Module Details

PY950-7-SP-CO: Topics In Continental Philosophy

Year: 2016/17
Department: Philosophy
Essex credit: 15
ECTS credit: 7.5
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: Yes
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: No
Comments: This is an MA level module. MA students from other courses may take this module as an option, provided they have the prior approval from their department and the Module Supervisor. This module is compulsory for students on the Continental Philosophy pathway of the MA Philosophy.

Supervisor: Dr Fiona Hughes
Teaching Staff: Dr Fiona Hughes
Contact details: Initial contact is Wendy Williams, Graduate Administrator (School of Philosophy & Art History), email, tel 01206 872705.

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

Module Outline (updated September 2016)

This year the focus will be on the relation between perception and reflection with particular reference to Merleau-Ponty and, as a background condition of our discussion, Kant. In the first part of the course we will begin by examining the relation between reflection and perception in Kant's reflective aesthetic judgement, before focussing on the nature of perception in Merleau-Ponty's writings. In the second part of the course we will look at the contemporary debate between McDowell and Dreyfus (and others) on perception and reflection. The idea driving the course will be that there may be, between the extremes of embodied coping (Dreyfus), on the one hand, and 'spontaneity all the way down' (McDowell), on the other, an alternative way of thinking about the inter-relation between perception and reflection. In drawing out this alternative we will find that it is not at all coincidental that Kant introduced a reflection indexed to perception within his philosophy of aesthetics.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this seminar, students are expected to be able to:
display in-depth knowledge of the relevant topic;
display detailed knowledge of the texts from the Continental tradition studied in the module;
develop a critical assessment of at least some of the views examined in class and articulate their own views on the same topic;
write a well-researched paper on a subject selected within the field of continental philosophy and in relation to the module's main topic.

Learning and Teaching Methods

1 x one-hour lecture, followed by 1 x one-hour seminar each week during spring term, except Week 21 which is Reading Week.


100 per cent Coursework Mark


1 x 4,000 word essay

Other information

Weighting = 100% coursework


  • Bibliography (updated September 2016)
  • Kant, I. Critique of Aesthetic Judgement trans Pluhar, Hackett, 1987.
  • Merleau-Ponty, M. The Primacy of Perception trans. James M. Edie [Northwestern University Press, 1964]
  • Merleau-Ponty, M. Phenomenology of Perception trans. C. Smith, Routledge, 2002.
  • Merleau-Ponty, M. The Visible and the Invisible, trans. A. Lingis, Northwestern, 1968.
  • Merleau-Ponty, M. `Eye and Mind` in G. A. Johnson (ed.), The Merleau-Ponty Aesthetics Reader,, Northwestern, 1993.
  • Inquiry Vol. 50, No. 4, August 2007. (for exchange between Dreyfus and McDowell)
  • Travis, C. 'The Silence of the Senses' in Mind Vol. 113, January 2004
  • Travis, C. 'Reason's Reach' in European Journal of Philosophy, 15.2, 2007; pp. 225-248
  • Preparatory Reading
  • Merleau-Ponty, M. 'The Primacy of Perception' in The Primacy of Perception> trans. James M. Edie [Northwestern University Press, 1964]

Further information