Metaphysics and Philosopical Anthropology
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleFTR-FIPPSB104
Credits (ECTS)5
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies; Opleiding Filosofie;
dr. A. Dufourcq
Other course modules lecturer
dr. A. Dufourcq
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. A. Dufourcq
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2022
SEM2  (30/01/2023 to 03/09/2023)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
After completing this course, you:
  • will be familiar with central topics, theories, and concepts in contemporary metaphysical debates;
  • will have an overview of the link between these philosophical debates and contemporary environmental, political, and epistemological problems;
  • will be able to read, analyze, and comment upon philosophical texts, as well as to publicly present and discuss them;
  • can explain key philosophical theories and their main arguments in your own words, and formulate your own position.
New Ontologies for Mutable Worlds

In the wake of the so-called crisis of reason and modernity at the end of the XIXth century and in first half of the XXth, a certain classical ontological paradigm has been called into question. In the light of a critical and deconstructive reading of Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hobbes, and Kant among many others, it has been claimed that the Western culture and the rationalist tradition developed a discriminatory ontology that enabled them to dismiss ambiguity, processes, and hybrids of all kinds (for instance: theory/practice, body/soul, nature/culture, real/imaginary, and science/politics) as illusionary and not worthy of the name "being". But beings are not so easily categorizable; many challenging phenomena and issues were persistent thorns in the side of Western philosophies (for instance: are we humans or animals? How can the body and the mind be connected? Is science politically neutral?). 

In this course we will:
  • take a critical perspective on representative texts from the Western rationalist tradition and question their ontological premises: what is the worldview that they sustain? What are their blind spots? In what measure is their conceptual pattern still influential nowadays?
  • Study primary texts from the contemporary continental tradition that analyzed and criticized or deconstructed modern ontologies, and proposed alternative approaches (for instance: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Derrida, Foucault, Latour, and Haraway).
  • Examine the implications of these debates for some of the most salient contemporary environmental, political, and epistemological issues.

Presumed foreknowledge

Test information


Required materials
All texts will be made available on Brightspace The following texts will be studied in class, but a preliminary reading at home before class is required. Guiding reading questions will be posted on Brightspace: be prepared to answer these questions in class. Reading assignments should be completed before you come to class on the day the assignment is listed. - Plato, Phaedo and The Republic (excerpts) - Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern, p.1-3 - Robert Musil, The Man without Qualities (Excerpts) - Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “The war has taken place” (Excerpts) - René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy (I and II) - Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (§16&17) - Michel Foucault History of Madness in the Classical Age (Excerpt p.44-47) - Martin Heidegger, Being and Time (excerpts) - Vincianne Despret Body we care for (excerpt) - Haraway When Species meet (excerpt)

Instructional modes

Test weight1
Test typePaper
OpportunitiesBlock SEM2, Block SEM2