Friedrich Nietzsche called the foundations of the western intellectual tradition into question. Throughout the twentieth century, philosophers have built on Nietzsche’s discrediting of metaphysical thought and sought new ways of thinking about truth and reality by engaging with cultural discourses such as aesthetics, politics and ethics. In figures such as Paul Ricoeur, Emmanuel Levinas and Jean-Luc Marion, this has opened the way to new possibilities for exploring transcendence and thought about God in the twenty-first century. This unit examines areas that may include the foundations of the postmodern in Nietzsche, Lyotard, Foucault, and Deleuze; the reworking of the metaphysical tradition by the hermeneutics and aesthetics of Gadamer and Merleau-Ponty; the deconstructive strategies of Heidegger and Derrida; the much-debated contemporary ‘theological turn’ in French phenomenology; and emerging movements such as the speculative realism of Quentin Meillassoux.

Unit code: AP9161C (Approved)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Philosophy

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Identify and comment on the key concepts informing postmodern thought studied in the unit


Evaluate the positions studied in the unit with those typical of previous approaches to metaphysics


Assess the significance of the postmodern project for understanding contemporary culture


Analyse the philosophical positions studied in relation to the emerging postmodern western cultural context of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries


Define, plan and undertake a topic of research in a critically rigorous, sustained and self-directed manner

Unit sequence

One foundational unit of philosophy


Lectures, seminars and tutorials

Indicative Bibliography

  • Cutrofello, Andrew. Continental Philosophy: A Contemporary Introduction. Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy. London: Routledge, 2005.
  • Grenz, Stanley J. A Primer on Postmodernism. Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans, 1996.
  • Hart, Kevin. Postmodernism: A Beginner’s Guide. Oxford: Oneworld, 2004.
  • Janicaud, Domique, Paul Ricoeur, Jean-Louis Chrétien, Jean-Luc Marion, and Michel Henry. Phenomenology and the ‘Theological Turn’: The French Debate. Perspectives in Continental Philosophy, no. 15. New York: Fordham University Press, 2000.
  • Mackinlay, Shane. Interpreting Excess: Jean-Luc Marion, Saturated Phenomena, and Hermeneutics. Perspectives in Continental Philosophy. New York: Fordham University Press, 2010.
  • Marion, Jean-Luc. The Essential Writings. Edited and introduced by Kevin Hart. Perspectives in Continental Philosophy. New York: Fordham University Press, 2013.
  • Moran, Dermot. Introduction to Phenomenology. London: Routledge, 2000.
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich. Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future. Edited by Rolf-Peter Horstmann and Judith Norman. Translated by Judith Norman. Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  • West, David. Continental Philosophy: An Introduction. Cambridge: Polity, 2010.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Option 2: :6,000-word essay 90% Week 16
:1,000-word skeleton argument 10% Week 13

OR Option 1

7000 100.0

Option 1:

:2 x 1,000-word short papers 2 x 20% Week 6, 13 or 16 (dependent on topic chosen) 1, 2 :4,000 word essay 50% Week 16 2, 3, 4, 5 :1,000 word skeleton argument 10% Week 13 2, 3, 4, 5

OR Option 2

7000 100.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 26 Sep, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2019-11-14 07:54:17 +1100