What is the course about?
As one of the key philosophical approaches developed in the 20th Century, Phenomenology attempts to understand
reality as constituted through individual experience. Whilst this is not inconsistent with naturalistic, scientific/causal
approaches it does differ significantly in method and orientation. The aim here will be to attempt to make sense of
the phenomenological approach and its applications. This will be done through examining the work of the key
‘phenomenological’ philosophers: Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty but also taking into account later
thinkers such as Hannah Arendt as relevant.
What will we cover?
A selection of short readings will be provided which will form the basis for our examination of the key thinkers.
Through these brief extracts we will examine core phenomenological concepts such as ‘epoche’ (bracketing),
‘being-in-the-world’, ‘constitutive’ and ‘embodied’ experience, ‘intersubjective’ and ‘hermeneutic’ (interpretative)
Husserl – extracts from ‘Phenomenology’ (Ency. Britannica entry)
Heidegger – extracts from ‘Being and Time’ and ‘Bremen Lectures: Insight into That Which is’
Sartre – extracts from ‘Existentialism is a Humanism’ and ‘Being and Nothingness’
Merleau-Ponty – extracts from ‘Phenomenology of Perception’
Phenomenological paths – Extracts from Arendt’s ‘The Human Condition’.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Explain, briefly, how phenomenological and scientific accounts of reality differ
- Discuss, simply, the key ideas of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an introductory course that assumes no specific philosophical learning or ability other than an interest in thinking philosophically. A willingness to engage in thinking-through and discussing ideas will be of benefit – some perseverance in reading the short extracts provided may be required.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The course will run, in the main, in a ‘seminar’ format with brief tutor presentations followed by Q&A and open
discussion. There may be some small-group formats for discussion based on topics arising from the short readings.
Participants are advised to read the relevant material prior to the sessions. All slides will be available online for later reference.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
No other costs. Participants may wish to take notes with pen & paper, laptop or tablet according to their preference.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Please check our website - www.citylit.ac.uk - to see the philosophy courses on offer.
General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details