crc  .  syllabi collection  .  alumni syllabi  .  philosophy  .

   Course Title    Philosophy of the XXth Century
Lecturer    Aliya Massalimova
Institution    Al Farabi Kazakh State National University
Country    Kazakhstan

This part of History of Philosophy, according to the curriculum for the students of the Department of Philosophy, is studied during 3 semesters (for the students of 4-5 years) and is given at our University by several teachers. This course consists of 3 equal parts: I - before the beginning of 1930s; II - from 1930s to the middle of 1960s; III - from the end of 1960s to present, and it is divided between teachers according to these periods.

I decided to change this approach and to consider the logic of the development of philosophical thought from another point of view. From the variety of trends and philosophical schools in the Western Philosophy of the XX century one can distinguish 2 general branches:

  • first - positivistic schools where general questions were the problems of a scientific theory difference from non-scientific concepts, "myths of the XX century", scientific knowledge development, etc.
  • second - humanitarian-anthropological trend its general question being the problem of sense of human life, place of man in the modern world.

According to my scientific interests, I considered the second trend while developing the course. Studying of the Modern Western Philosophy is a necessary stage of studying Philosophy. Thus, I consider the general aim of the course as an objective reflection of the main trends of philosophical thought development in the context of historical events, social and cultural situations and the modern achievements of science and technology of the XX. century. The aim can be achieved with the solution of the following tasks:

  1. To define the particularities, variety and specifics of Western-European Philosophy from the middle of the XIX. c. to XX. c. To define contradictions of tendencies and main transition stages from the classical philosophy to the non-classical and post-classical ones.
  2. To master new conceptions and terms for deeper and full comprehending, adequate notion and right understanding of historical-philosophical process.
  3. To show the idea evolution, dynamic unity, internal logic of the personal development of the thinkers of this period and the trend or school he represented, in general.
  4. To draw near original philosophical texts to the students.
  5. Students, studying the mentioned part of History of Philosophy, are required:

  1. to know previous history of philosophy, main stages of the philosophical thought development, types of philosophy;
  2. to operate with philosophical notions and categories, to know general conceptual connections of the historical-philosophical process;
  3. to read the authors in origin;
  4. to receive the skills of self-analysis of philosophical texts and thinker’s position;
  5. to be able to prepare articles, papers, essays and course works.

Connections with other disciplines: This course closely relates to fundamental courses of History of Philosophy - Philosophy of the XIX Century, History of Dialectics, to the courses of History of Social and Political Studies, to other social and humanitarian disciplines.

Methods of Pedagogical Approach: discussions, round tables and preparing of essay.

Introduction: Sociocultural situation, features of the political tendencies and main features of the development of philosophical thought of the XX. century. The main schools, directions, specificity of the problems and their typology in the philosophy of XX. century.

Theme I: Phenomena and Phenomenology of Movement

1. Phenomenology of E. Husserl.

E.Husserl (1859-1938); the idealized sources of his doctrine. A critic of psycologism and relativism in the logician, an attempt of philosophy forming as "stringent science". A method of phenomenological reduction. The theory of knowledge of Husserl. Intuitionalism of Husserl and his doctrine about the truth. "Crisis of the European sciences", struggle against rationalism and objectivism in science.

2. Movement from Phenomenology to Existentialism.

Naturalistic meanings of phenomenology by M. Ferber (U.S.). Main representatives of late phenomenology (R. Ingarden, Fink, L. Landgrebe). "Phenomenology of Perception" by M. Merlo-Ponti, phenomenological sociology of A. Schutz, modern existential phenomenology in U.S. - J. Aidi, M. Natanson, J. Idi and others. The role of phenomenological ideas in the modern logical-methodological research in the West.

Theme II: Philosophy of Existence. Kierkegaard as the Precursor of Existentialism

1.Existentialism of Heidegger.

M. Heidegger. Phenomenological method by Husserl and by Heidegger. The structure of human being and the main categories of existentialism by Heidegger. "Existence" and "existentsia". The problem of finality and historicity of human being. General periods of the philosophical evolution of Heidegger. Heidegger and "metaphysics". The problem of language, philosophy and poetry. Interpretation of the technics. The problem of germenevtics. Religion and mythology, the problem of "godless".

2. Existentialism of Jaspers.

Philosophical system of Jaspers. The conceipt of the "world", the "existentia", the "transcendency". A problem of freedom. Definition of the "problematic situation". Reason, existentia and "amplectant". The communications. A problem of truth. Philosophy of history and its religious nature.

3. Existential ideas of Sartre and Camus.

Existentialism of J.P. Sartre and his evalution. Phenomenological ontology of Sartre and his main conceipts: "in - life"; conceipt of "nothing". The ethical doctrine, Sartre about "freedom".

Attitude to Marxism. "The critic of dialectic reason" and deviation from existentialism. Impact of existentialism in the art literature and art. The conceipt of Camus. The conceipt of nonsense. The idea of senselessness of existence. The conceipt of the rebelling person, social sense of the doctrine of Camus.

4. Religion existentialism of G. Marcel.

The man as the unity of the spirit and body. Notion of wisdom. The problem of martyrness and art. Real and unreal existence. The problems of philosophy and history.

5. Existentialism of Ortega y Gasset.

Critics of the concept of classical rationalism and determinism. Connection between philosophical ideas of Ortega y Gasset and philosophy of existentialism and philosophy of life. "Pure mind" in his interpretation. The problem of perspectivism, truth in the science and culture.

Theme III: Intuitivism of A. Bergson

Philosophical knowledge and its meanings. The conceipt of intuition. Knowledge and activity. Correlation and interrelation of the conceipts of "life", "spirit", "substance". The problem of relations of subjective and objective. The conceipt of "zoetic path" and its role.

Theme IV: The Problem of Man in Psychoanalitical Aspect

1. S. Freud.

Evolution of Freud’s ideas. Psychology and Psychiatry. Psychoanalysis and its meaning. Personality and its structure. Conscious and unconscious in the structure of personality. Culture in the Freud’s interpretation.

2. Freudism and Neo-Freudism.

"Individual psychology" by Adler. Theory of collective unconscious by K. Jung. The problem of human existence by Fromm: negative "freedom from" and positive "freedom for" in the process of personality development.

Theme V: Cultural Anthropology.

M. Scheler. Philosophical anthropology, axiology and sociology of science. Material ethics of values. Connection with phenomenology of Gusserl. Dualism of ideal and non-ideal being.

Theme VI: Philosophy and Theology

Modernization tendencies in theological traditions at representatives of different confessions. General principles and notions of neo-tomism. Social-cultural ideal of J. Maritain. Increasing influence of neo-protestantism in 1940-60. Activization of pravoslaviye in 1980-90.

Theme VII: Structuralism and post-modernism: evolution of the problem, representatives.

1. K. Levi-Strauss. Influence of Marxism, Psychoanalysis onto the Levi-Strauss’s philosophy. Notion of reality and super-rationality. Social-historical ideas: structural anthropology and structural history.

2. M. Foucalt. The idea of "archaeology of knowledge", its functions. Notion of genealogy. General problems of the work "Words and Things". Foucalt about connection between the language being and the thing being.

Theme VIII: Post-Structuralism

Philosophy of J. Derrida. Notion, meaning and functions of "deconstruction". Text and its structure and functions in the interpretation of Derrida. His influence on post-modern ideas of the 2 half of the XX century.

Theme IX: Hermeneutics in the XX Century

The problem of understanding in the philosophy of H. Gadamer. Interpretation of literature legacy as the general problem of hermeneutics. Notion of the "hermeneutics cycle".

Theme X: Social-Philosophical Ideas of the Frankfurt School

General stages of the development and representatives. T. W-Adorno, H. Marcuse, M. Horkheimer. From the "revolutionism" to the anarchical negation of any civilization. "One-measure man" by Marcuse. Negative dialectics of W-Adorno.

Note: We use necessary literature for the course, published in Russian. Thus I enclosed the list of literature in Russian without translation. I’ll recommend my students and use at my lectures the literature, purchased at the library of CEU.



Requried (published in Russian):

Download the reading list in Microsoft Word format here.


  1. Twentieth Century Analytic Philosophy. Avrum Stroll. Columbia University Press. N-York, 2000. – 302 p.
  2. The Deleuze Connections. John Raichman. The MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England, - 2000. – 167 p.
  3. Explaining Culture. A Naturalistic Approach. Dan Sperber. Blackwell Publishers, USA, 1998. – 175 p.
  4. Edward Fullbrock and Kate Fullbrock. Simone de Beauvoir. A Cultural Introduction. Polity Press, USA, 1998. – 177 p.
  5. The Oxford Paperback Dictionary. Fourth Edition. 4000 Entries on People and Places. The World’s Most Trusted Dictionaries. Editor: Elaine Pollard. Oxford University Press, 2000.
  6. John Rawls. Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy. Edited by Barbara Herman. Harvard University Press, 2000. – 384 p.
  7. The Blackwell Companion to Philosophy. Edited by Nicholas Bunnin and E.P. Marsa. USA, 1998. – 786 p.
  8. Researching Society and Culture. Edited by Elive Scale. SAGE Publications, London – New Delhi, 2000. – 349 p.
  9. Sociology. The Central Questions. William Kornblum. USA, 1997. – 455 p.

   crc  .  syllabi collection  .  alumni syllabi  .  philosophy  .