PHL 324: The Continental Tradition

Time and location: Tuesdays 10-11 and Thursdays 10-12, North Building 144                          


Instructor: Dr. Donovan Miyasaki

Office Hours and Location: North Building 202B


Phone: 416-923-6845


Course Website:


Course Description

This course will provide an introduction to a number of key figures and topics in 20th century European philosophy, including phenomenology, existentialism, Frankfurt school critical theory and psychoanalytic thought.  We will also explore the foundation of these philosophical ideas in the broader philosophical tradition—their inspiration in, and against, the work of Kant, Marx and Hegel.  Although these philosophical developments are quite distinct and at times opposed, they nevertheless share common core concerns. Some of the uniting themes we’ll be discussing include the radical critique of traditional philosophical accounts of knowledge, human nature, the rational subject, and morality.  Readings will include thinkers such as Heidegger, Sartre, Adorno, Marcuse and Foucault.



 There are two required texts for the course, a photocopied course reader and The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, by Michel Foucault.  Both are available at the UTM bookstore.



10%     Course Participation                 First post due October 14

20%     First Essay (4-6 pp)                 Due October 25

30%     Second Essay (6-8 pp)             Due November 29

40%     Final Exam                               TBA 


Students agree that by taking this course all required papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers will be included as source documents in the reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such papers. The terms that apply to the University’s use of the service are described on the web site.


For instructions on how to submit your essays to, please see the following website:


To use, you will need to create a user profile.  When you create your profile, you will be required to enter a class ID # (enter “1343629”) and a password (enter “phl324”).


Extensions and Excused Absences

The penalty for late assignments is 2% per day, including weekends.  Extensions and excused absences will be granted only in clearly extenuating circumstances.  (Note that ordinary scheduling and workload issues are your responsibility and consequently do not count as extenuating circumstances.)  The request must be made in advance whenever possible and appropriate documentation will be required.  Requests based on medical reasons must include a fully completed medical form.  The physician must state the duration of the condition, state whether or not it interfered with the student’s ability to complete course work, sign or stamp the form, and include personal contact information.


Description of Assignments


1. Course Participation, total of 10%


Lecture Attendance, 6%

Attendance is required.  For each unexcused absence, you will lose one percentage point of       your final grade (up to a maximum penalty of -6%). 


Online Forum Participation, 4% (2% per post)

Each student must post at least two messages on the course discussion board.  The first post is due by midnight, Friday, October 14th.  At least one of your posts must be in the “Questions” section of the forum. There’s no required length (a short paragraph is fine), but it should be a thoughtful and substantive post addressing a course topic. 


2-3. Essays

Two brief essays on a choice of assigned topics (TBA).  Essays should be double-spaced, with 1 inch margins and 10-12 point font.  Please do not include a separate cover sheet.  Essays must be handed in during class in order to be counted as received on-time.  Late essays may be emailed.  The penalty for late papers is 2% of your essay grade per day, including weekends.


For essay-writing help and information on grading criteria, please see “Essay Help” section of the course website.  You should also download the handouts on proper source documentation and avoiding plagiarism in the “Handouts” section of the course website.


4. Final Exam (2 hours) – Details to be announced.


Please note that the faculty deadline for the submission of term work is the last day of class.  Extensions beyond this deadline may be granted only if it does not interfere with the submission of grades.  Otherwise, students must petition through their College Registrar.

Tentative Course Schedule


Week   Date     Reading




1          9/13     Introduction to the course


            9/15     Nietzsche         Twilight of the Idols, “Reason in Philosophy” and

                                                            “How the ‘True World’ Finally Became a Fable”

                                                Genealogy of Morals, book III, section 12                             

                        Sokolowski      Introduction to Phenomenology, 8-16 and 42-65


2          9/20     Polt                  Heidegger: An Introduction, 1-7 and 24-31  


            9/22     Oaklander        Existentialist Philosophy: An Introduction, “Heidegger Lexicon”

                        Heidegger         Being and Time, section 7, “Phenomenological Method of Investigation”


3          9/27     Polt                  Heidegger: An Introduction, 43-55 and 60-64

                        Heidegger         Being and Time: Section 9, “Theme of the Analytic of Da-sein,”


9/29                                         Section 27, “Everyday Being One’s Self and the They”

                                                Section 38, “Falling Prey and Thrownness”


4          10/04   Heidegger         Continued, Sections 39-41, “Care as the Being of Da-sein”


            10/06   Polt                  Heidegger: An Introduction, 85-92

            Heidegger         Being and Time:

                                                Sections 54-57, “The Attestation of Da-sein of an Authentic

                                                           Potentiality-of-Being and Resoluteness”

                                                Section 60, “The Existential Structure of the Authentic

                                                           Potentiality-of-Being Attested in Conscience”                    




5          10/11   FIRST FORUM POST DUE THIS WEEK (by midnight, Friday the 14th)

                        Oaklander        Existentialist Philosophy: An Introduction, 205-224

                                                            (stop at “Sartre’s Account of Bad Faith”)


10/13   Oaklander        224-230 (stop at “Sartre on Sex”) and “Sartre Lexicon,” 238-240  

            Sartre               Being and Nothingness, “Bad Faith,” 47-50 and 55-67


6          10/18   Oaklander        Existentialist Philosophy: An Introduction, 233-238

                        Sartre               Being and Nothingness, 221-223 and 252-265

                                                            “Existence with Others: The Problem” and “The Look”


            10/20   CLASS CANCELLED (no office hours)     





7          10/25   FIRST ESSAY DUE

                        Sartre               Existentialism is a Humanism, 310-319              


            10/27   Kant                 “What is Enlightenment?”

                        Horkheimer      “Ends and Means”

                                                “End of Reason”


8          11/1     Marx                “Alienation” and “Commodity Fetishism”


            11/3     Adorno &        Excerpt from “The Fetish Character in Music,” 278-280

                        Horkheimer      Begin “The Culture Industry”                 


9          11/8                             Finish “The Culture Industry”


            11/10   Freud               Group Psychology, chapters II and VII-X                  


10        11/15   Adorno            “Freudian Theory and the Pattern of Fascist Propaganda”


11/17   Freud               Civilization and Its Discontents, chapters IV-VII


11        11/22   Marcuse           Eros and Civilization, chapter 4





11/24   Marcuse           Continue Eros and Civilization, chapter 6 

                        Nietzsche         Genealogy of Morals, book II, section 12

                        Foucault           Begin History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Part One


12        11/29   SECOND ESSAY DUE                    

                        Foucualt                       Continued, Part Two


            12/1                                         Part Three


13        12/6                                         Part Four


            12/8                                         Part Five


December 12-21: Final Examination Period