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: AP2161C (Approved)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 2

Unit discipline: Philosophy

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

Show when this unit is running

Learning outcomes


Identify the key concepts informing postmodern thought studied in the unit


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


Articulate the significance of the postmodern project for understanding contemporary culture


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

Unit sequence

AP2161C: 30 points of philosophy at first level


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 (%)

2,000-word essay

0 50.0
Written Examination

1-hour written examination

0 20.0

two 500-word seminar papers

0 30.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 1 Nov, 2017

Unit record last updated: 2019-02-01 09:48:53 +1100