Faculty of Arts

PHIL 341

Phenomenology and Hermeneutics

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for PHIL 341.


The twentieth century was a period of enormous philosophical creativity. In this course we examine two waves of new philosophical thought that originated in Germany in the early twentieth century and gradually spread throughout the world. The phenomenological movement, initiated by Edmund Husserl, brought fresh insight into age-old philosophical topics such as the nature of consciousness, time and reality. Then, after World War II, a renewed focus on the role of language and dialogue inspired a further revolution in philosophical thought, a style of thinking called hermeneutics. 

In this course we examine the work of key thinkers from these two intellectual movements. These include Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Emmanuel Lévinas, Hans-George Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, Charles Taylor and Jürgen Habermas.

The course objectives are to:

  • Provide a broad survey of the history of philosophy in the twentieth century, with a focus on the phenomenological and hermeneutic traditions
  • Introduce students to some leading philosophers of the twentieth century who have been widely influential in the humanities and social sciences
  • Develop students’ skills in reading, interpreting and critically assessing philosophical texts
  • Enhance students’ capabilities in scholarly analysis, interpretation of evidence and presentation of reasoned arguments

In line with the Bachelor of Arts Graduate Profile, expected learning outcomes include the ability for students to:

  • Display knowledge and understanding of the core ideas of leading philosophers of the twentieth century and of the unique contribution each has made to intellectual life in the modern world
  • Construct reasoned, reflexive arguments and interpretations using valid evidence to justify claims and conclusions
  • Express and present information and ideas clearly, coherently and persuasively in a variety of forms to diverse audiences
  • Demonstrate intellectual flexibility, self-assessment and self-directed learning for the benefit of career management as well as future personal and professional progress

View the course syllabus

Availability 2018

Semester 2


Coordinator(s) Dr Matheson Russell

Recommended Reading

Paul Gorner, Twentieth Century German Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000)


Coursework + exam


PHIL 341: 15.0 points


30 points at Stage II in Philosophy or EUROPEAN 100 and 15 points at Stage II in Philosophy


PHIL 221

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