Philosophy 420: Topics in 20th Century European Philosophy

Heidegger and Phenomenolgy 

Fall Semester 2005,
Michigan State University

Dr. Christian Lotz


Tentative Schedule (last UPDATE: November 03, 2009)

number Date Topic Reading Information Oral Present. General Assignments
1 Aug 30 Introduction no reading (prepare first section)      
2 Sep 1 What is Phenomenology? no reading (prepare first section)      
Basics of  Phenomenology (Husserl and Merleau-Ponty)
3 6 Perception Husserl, Analysis of Passive Synthesis (course packet), #1-2      
4 8 Perception Husserl, Analysis of Passive Synthesis (course packet), #3-4      
5 13 Intentionality Husserl, Ideas I (course packet), #27-32      
6 15 Intentionality Husserl, Ideas I (course packet), #33-46      
7 20 Epoche and Reduction Husserl, Ideas I (course packet), #33-46      
8 22 Redefining Perception Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, Preface      
9 27 Redefining Perception Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, Introduction, #1-2      
10 29 Redefining Perception Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, Introduction, #3-4      
Heidegger's Hermeneutic Transformation of Phenomenology
11 error error error error error  
12 Oct 4 Intentionality Heidegger, History of the Concept of Time, §5   Michael  
13 6 Intentionality Heidegger, History of the Concept of Time, §5      
14 11 The Task Heidegger, Being and Time, §3-5   Sam  
15 13 The Phenomenon Heidegger, Being and Time, §7   Wei EXAM 1 (pass/fail)
Being and Time: World
16 18 World Heidegger, History of the Concept of Time, §§18-20   Alan  
17 20 no class no class no class no class no class
18 25 no class no class no class no class no class
19 27 Descartes Heidegger, History of the Concept of Time, §§21-22   Andrew  
20 Nov 1 Environment Heidegger, History of the Concept of Time, §§23      
21 3 Environment Heidegger, History of the Concept of Time, §§23      
Being and Time: The Who
22 8 Self and Other Heidegger, Being and Time, §§25-27   David  
23 10 Self and Other Heidegger, Being and Time, §§25-27   David C. EXAM 2 (pass/fail)
Being and Time: The Hermeneutic Concept of Affectivity, Understanding, and Language
24 15 Affectivity Heidegger, Being and Time, §§28-30   Mark  
25 17 Understanding Heidegger, Being and Time, §§31-34   Trevor  
26 22 Language Heidegger, Being and Time, §§31-34   Paul  
27 24 no class no class no class no class no class
28 29 Language Heidegger, Being and Time, §§31-34   Justin  
29 Dec 1 review of class review of class      
In-class exam
30 6 Exam Exam Exam Exam Exam
31 8 Wrap Up Wrap Up Wrap Up Wrap Up Wrap Up
        Movie on Heidegger/Hoelderlin    


Class Meetings: 
Days: TTH 
Time: 10:20-12:10
Place: Engineering 2320

Phone: 517.353.9721
Place: 507 S. Kedzie Hall
Hours: TTH (1:00-2:00pm), by appointment and by phone

Exceptions: Oct 18, Oct 22

Other Contact:
Home Phone: 517.337.8524

(Please check the webpage regularily for the current schedule)

You will find my box in the front office of the philosophy department (and in front of my office)

Course Description:

We will closely study Heidegger’s masterpiece Being and Time and the concepts that it introduces, such as world, language, truth, death, and time. Given that Heidegger’s language is extremely difficult and requires a close reading and studying of the primary text, this close examination will be the primary focus of the class. In addition, and more generally, the class will introduce students to the main idea of phenomenology, as understood by Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Sartre. In more detail, we will begin the course by reflecting on the main idea of phenomenological philosophy. We will see that after encountering Husserl’s philosophy, Sartre emphatically announced the death of all traditional philosophy and celebrated phenomenology as the return from abstraction to the concrete world of human beings. We will try to understand Sartre’s enthusiasm by reading selected passages from Husserl’s Ideas I, after which we will discuss Heidegger’s transformation of Husserl’s basic ideas, which will be facilitated by reading the methodological sections in his The History of the Concept of Time, a lecture class that Heidegger held in Marburg briefly before Being and Time was published. While the lecture class is much more accessible than his masterwork, it introduces the same concepts. Finally, we will study the first half of Being and Time, by closely analyzing its main concepts. The syllabus, though carefully worked out, is open to students’ wishes and desired pace. In this connection, we will invest more time in certain sections of the course, if we discover that more time is needed.

Required Texts

  • Heidegger, Martin, Being and Time, translated by Macquarrie/Robinson, Harper San Francisco, ISBn: 0060638508
  • Heidegger, Martin, History of the Concept of Time, Paperback, Indiana University Press, ISBn: 0253207177
  • Stephen Mulhall, Heidegger and Being and Time, Paperback, Routledge, ISBn 0415100933

note: Please do not buy alternative translations! We should all have the same text.

Required Course Packet

There will be a course packet with brief selections of other texts concerning phenomenology in general (Husserl, Merleau-Ponty).

Secondary Literature

Heidegger's Being and Time is one of the main works of the last century. Due to its extreme language, commentaries on the text can be extremely helpful. Beside the mandatory text selected for class I I recommend the following texts:


  • Dreyfus, Hubert L., Being-in-the-world: a Commentary on Heidegger's Being and Time, division I, Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 1991 (easier to read, but not always appropriate)
  • Gelven, Michael, A Commentary on Heidegger's Being and Time, Dekalb, Ill.: northern Illinois University Press, 1989 (closer to Heidegger's text)


  • Moran, Dermot, Introduction to Phenomenology, London; new York: Routledge, 2000 (brief chapters on phenomenology and main phenomenological thinkers)
  • Safranski, Rüdiger, Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil; translated by Ewald Osers, Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1998 (beautifully written biography/account of Heidegger's life and work)
  • Kisiel, Theodore J., The Genesis of Heidegger's Being and Time, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993 (standard text that gives an overview of Heidegger's development before Being and Time)
  • Tugendhat, Ernst, Self-consciousness and Self-determination; translated by Paul Stern, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1986 (contains three beautiful lectures on Heidegger, very clear)

Course Organization

The course will be organized such that, ideally, each class period will include [i] "interactive" lecture, [ii] oral presentations (group assignment, active learning part I) or [iii] either discussion time (active learning part II) [iv] or group assignments (active learning part III). Students will be asked to [a] read a certain text or part of a text for the next class period and [b] give oral presentations (group presentations).

Course Requirements

  • Oral presentation
  • In-class essay exam
  • Class essay
  • Daily slow reading and studying (around 5 pages)

Class Attendance

I hope and strongly encourage that students attend all classes. However, I will not require attendance, as I think that college students should manage their own class attendance decisions. nevertheless, please be aware that you should not make me responsible for a failure that results out of your decision.

Response Sheets

Every student is asked to submit up to 5 oral presentation reponse sheets during the semester.

Click here to download the response sheet for extra credit (Word document, I will only accept answers that are given on this form)

The response sheets have to be submitted at the end of a class session. I do not accept late turn ins. Submission is voluntary.


Students who do not actively participate in class will not loose points. I would like to foster an open class atmosphere, in which every participants can express his/her thoughts freely, that is to say, without judgmental pressure.

Tests (added on Oct 7)

There  will be 2 tests, which will test whether you prepared the readings and reflected on key concepts introduced in class. The tests are pass/fail tests, and each test counts ten points. Consequently, failing a test will bring your grade down by 10 percent.

In Class Essay Exam

There  will be one exam, in which I will raise two questions about the (difficult) readings, which focus on your comprehension. The first question asks for an explanation of a quote, the second question deals with a broader issue that we discussed in class. You must choose one topic (out of three).

Class Paper

Every paper must contain a writer's and an editor's checklist. Papers must be submitted in class and by email (either Rich Text Format or MS Word). Every student has an "editor" (who is a student in this class!) who reads and evaluates the paper before it is turned in. Writing is a process and it is hoped that students will revise papers as well as critically explore and reflect on their own writing. I will mark down papers that do not contain a writer's and an editor's checklist.  I do not expect long research papers; rather I expect explanation papers, which show evidence that you are able to read closely and understand the issues in question.

Essay Topic

The topic of the essay must be selected from the following list:

  • The Concept of World in Heidegger's The History of the Concept of Time

  • The Concept of Intentionality in Heidegger and Husserl

  • The Concept of World in Heidegger's Being and Time

  • The Concept of Reality in Heidegger's Being and Time

  • The Concept of Truth in Heidegger's Being and Time

  • The Concept of Understanding in Heidegger's Being and Time

  • Heidegger's Concept of Phenomenology and Hermeneutics (and their relation)

  • What is Phenomenology?

  • Phenomenological Analysis of Perception in Husserl and Merleau-Ponty

Reviewing (Editor's and Writer's Checklist)

Click here to download the editor's and writer's checklist (Word document)

Oral Presentations

a) Handout
The oral presentations must in principle be about the readings for class. Every team, which gives a short presentation, must submit (to the class) a detailed handout one class before the presentation is given, otherwise the team looses points. The handout must contain [i] a two page paper with detailed explanations of selected points of your presentation/text plus [ii] one page with an outline of your presentation/text. A mere outline is not sufficient. The handout must be 3 pages and it should help us to prepare our class sessions. I will mark down every handout that does not include a two page paper.

b) Presentation
The oral presentation assignment is twofold: first give a presentation and then lead into a discussion on the topics of your presentation. The purpose of the assignment is (i) to give you practice in public speaking, (ii) to give you a chance to pick the topics that deserve class time, (iii) to share your research with the whole class and not just me, and (iv) to raise consciousness about the dynamics and difficulties of a good discussion. If past evaluations are any guide, even students who don't enjoy speaking in front of others, or who do so poorly —perhaps especially such students— are glad of the opportunity to practice. The presentation should offer a reading of the text for that day. To offer a reading is to take a stand on what the author is saying, and how the author argues it, not merely to point out the presence of certain themes, to ask certain questions, or to give your own views on the same topics. Your presentation should take up to 15-20 minutes. During this time, you should do all the talking. Wait until you're finished to ask the class questions and lead discussion. note: do not try to present everything. Choose your issues carefully, and try to explain these in depth. In addition, I am interested in evaluating how you work as a team/group. Oral presentations are group work!

General Remark on Assignments

The handouts of the presentations as well as the response sheets will in and outside of the classroom force us to have an ongoing reflection on our texts that we read in class. In addition, the assignments will help to prepare the exam. Reading and studying the primary texts is the absolute focus of this class. If you carefully read the texts, then you will easily master the exam.

Course Evaluation

You will be evaluated on the basis of (changed on Oct 7):

5 response sheets 10 points
1 oral presentation 25 points
2 pass/fail tests 20 points
1 in-class essay exam 20 points
1 class paper 25 points
  100 points


4.0 99 – 90
3.5 8589
3 8084
2.5 7579
2 70 – 74
1.5 6569
1.0 6064
0.0 < 60

GENERIC SYLLABUS (might not be applicable to each class)

Grading Criteria

Click here to see my grading criteria for oral presentations
Click here to see my grading criteria for papers
Click here to see an EXAMPLE of my grading criteria for final essay exams (taken from an older class)

Helpful information about oral presentations, paper writing and plagiarism

Click here to find help on your presentations and your writing

Online Research Sources

Unfortunately, some people think that the internet as such is a reliable source of information. If you decide to use online sources for additional information or your paper then do not just use one of the common internet search engines, such as Google; rather, use reliable academic sources, such as Britannica Online, or the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The Internet Ecyclopedia of Philosophy isn't very good, but still acceptable. Check out MSU's library resources! And, as with other sources, you must cite any online sources to which you refer in your essay.

Writing Center Information

MSU's writing center offers excellent help on all matters regarding writing and learning. Check the website at for an overview and hours. For more information, please call 517.432.3610 or send an e-mail to


In any essay or exam answer submitted for assessment, all passages taken from other people's work must be placed within quotation marks, with specific reference to author, title and page. no excuse can be accepted for any failure to do so, nor will inclusion of the source in a bibliography be considered inadequate acknowledgement. If the marker decides that plagiarism has occurred, the student may be judged to have failed the class.

Academic Honesty

Article 2.3.3 of the Academic Freedom Report states that "The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards." In addition, the (insert name of unit offering course) adheres to the policies on academic honesty as specified in General Student Regulations 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations. (See Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide and/or the MSU Web site: Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit course work completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course. Also, you are not authorized to use the Web site to complete any course work in (insert course number here). Students who violate MSU rules may receive a penalty grade, including but not limited to a failing grade on the assignment or in the course. Contact your instructor if you are unsure about the appropriateness of your course work. (See also

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities:

Students with disabilities should contact the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities to establish reasonable accommodations. For an appointment with a counselor, call 353-9642 (voice) or 355-1293 (TTY

Drops and Adds

The last day to add this course is the end of the first week of classes. The last day to drop this course with a 100 percent refund and no grade reported is (insert date). The last day to drop this course with no refund and no grade reported is (insert date). You should immediately make a copy of your amended schedule to verify you have added or dropped this course.

Note on Attendance

Students whose names do not appear on the official class list for this course may not attend this class. Students who fail to attend the first four class sessions or class by the fifth day of the semester, whichever occurs first, may be dropped from the course.

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