nl en

Twentieth Century French Philosophy


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to:

  • BA students in Philosophy, who have successfully completed their first year, and who have also completed at least 10 EC’s of the mandatory components of their second year, including Political Philosophy, and Philosophy of Mind or Concepts of Selfhood.

  • Pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement, and for whom this course is part of their programme.


The course will follow the evolution of Merleau-Ponty’s political thinking from his early work of the late forties to 1959’s Signs. It will pay particular attention to the systematic unity between his theoretical thought and his political thought, Merleau-Ponty’s relations to Marxism, and his efforts to create a positive notion of political moderation.

Course objectives

This course aims to provide the students with a clear view of:

  • the trajectory of Merleau-Ponty’s political thought;

  • the context within which Merleau-Ponty’s political views arose;

  • the relations between Merleau-ponty’s theoretical philosophy and his political philosophy;

  • the relevance of Merleau-Ponty’s political thought for current debates.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • the legacy of post-Marxism for current political thinking;

  • the relations between phenomenology and political philosophy;

  • some important aspects of the relations between ethcis and philosophy.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • critically understand and interconnect Merleau-Ponty’s major political texts with each other and with those of Marx, Lukacs, Koestler, Lefort, Foucault and others;

  • present a consistent view of the problems that motivated Merleau-Ponty’s political thinking.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Oral or written reading report on a primary text and abstract (30%)

  • Abstract for final paper (5%)

  • Final paper on a question agreed in advance based on abstract submitted (65%)


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of the subtests (see above). A subtest can be graded as unsatisfactory.


The resit consists of one examination for all parts at once. No separate resits will be offered for mid-term tests. The resit will be a thoroughly demanding survey take-home exam covering the entirety of the course materials, and including a text commentary, a series of short questions and an argumentative essay. The mark will replace all previously earned marks for subtests.

Satisfactory completion of practical assignments (presentation,abstract) is a prerequisite for taking the resit.
Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

We will conduct the course in English, using Engish translations of Merleau-Ponty’s texts. The students are invited to acquaint themselves with the French whenever possible.

Merleau-Ponty’s texts:

  • Sense and Nonsense

  • Humanism and Terror

  • Adventures of the Dialectic

  • Signs

Secondary texts:

  • Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon

  • Gyorgy Lukacs, History and Class Consciousness


Enrolment through uSis for this course is not possible. Students are requested to submit their preferences for the third-year electives by means of an online registration form. They will receive the instruction and online registration form by email (uMail account); in June for courses scheduled in semester 1, and in December for courses scheduled in semester 2. Registration in uSis will be taken care of by the Education Administration Office.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the information bar at the right hand side of the page.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc., contact the Education Administration Office Huizinga


Not applicable.