There Is No Such Thing as “Continental Philosophy”

Instructor: Kristof K.P. Vanhoutte

Obtuse, obscure, confusing, nihilistic, full of sophistry, even just plain bullshit: these are just some of the accusations that have, over the years, been leveled at what is known as “Continental Philosophy.” But what exactly is this term supposed to mean? Can it really be broad enough to encompass thinkers as varied as Kant, Hegel, Husserl, Foucault, and Derrida? Is there, in fact, something—anything—of substance to be found behind it? Or is it a mere figment of the academic imagination, a spectre that has haunted the philosophical world for decades? And if so, what does this mean for the philosophy done on the European continent?

In this course, we will take a closer look at the controversial term of “Continental Philosophy.” We will examine its philosophical genealogy and its place within the broader academic world. We will trace the scholarly battles that have surrounded it, from its repudiation by so-called “Analytic Philosophy” to its appropriation, by thinkers like Judith Butler, into what goes by the name of “Theory.” Finally, we will study its spillover into broader general culture. And as we come to recognize the highly imaginary—almost mythical—nature of the term, we will try to figure out what exactly can be done to overcome this precarity.

Maximum enrollment: 10


Mondays & Tuesdays, 19:00 – 22:00
1-2 November 2021; 23-24 May, 6-7 June 2022
18 hours (3 weeks)


75016, Paris

All PICT courses are held in person.

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