Richard Palmer

Jacksonville, Illinois 62650

Fall Semester, 2000


Philosophy 401

Senior Phenomenology Seminar

Meeting Time: T Th  12:35-1:50



Required Texts


1. Moral, D.  Introduction to Phenomenology.   Routledge, 2000.        0415183731


2. Derrida, J.  Husserl’s Origin of Geometry.  U. Nebraska, 1989.  0803265808


3. Heidegger, M. Being and Time.   SUNY Press, 1993.                   0791426785


4. Heidegger, M.  Basic Writings.   Harper San Francisco, rev. 1993.   0060637633


5. Gadamer, H-G.  Truth and Method.  Continuum, 1989 rev. trans.    0826405851



Reading assignments not contained in the above texts will be available in the library on reserve or as handouts. 



Facilitator: Richard E. Palmer

Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Religion

MacMurray College, Jacksonville, IL 62650

Office: Norris Academic Bldg,

446 East State, Room 402

e-mail address:

Web page:



Philosophy of the Seminar


          This is not a “lecture course” but a seminar. As such, it will focus on discussion and on questions asked in class over the terminology and intentions of the reading.  Normally, we will not address material about which there is not a question from members of the seminar—something they want to know.  The assigned reading is the “lecture.”  The seminar is the discussion of the lecture.  Write out your questions, mark passages you would like to discuss in class.  Although you have only one specific assignment in the the secondary resource on phenomenology, it will provide you throughout the semester with valuable biographical background and with clear explanations of the key concepts in each philosopher.  You are encouraged to consult it when you want to know more about the background of the philosopher or about key concepts. 

          This is not a graduate level seminar such as you would find in Germany.  Such a seminar in Heidelberg, for instance, would spend a semester on one text by one philosopher.  I recall one such seminar, on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, where, under Professor Gadamer’s leadership, we spent a semester on the first four sections, omitting the introduction.  I have to admit that he did a great deal of the talking in commentary on the text.  Another seminar by Professor Gadamer, on Heidegger’s Letter on Humanism, got only one third of the way through the text!  The first two paragraphs took two meetings.  And a seminar I took led by Konrad Kramer, on Heidegger’s Being and Time, spent a whole semester on the first few sections of that masterwork.  The present seminar will look at only a few essential texts by three major thinkers: Husserl, Heidegger, and Gadamer.  We will struggle together with the works of each thinker for about four weeks and then ask you for an exam or paper.  So you would be well advised to come to each class meeting prepared to discuss the text at hand, seeking to be active learners, absorbing as much as you can.


Reading Assignments

Unit 1: Husserl and Derrida

Week #1

Aug.   29  T    Organizational Meeting

           31  Th  Moran, Introduction to Phenomenology, pp. 1-22.


Week #2

Sept.    5  T    Husserl, Britannica article (1928), “Phenomenology,”

                             Part I, pp. 159-171 (in handout).  Moran, pp. 124-142.

           7  Th  Husserl, Britannica article, pp. 171-179.  Moran, pp. 142-163.


Week #3

Sept.  12  T    Husserl, “The Origin of Geometry,” pp. 157-180 in Derrida,    

                      Husserl’s Origin of Geometry: An Introduction.

         14  Th  Derrida, Introduction to Husserl’s OG, pp. 25-57.


Week #4

Sept.  19  T     Derrida, Introduction to Husserl’s OG, pp. 58-90.

          21  Th   Derrida, Introduction to Husserl’s OG, pp. 91-121.


Week #5

Sept.  26  T    Derrida, Introduction to Husserl’s OG, pp. 122-153.

         28  Th  Exam over Husserl and Derrida. 


Unit 2: Heidegger and Sartre

Week #6

Oct.    3  T    Heidegger, Being and Time, sections 1-7, pp. 1-35.

          5  Th  Heidegger, Being and Time, sections 31-33, pp. 134-150.

Possible field trip to the annual meeting of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy at Penn State U., State College, PA, Oct. 5-7.


Week #7

Oct.  10  T    Heidegger, Being and Time, section 44, pp. 196-211.

12     Th  Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art,” in Basic Writings,                 

           pp. 139-176 (first half)


Week #8

Oct.  17  T    Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art,” BW, pp. 177-212.

        19  Th  FALL BREAK (I will go to Budapest to present a paper.)


Week #9

Oct.  24  T     No class meeting (I will be in Heidelberg, Germany, conferring

                     with Prof. Gadamer). Read Sartre, “Existentialism is a Humanism.”

        26  Th  Read Sartre, “No Exit.”  In class, discuss both “Existentialism is a

                   Humanism” and “No Exit.”  If necessary, we will schedule an    

                   extra make-up meeting to cover Sartre.


Week #10

Oct. 31  T    Heidegger, “Letter on Humanism,” Basic Writings, pp. 213-239.

Nov.  2  Th  Heidegger, “Letter on Humanism,” BW, pp. 240-265.


Week #11

Nov.  7  T   Finish discussion of Heidegger “Letter on Humanism.” 

                                          Review Heidegger, Sartre, Husserl.  No reading assignment.

Nov.  9  Th  Heidegger paper to be presented in class and discussed.


Unit 3: Gadamer

Week #12

Nov. 14  T    Gadamer, Truth and Method, pp. xxi-xxxviii, 89-144.

        16  Th  Gadamer, Truth and Method, pp. 265-311.

Thanksgiving Recess, Nov. 18-26

Week #13

 Nov. 28  T    Gadamer, Truth and Method, pp. 312-379.

         30  Th  Gadamer, Truth and Method, pp. 438-491.


Week #14

Dec.   5  T    Gadamer, “The Relevance of the Beautiful,” pp. xi-xxi, 3-31.

          7  Th  Gadamer, “The Relevance of the Beautiful,” pp. 31-53.


Week #15

Dec.  12  T    Gadamer, Conversations 1 and 5 of Gadamer in Conversation

                 (forthcoming from Yale University Press in 2001)

        14  Th  Gadamer paper presented in class. Final Class Meeting.   

                     Discussion of Final Exam: Which will involve definition                          of Key Terms, plus essay questions.

Dec. 16   S    Reading Day  

Dec. 18  M     Final Examinations begin. 


  List of Primary Source Texts

Unit 1: Husserl and Derrida

               Husserl, Britannica  article, “Phenomenology”  1 week

               Husserl, The Origin of Geometry                      .5 week    4.5 weeks

               Derrida,Intro to Husserl’s Origin of Geometry 2 weeks

               Husserl/Derrida Exam                              .5 week


Unit 2: Heidegger and Sartre

               Heidegger, Being and Time                             1.5 weeks

               Heidegger, The Origin of a Work of Art   1 week

               Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism/No Exit   1 week     5 weeks

               Heidegger, Letter on Humanism                        1 week

               Heidegger research paper presented in class     .5 week


Unit 3: Gadamer

              Gadamer, Truth and Method                             2 weeks

              Gadamer, The Relevance of the Beautiful 1 week     4 weeks

             Gadamer in Conversation  (prepublication)        .5 week

               Gadamer research paper presented in class        .5 week

                                      Total time for seminar              14.5 weeks


Weighting of Grades

Husserl/Derrida Exam - 20%

Heidegger/Sartre Paper    -  25%

Gadamer Paper   -  25%

Final Exam - 20%

Participation Rating - 10%


A deficient Husserl exam may be made up by supplementary reading in Existentialism verified by an oral interview.  A missed, late, or weak paper on Heidegger or Gadamer may be replaced by an oral or written exam over the unit.


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