Philosophy + Politics Now module (PI32024)

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Module code


The module will select a number of case studies in which prominent recent and contemporary (20th and 21st century) philosophers in the continental European tradition have intervened in political debates and issues. These philosophers may include figures such as:

  • Martin Heidegger,
  • Jean-Paul Sartre,
  • Michel Foucault,
  • Theodore W. Adorno,
  • Hannah Arendt,
  • Jürgen Habermas,
  • Jean-François Lyotard,
  • Jean Baudrillard,
  • Gilles Deleuze,
  • Gianni Vattimo,
  • Slavoj Zizek,
  • Jacques Rancière,
  • Bernard Stiegler,
  • Giorgio Agamben,
  • Alain Badiou

And so on.

Issues selected may range from major world-historical events such as the Shoah (Holocaust) or September 11, general political ideologies such as liberalism and communism, the politics of identity and the politics of difference (including issues of race, sexuality, and culture), current events, or specific pieces of proposed legislation. With each case study, we will begin with the relevant text(s) of the philosopher in question, work back to contextualise it in the philosophers’ wider ideas, and use it to reflect on the relations between politics and philosophy implied in the philosopher’s intervention. We will introduce the students to some of the ways in which philosophers have intervened in public political debates, and to use these as a springboard for reflection on the relationship between politics and philosophy. Rather than focusing on ‘political philosophy’ as traditionally conceived (i.e. as pure theory), the module will examine the relation between philosophical thought and political events and actions in the ‘real world.’ By the end of the module, students should have an understanding of various positions on the relation between politics and philosophy, as well as an awareness of some recent and contemporary philosophers’ political ideas. This will in turn allow students to become more adept at applying their own critical reasoning to current political issues, and to better understand their powers and responsibilities as citizens. 



100% coursework 

  • 1 x Textual Commentary - 40%  
  • 1 x Essay - 60%