guides will be handed out the first day of class. There will also be four take home essay exams, one on each of the four thinkers, and a final exam comparing the figures. On the exams and the study guides, a typo policy applies. A minimal condition of doing acceptable college-level work is being able to submit papers without typographical errors. The student will lose one grade (for example from an A- to a B+) for every four typographical errors. Include in typographical errors are spelling errors, grammatical errors, improper use of gendered pronouns, and failing to properly cite. Failing to properly cite is different from plagiarism. Plagiarizing is a sign that the student has so lost track of the point of getting an education that it would be best for that student to take time away from school to regain their sense of priorities. Any plagiarized assignment will receive a failing grade and the student will be encouraged to drop the class. The plagiarism violation will be reported to the Dean in case there is a pattern of plagiarism across classes that may lead the Dean to take additional action.




Attendance, Preparation, and Participation:            25%       Take Home Exams:          12.5% each (50% total)

Study Guide:                                                                  10%       Final Exam:                       15%

1. Mon. Jan. 9                    Introductions


2. Wed. Jan. 11                  Kantian Background     Overview

                                             Reading: Scruton pp. 1-31


3. Fri Jan. 13                      Kantian Background     Metaphysics/Epistemology

                                             Reading: Scruton pp. 32-72



Mon Jan. 16                       MLK Day/No Class


4. Wed. Jan 18                   Kantian Background     Ethics

                                             Reading: Scruton pp. 73-95


5. Fri. Jan. 20                     Kantian Background     Aesthetics

                                             Reading: Scruton pp. 96-111



6. Mon. Jan 23                  Hegel                   "What Is Philosophy"

                                                            Reading: Weiss, pp. 19­­–36


*7. Wed. Jan. 25               Hegel                   Phenomenology of Spirit, "Introduction"                

                                                            Reading: Weiss, pp. 44­­–54


*8. Fri. Jan. 27                   Hegel                   Phenomenology of Spirit, "Consciousness, Self-consciousness

and Perception"

                                                            Reading: Weiss pp. 54–64



*9. Mon Jan. 30                Hegel                   Phenomenology of Spirit, "Lordship and Bondage"

                                                            Reading: Weiss pp. 64–79


10. Wed. Feb. 1                Hegel                   Phenomenology of Spirit,

                                                            Reading: Weiss pp. 79-85


*11. Fri. Feb. 3                  Hegel                   Philosophy of Right, Preface and Introduction

                                                            Reading: Weiss, pp. 256–266



*12. Mon Feb. 6               Hegel                   Philosophy of Right, Morality and the Ethical life

                                                            Reading: Weiss, pp. 266–278


*13. Wed. Feb 8                Hegel                   Absolute Spirit

                                                            Reading: Weiss, pp. 317-138


14. Fri Feb. 10                   Review Hegel



Mon. Feb. 13                     Lincoln’s Birthday/No Class


15. Wed. Feb. 15               Hegel Take Home Exam Due


16. Fri. Feb. 17                  Marx                   Critique of Hegel, I

                                             Reading: Marx pp. 82-95



*17. Mon. Feb. 20            Marx                   Critique of Hegel, II

                                             Reading: Marx pp. 96-124


*18. Wed. Feb. 22            Marx                   Alienated Labor

                                             Reading: Marx pp. 131-151


19. Fri. Feb. 24                  Marx                   “Theses on Feuerbach”

                                             Reading: Marx pp. 155-161



*20. Mon Feb. 27             Marx                   German Ideology

                                             Reading: Marx pp. 162-182


*21. Wed. Mar. 1              Marx                   Manifesto of the Communist Party, I

                                             Reading: Marx pp. 203-220


*22. Fri. Mar. 3                 Marx                   Manifesto of the Communist Party, II

                                             Reading: Marx pp. 221-244



*23. Mon. Mar. 6              Marx                   “Critique of the Gotha Program”

                                             Reading: Marx pp. 533-556


24. Wed. Mar. 8                Review of Marx


25. Fri. Mar. 10                 Introduction to Kierkegaard

Marx Take Home Exam Due



26. Mon Mar. 13               Kierkegaard      Either/Or, I

                                             Reading: Hong, pp. 37-65


*27. Wed. Mar. 15            Kierkegaard      Either/Or, II

                                             Reading: Hong, pp. 66-83


*28. Fri. Mar. 17               Kierkegaard      Fear and Trembling

                                             Reading: Hong, pp. 93-101






*29. Mon. Mar. 27           Kierkegaard      The Concept of Anxiety

                                             Reading: Hong, pp. 138-155


*30. Wed. Mar. 29            Kierkegaard      Concluding Unscientific Postscript, I

                                             Reading: Hong, pp. 187-217

*31. Fri. Mar. 31               Kierkegaard      Concluding Unscientific Postscript, II

                                             Reading: Hong, pp. 218-247



*32. Mon. Apr. 3              Kierkegaard      The Sickness Unto Death

                                             Reading: Hong, pp. 350-372


*33. Wed. Apr. 5               Kierkegaard      “For Self-Examination”

                                             Reading: Hong, pp. 393-411


34. Fri. Apr. 7                    Review of Kierkegaard



35. Mon. Apr. 10              Introduction to Nietzsche

Kierkegaard Take Home Exam Due


36. Wed. Apr. 12               Nietzsche            The Birth of Tragedy

                                             Reading: Kaufmann pp. 1-31


*37. Fri. Apr. 14                Nietzsche            Beyond Good and Evil, I

                                             Reading: Kaufmann pp. 187-207



*38. Mon. Apr.17             Nietzsche            Beyond Good and Evil, II

                                             Reading: Kaufmann pp. 208-237


*39. Wed. Apr. 19            Nietzsche            The Gay Science

                                             Reading: Handout


*40. Fri. Apr. 21                Nietzsche            On the Genealogy of Morals, Preface

                                             Reading: Kaufmann pp. 437-470



*41. Mon. Apr. 24            Nietzsche            On the Genealogy of Morals, Book I

                                             Reading: Kaufmann pp. 471-530


*42. Wed. Apr. 26            Nietzsche            On the Genealogy of Morals, Book II

                                             Reading: Kaufmann pp. 531-570


43. Fri. Apr. 28                  Nietzsche Review



44. Mon. Apr. 30              Conclusion/ Course Evaluations

                                             Nietzsche Take Home Exam Due



May 3, 10:00-11:50         FINAL EXAM