Recommended reading

General philosophical background

  • For a first approach:
    Simon Critchley's Continental Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (2001)
  • For background on the German tradition:
    Terry Pinkard, German Philosophy 1760-1860: The Legacy of Idealism (2002), and then Andrew Bowie, Introduction to German Philosophy: From Kant to Habermas (2003)
  • For background on the French tradition:
    Gary Gutting, French Philosophy in the Twentieth Century (2001), or Eric Matthews, Twentieth-Century French Philosophy (1996)


Relatively brief and accessible texts by some of the authors who will figure prominently on your course include:

Aesthetics and Art Theory MA

In addition to the Pinkard and Bowie (above), and along with making a start on the set texts for the modules you'll be taking in the autumn, the two most useful textbooks are Kai Hammermeister, The German Aesthetic Tradition (2002) and Peter Osborne (ed.), From an Aesthetic Point of View: Philosophy, Art and the Senses (2000). Jacques Rancière's Politics and Aesthetics (2006) and Jean-Luc Nancy's The Muses (1996) are both concise and significant.

Modern European Philosophy MA

After reading the Pinkard (above), and along with making a start on the set texts for the modules you'll be taking in the autumn, the best way to prepare for the MA is to do some background reading on Kant and Hegel.

A good general book on Kant is Otfried Höffe, Immanuel Kant (1994); Gilles Deleuze, Kant's Critical Philosophy (1984) is concise and important. Ernst Cassirer's biography, Kant's Life and Thought (1981) provides a good overview of his life and work.

H.S. Harris' Hegel: Phenomenology and System (1995) provides a clear introduction to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit; the best biography of Hegel is by Terry Pinkard (2001).

Philosophy and Contemporary Critical Theory MA

In addition to the Pinkard (above), and along with making a start on the set texts for the modules you'll be taking in the autumn, there are a number of useful overviews of Critical Theory, including Rolf Wiggershaus, The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories, and Political Significance (1994) and Martin Jay, The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923-1950 (1973/1996).

On French anti-humanism, structuralism and poststructuralism, in addition to the Gutting (above), you could look at: Mark Poster, Critical Theory and Poststructuralism (1989); Jürgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (1987), and Axel Honneth, The Critique of Power (1991).

Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP)