Nineteenth Century Continental Philosophy
Philosophy 44
11:00 MWF Peter Suber
Carpenter Hall 321 Fall 1997-98

The required reading for this course consists of a few hand-outs and 5 books:
  1. Johann Gottlieb Fichte, The Science of Knowledge, trans. Peter Heath and John Lachs, Cambridge University Press, 1982.
  2. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A.V. Miller, Oxford University Press, 1977.
  3. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, The German Ideology, trans. anon., abridged by C.J. Arthur, International Publishers, 1970.
  4. Søren Kierkegaard, Philosophical Fragments, trans. Howard and Edna Hong, Princeton University Press, 1985.
  5. Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, trans. Walter Kaufmann, Random House, Vintage Books, 1966.

Note: each of these books exists in different English translations. Please use the translations and editions cited, unless you can get the out-of-print unabridged edition of Marx and Engels from International Publishers.

I've created a course home-page containing a collection of hand-outs and course-related web links at

Works and pages cited for a given day will be discussed that day in class and should have been read in advance. Readings in brackets are recommended but not required.

Week 1. August 25-29

Week 2. September 1-5

Week 3. September 8-12

Week 4. September 15-19

Week 5. September 22-26

Week 6. September 29 - October 3

Week 7. October 6-10

Week 8. October 13-17

Week 9. October 20-24

Week 10. October 27-31

Week 11. November 3-7

Week 12. November 10-14

Week 13. November 17-21

Week 14. November 24-28

Week 15. December 1-5

Week 16. December 8-12

Work Summary

Short papers

These should ask a sharp, narrow question and offer an interpretation of the author's answer and supporting argument.

This is the full paper assignment described in the generic hand-out minus the evaluative comments. Evaluative comments are welcome if they are above and beyond the 3-4 pp. of exegesis.

If you submit a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your last paper (on Nietzsche), then I will mail it to you during the break. If you put your campus mail box number on it, I will mail it to your campus box early next semester. If you do neither, I will hold it for you to pick up next semester.

Long paper

The long paper should contain both interpretation of the author's position (and argument) and your evaluative comments on their strengths and weakness. See the generic hand-out.

Library research is recommended but not required. If you do some library research, include a bibliography citing the sources you used. Only use library sources if they help you interpret the author's position or evaluate its merits. This is not a research paper in which you have to report the views of other scholars.

The holdings in Lilly are very good in nineteenth century philosophy. The material on the web on our five major authors is very uneven in quantity and quality. For the foreseeable future, the best way to do depth research in philosophy will be in a print library or the online version of Philosopher's Index.

A week before the paper is due, I will want your question and the name of your chosen philosopher in writing.

With permission, you may turn in your long paper on our exam day, Wednesday, December 17, instead of the date listed in the schedule. This would allow you to write on Nietzsche. If you take this option, your topic is due Wednesday, December 9 (the due date of the short Nietzsche paper).

Think-about questions

At the request of past students I have written a hand-out of questions [not yet online] to help you see the important issues in each day's reading. You need not answer any of them, but you should look them over as you read, to see whether you are following the important themes in the text. Don't be surprised if these questions come up in discussion. If you don't have answers for them, then having page numbers where we might begin to look for answers would be helpful.


The hand-out of think-about questions [not yet online] will also contain theses to explicate. These are important conclusions of our authors. To explicate one is to find the author's supporting argument and restate it with great brevity and clarity. (For more detail, see my explication hand-out.) You need not write any explications for this course. But don't be surprised if we try to construct one collaboratively in class every now and then.


By design, more than half this course will be discussion. Therefore, good preparation is essential. You should be prepared every day to (1) discuss the reading, (2) ask questions about its meaning and merit, (3) help others to find the answers, (4) discern presuppositions, (5) trace consequences, (6) reconstruct arguments, (7) evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of positions.

I expect that every student will participate voluntarily every day. I will not call on non-volunteers unless it is necessary to bring in every voice.

The first hour of most Fridays is reserved for student presentations and discussions. The assignment is for the presenter to offer a 15-20 minute presentation on a problem, question, position, or argument in the reading for that day. The presentation should include a reading or interpretation of the text for that day, but may go well beyond it, e.g. to criticism, applications, significance, influence, and so on. I encourage presenters to draw on library research, although it is not necessary. After the presentation the same student will lead the class in a discussion of the issues raised in the presentation. For more information, see the hand-out on giving presentations and leading discussions.

Sign up for a Friday as soon as can; they will be allocated first-come, first-served. You will present and lead alone, not in teams, unless there are not enough slots to match the enrollment. You may have to go more than once if there are too few students to fill every slot.

On the day of your presentation, please submit a short (2-4 pp.) paper on the issues, questions, or material of your presentation, and the questions or plan for your discussion afterwards. They must be typed and cannot receive extensions. They are described more fully in the presentation hand-out.

Please observe these aspects of the presentation:

Grade Weights

The final grade is based on these elements with these weights:

five short papers 40% (8% each)
one long paper 25%
oral presentations 10%
participation 25%