Summer School 2017 Distance Enrolment

Eight philosophy short-courses taught in Melbourne, Jan - Feb.

The Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy is proud to present the Summer School 2017 curriculum for distance enrolment.  As always significant discounts apply for those enrolling in multiple courses. If you have any questions which aren't in our FAQs please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Distance Enrolment means that you will have access to both online readings and audio recordings of the lectures.  The courses are not specifically designed as an audio only format; the audio files are simply recordings of the lectures as they are given, including class discussion.  Lectures are uploaded sporadically during the course, so please be patient once you have enrolled.  Distance enrolment and access to the online recordings/readings remains open for a few weeks after the courses have concluded.  If you have any questions about distance enrolment or questions to be forwarded to the lecturers please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

When: 9 Jan - 17 Feb, 2017

Where: Kathleen Syme Centre, cnr Faraday and Cardigan st. Carlton & 1888 Building UniMelb.

ks 1888 map
Show Kathleen Syme Centre in Google Maps


Courses Waged Unwaged
1 $120 $80
2 $180 $120
3 $210 $140
4+ $240 $160

Distance Enrol Only:
Enrol Now



Summer School Programme

2 hours per week for 5 weeks

Mon 6.30-8.30pm
Starting 9 Jan
Ecstasis, memory, otherness - Phenomenologies of Time
Lecturer: Dr Marilyn Stendera
Tues 6.30-8.30pm
Starting 10 Jan
Modern Poetry: a philosophical introduction
Lecturer: Dr Mark Hewson
Wed 6.30-8.30pm
Starting 11 Jan
Strange Educations: Loyola, Rousseau, de Sade & Fourier
Lecturer: Dr AJ Bartlett
Thurs 6.30-8.30pm
Starting 12 Jan
Shame: A Philosophical Exploration
Lecturer: Sergio Mariscal

2 hours per day for 5 days

13-17 Feb
Themes from Heidegger’s Introduction to Metaphysics
Lecturer: Emily Hughes
13-17 Feb
Philosophies of Self-Formation: Technologies of Self for the 21st Century
Lecturer: Matthew Dennis
13-17 Feb
Potentialities and Virtualities: Meillassoux on Mathematics, Literature, and Justice
Lecturer: Christian R. Gelder
13-17 Feb
Phenomenology and the Visual Arts
Lecturer: Dr Graham Jones


Course Descriptions

Ecstasis, memory, otherness – Phenomenologies of Time

Lecturer: Dr Marilyn Stendera

Schedule: 6.30-8.30pm. 5 Mondays starting January 9

Location: Multipurpose room 2, Kathleen Syme Centre.

Time is at the heart of phenomenology. Reflections about the nature of temporality weave a bright trail through the diverse projects that comprise the phenomenological tradition. For many of its participants – as well as thinkers more loosely associated with the discourse – time is a vital part of what makes us who we are, as well as always more than we are. To be human means to have an ineluctable past and a future that is as radically open as its final ending is certain. Thinking about time means thinking about the very conditions that make our experience possible; about the difference between the time of our lives and the time of our clocks; about remembrance, history, choice and mortality; about what it means to be social, to join others in the intertwining of memory and anticipation.

In this course, we will pick up the thread of temporality and follow it through the history of phenomenological thought, exploring the roles – both starring and supporting – that it has played in the work of the tradition’s key figures as well as thinkers more loosely but nonetheless meaningfully associated with the tradition. Tracing out this significant but often underappreciated concern will give us a way of contextualising the connections and disparities between the different conceptions of phenomenology. The way that phenomenologists have engaged with our experience of and in time offers us a distinctive perspective from which to explore what they can tell us about meaning, finitude, sociality, possibility and death.

Course Schedule

Lecture 1: Opening up the problem of time: James, Brentano, Bergson

After briefly introducing some key themes and thinkers, the first couple of lectures will look at three accounts that shaped how the problems associated with time and time-consciousness would be discussed in the 20th century. Bergson, Brentano and James set the scene for us by highlighting how puzzling and important our experience of continuity is, and by problematizing the notion of the simple instant or now.


  • Bergson, “Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness”
  • Brentano, “On What is Continuous” and “On the Measure of What is Continuous”, selections 1
  • 2 in Philosophical Investigations on Space, Time and the Continuum
  • W. James, “The Perception of Time”, Ch. 15 of The Principles of Psychology

Lecture 2: Husserl: Time and intentionality

According to Husserl, time – our experience of and in it; its role in shaping and enabling consciousness – constitutes one of the most “important and difficult of all phenomenological problems” (On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time). For Husserl, consciousness is intentional, and intentionality is temporal. These lectures will explore what this means, providing an overview of what remains one of the most influential accounts of time-consciousness.


  • Husserl, §1-2 and 7-33 of Part A, “Lectures on the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time”, On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time

Lecture 3: Heidegger: Ecstasis, history, death

For the early Heidegger, the temporality that makes us what we are – purposive, historical, social, mortal – is ecstatic, an ever-dynamic erupting towards a horizon. This bursting outwards of the entangled past-present-future that structures every aspect of our experience is what enables us to be in the world; it is reflected in and shaped by our capacity for authenticity, by our finitude, by the inevitability and incomprehensibility of death. We will discuss the conception of temporality that Heidegger sets out in Being and Time and contemporaneous works, with a focus on recovering the importance of time to understanding this period’s model of Dasein.


  • Heidegger, §65, 67-71 (and, if possible, §48-53), Being and Time

Lecture 4: Sartre and Merleau-Ponty: Being and perception

This part of the course sees us turning towards the French tradition, broadening our scope to engage with thinkers whose work is less obviously part of, but nonetheless influenced by and important to, the phenomenological discourse. The first two lectures in this section will explore Sartre’s often-overlooked reflections on the temporal relations of the for-itself and in-itself, as well as Merleau-Ponty’s cryptic, poetic meditations about time, perception and subjectivity.


  • Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “Temporality”, part 3/section 2 of The Phenomenology of Perception
  • Sartre, “Temporality”, part 2/section 2 of Being and Nothingness

Lecture 5: Levinas/ Beauvoir: The Other and the instant and The time of our lives; Concluding reflections

Here, we will survey the complex, often-elusive role that temporality plays in the work of Levinas. Problematizing previous phenomenologies of time, and rejecting Heidegger’s ecstatic model, Levinas reconceptualises the nature of the instant, transcendence and memory within the framework of alterity. Temporality is, he suggests, radically shaped and transformed by the dimensions of the encounter with the Other. To conclude we will discuss Beauvoir’s philosophy of temporality, focusing on her discussions of the relationship between time, embodiment, gender, labour and age. We will explore both her non-fictional and fictional text to draw out her rich, complex conception of what it means to live in and against time, especially in an unequal world. The lecture will conclude with a few reflections on the course.


  • Levinas, “On the Way to Time”, from Existence and Existents;
  • “The Infinity of Time”, section G in Totality and Infinity
  • “Time and Discourse”, section 3/chapter 2 in Otherwise Than Being or Beyond Essence
  • Beauvoir, “The discovery and assumption of old age” and “Time, activity history”, Ch. 5-6 in The Coming of Age “The Present and the Future”, from Ethics of Ambiguity
  • She Came to Stay (novel)


Modern Poetry: a philosophical introduction

Lecturer: Dr Mark Hewson

Schedule: 6.30-8.30pm. 5 Tuesdays starting January 10

Location: Multipurpose room 2, Kathleen Syme Centre.

This course will present an introduction to three modern poets – Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Mallarme – and discuss the idea of "modern poetry" in general. In particular, it will develop a framework for reading the poetry by discussing contemporary discourse on modernity. This has been a key term in philosophy, social theory and other disciplines in the last 20 years or so. The question of modernity concerns the inner connections linking the decline of religious belief, the emergence of the rights of the individual and the freedom of critical reason as well as infrastructural developments such as industrial capitalism and urbanization – all the factors, in other words, that distinguish our present-day mode of life. The course will consider the poets studied as working out the consequences of this mode of life for poetry and art.

The three poets to be studied here have been a constant reference in the movements practising a modern poetry which have appeared in very many countries in the 20th century. These movements have often been in close relation to political radicalization and philosophical thought – above all, when philosophy has separated itself from the hegemony of reason and logic. This proximity has therefore to be considered to be part of the phenomenon of modern poetry. Modern poetry, in other words, is not just a field of literary history, like others: its interpretation is also a philosophical topic, and it has figured as such in the thought of Heidegger, Benjamin, Adorno, Derrida, Blanchot, Badiou, Rancière and others. In reading the poets, this course will prepare the way for an engagement with the philosophical discourse on modern poetry.

Each lecture will be divided into two parts: in the first hour, we will study key poems from each of the poets: in the second, we will study historical and philosophical reflections on modern poetry. There will also be some discussion of the concept of modernity.

The syllabus lists works to be discussed by each of the poets: some will be studied in detail, others referred to more quickly, so if students are advised to read along in advance, if they can.

All texts will be read and discussed in English, with occasional comments on points of translation.  At some point, it becomes necessary to read poets in their own language, but it is possible to get somewhere working with translations (certainly further than one gets by not reading them at all) – especially if the aim is less on poetic appreciation per se and more to think about the idea of modern poetry and modernity


  • (from The Flowers of Evil)
  • To The Reader; Correspondances; Hymn to Beauty; The Carcass; Spiritual Dawn; The Flask; Poison; Invitation to the Voyage; Spleen 1, IV; Obsession; The Swan; The Damned Women; Abel and Cain; Death of the Paupers; Destruction; Dream of a Curious Person; The Voyage; The Gulf (Le Gouffre)
  • (from Poems in Prose)
  • The Double Room; Crowds; The Eyes of the Poor; Loss of Halo


  • “The Letter of the seer”
  • A Season in Hell


  • Selected letters (from 1864-1868)
  • Poetry: The Azure, Renewal, Herodiade, Funeral Toast, With the sole care to voyage (Au seul souci de voyager), A Lace is abolished (Une dentelle s'abolit)
  • Prose poems: The demon of analogy, Spectacle Interrupted, Glory.
  • Prose: Sketched at the Theatre, Crisis of Verse, Music and Letters, Restricted Action, The Book: Spiritual Instrument

Historical and Philosophical Texts

The second part of each lecture will be devoted to historical studies on modern poetry and philosophical reflections on modernity. Some of these texts are very substantial, and the discussions will necessarily be selective. The aim will be to draw upon these texts in order to develop a working concept of modern poetry.

1. Arthur Symons, The Symbolist Movement in Literature
Paul de Man, “The Double Aspect of Symbolism” in Yale French Studies, 1988.
Jürgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity.

2. Walter Benjamin, “On some motifs in Baudelaire”
Jürgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity.

3. Martin Heidegger, “What are Poets For?”, in Poetry, Language, Thought.
Paul Bénichou, The Consecration of the Writer 1750-1830; Selon Mallarmé.

4.Georges Bataille, “Letter to René Char”
Maurice Blanchot, The Space of Literature (especially ch 7, “Literature and the original experience”); “The Disappearance of Literature”, in The Book to Come.

5. Alain Badiou, “The Age of the Poets”, Manifesto for Philosophy
Marcel Gauchet, The Disenchantment of the world (“Conclusion”, on the aesthetic).

Additional Reading:

  • Marcel Raymond, From Baudelaire to Surrealism. Joanna Richardson, The Bohemians: La Vie Bohème in Paris, 1830-1914.


By Transmission. Strange Educations: Loyola, Rousseau, de Sade & Fourier

Lecturer: Dr A. J. Bartlett

Schedule: 6-30-8.30pm. 5 Wednesdays starting January 11.

Location Multipurpose room 2, Kathleen Syme Centre.

Today, education is formalised in institutions and oriented in its arrangement, curriculum and delivery by the demands and priorities of the ‘state’ – economically, first, and socially and culturally thereafter. Formalised as it is, it is the predominant means of social reproduction. This reproduction is however not free of antagonism and this is in fact immanent to the process. Education must transform its subject into one capable of social reproduction – of being in its desires, beliefs and actions in accord with the demands of the state. However, that a subject capable of being ignorant of such demands must be presumed points to a knowledge of this demand that is not that of this state as such – an other knowledge exists, even if it is just in the form of the ignorance of the correct forms of social reproduction.

Furthermore, transformation is itself inherently unstable for it by no means means only the transformation of ignorance into knowledge – a questionable ethic itself – in the form of the demand of social reproduction. Transformation can also mean the transformation of these social relations themselves. In this sense, education aims at (the existence of) something beyond or despite or other than the demands of the state for social reproduction. Hence the everywhere evident desperation of states today to make sure that no such knowledge of transformation remains over in their formalisation of education. This is what is known as reform – the contest in ways to make this knowledge (of transformation) unknown.

If we understand that this antagonism is inherent to education, we can also understand that the history of the present form of education is a divided one: in the double sense that there is no linear progress in its concept or practice that today’s version realises; rather it is the outcome of a concerted struggle over its constitution and institution. Moreover, and hence it being a site of this struggle, education is always already that which threatens to undo the very knowledge of it at any given time in its history. That's to say, to be the means of the transformation of social relations as such and hence the means of the invention of a new subject.

With this immanent division or antagonism setting the scene – the content of the first lecture –this course looks at four ‘strange educators’ who in some strange way make up the history of our present education: Ignatius of Loyola, D.A. F. de Sade, J-J. Rousseau and Charles Fourier. These four are strange in terms of the ways they organise, force, formalise and transmit this division between what we can call ‘the pedagogy of the world as it goes’ and its de-realisation through transformation itself. In a certain sense, each in their own way – sometimes absolutely different from each other, sometimes in strange accord – seek to formalise the ‘free’ ignorance of the subject vis a vis the demands of social reproduction as the very basis of what is for them a true education.  Thus to be truly educated is in one way or another to participate in the transformation of social relations as such, which is to say, to push education toward its ‘natural’ end and not have it subject to the reductive demands of the current state. Of course, they are strange too in the content and curriculum, in organisation and discipline, in theory, means and manner of transmission and also in the failings of these efforts, and the course will investigate how these – content, transmission, transformation – relate to each other.

What we are especially interested in is the conception of education apparent and active in each strange figures’ educational trajectory and procedure: thus what is education for the counter-reformationist Society of Jesus; what is it in the bedroom of de Sade; what is it in nature for Rousseau; what is it in the phalanstery of Fourier? Ultimately, the course asks what can we learn from these strange educators that education has taught us to forget?

1. Setting the scene

2. Loyola: ‘well disciplined like a corpse’

3. Rousseau: au natural

4. de Sade: ‘…avec mois ce soir’

5. Fourier: three part phalansteric harmony

Key texts:

Ignatius of Loyola, The Autobiography of St. Ignatius Loyola, With Related Documents & The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

J-J Rousseau, Emile & Confessions.

Charles Fourier, The Utopian Vision of Charles Fourier & The Theory of the Four Movements.

D. A. F. Marquis de Sade, Philosophy in the Bedroom

Others to be advised.



Shame: A Philosophical Exploration

Lecturer: Sergio Mariscal

Schedule: 6.30-8.30pm. 5 Thursdays starting January 12 (Note: no class on 26/1, instead Friday 27/1).

Location: Multipurpose room 2, Kathleen Syme Centre.

We come into contact with shame in all kinds of contexts. From our experiences in the playground to seeing public figures exposed for their misdeeds. In contrast, in literature and theory, shame often appears linked to the way of life of traditional societies as opposed to the modern history of regulation through the institution of conscience. This subject proposes to open to question this contrast between shame and conscience through a philosophical dialogue with a number of perspectives on shame: anthropological, sociological, ethical, psychological and historical.

Course Schedule

Lecture 1: “The re-creation of Shame”

Historically, the appearance of conscience in modernity, narrated variously as the “cultivation of the self” (Foucault) or the “civilizing process” (Elias), has not meant the disappearance of shame culture. Even though traditional norms and rules have been devalued, shame is re-created in specific contexts. Most conspicuously the re-institution of shame takes place  through a myriad of fundamentalisms which adopt absolutist cultural standards and seek to eliminate any internal voice. This is in contrast to a parallel historical process through which the external voice has become pluralised.

Lecture 2: “Affect and Imagination”

Anthropologically, the interrogation will turn to the type of affect that shame is, beginning with Darwin’s observation that affects are remnants from the demolition of instincts that accompanies the domestication of the self. In this sense, shame is an affect that is also an empirical universal of the species and that has an indeterminable amount of possible triggers. We shall inquire as to the anthropological condition for the emergence of these triggers.

Lecture 3: “The Eye of the Other”

The line of questioning turns to the individual human being and the gap that opens in relation to the social context into which it is thrown. How does the social context constitute itself into the “eye of the Other”? How does it become the bearer of the social triggers of shame? Aside from the shame involved in acting in violation of social norms, how is it possible that the condition of being different itself becomes an emotional trigger for shame?

Lecture 4: “The dialectic of Shame and Conscience”

We take as a point of departure two ethical authorities: an external one which is the social context functioning as a moral authority; and an internal one which is the modern institution of conscience. Shame is normally understood as the form of sanction available to the external authority but its relationship to conscience raises a number of questions. How is it that, on the one hand, the external authority can become internalised (guilt), and yet, on the other hand shame and conscience can run at counterpoint and irrationalize each other?

Lecture 5: “The unity of shame and the plurality of personality”

Psychologically, the eye of the Other casts a controlling glance over the subject, something not unlike an undressing glance. Laughter for example is one rational expression of the shaming attitude on the part of the external authority. The interrogation here turns to the multiple possibilities open to the subject to confront shame: from sheer insensitivity to shame to guidance by the internal authority of moral judgement as in Horace’s stoic ideal.

The texts for this subject are selected from:

  • Benedict, R., 1947. The chrysanthemum and the sword: patterns of Japanese culture. London: Secker & Warburg.
  • Elias, N., 1994. The civilizing process: The history of manners, and State formation and civilization. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Foucault, M., 1988. The history of sexuality. 1st Vintage Books ed. New York: Vintage Books.
  • Foucault, M., 1995. Discipline and punish: the birth of the prison. 2nd Vintage Books ed. New York: Vintage Books.
  • Heller, A., 1985. The power of shame: a rational perspective. London ; Boston: Routledge & K. Paul.
  • Riesman, D., 2001. The lonely crowd: a study of the changing American character. Abridged and rev. ed. New Haven [Conn.]: Yale University Press.
  • Additionally, some literary and artistic works are recommended:
  • Masaccio's fresco “Expulsion from the Garden of Eden” (1424-1428).
  • Hawthorne, N., 2003. The scarlet letter: a romance. New York, N.Y: Penguin Books.
  • Ibsen, H., 2013. A doll’s house. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Kadare, I., 2003. Broken April. London: Vintage.
  • Shakespeare, W., 2012. Romeo and Juliet. London: Arden Shakespeare.


Second set of Lectures over 5 straight days

Themes from Heidegger’s Introduction to Metaphysics

Lecturer: Emily Hughes

Schedule: 11am-1pm. 13-17 February.

Location: 1888 Building, UniMelb, Multi-function Room

Heidegger delivered the lecture course Introduction to Metaphysics at the University of Freiburg in the summer semester of 1935. It remained unpublished until 1953 when, in the preface to the seventh edition of Being and Time, Heidegger noted that, for a further elucidation of the question of Being ‘the reader may refer to my Einführung in die Metaphysik, which is appearing simultaneously with this reprinting.’ Understood then as both a companion and heir to the philosophical concerns of Being and Time, Fried and Polt argue that the Introduction to Metaphysics ‘remains, first foremost, a powerful and provocative work of philosophy,’ which, according to Capobianco, should be understood as Heidegger’s ‘true masterwork’ of the 1930s.

Undoubtedly, Introduction to Metaphysics is a compelling and thought-provoking means of clarifying some of Heidegger’s most significant philosophical concerns. What is the difference between beings and Being? How has Being been restricted throughout the history of Western philosophy? How might the question of Being itself be retrieved or recovered? How might human Dasein be brought into a disclosive confrontation with this retrieval? In this course we will focus upon these ontological dimensions of the Introduction to Metaphysics, in order to gain some clarity and

insight into the fundamental and defining thought of Heidegger’s philosophical path of thinking, namely: the question of Being itself. In the background, this course will give students the means to think through the political and ethical dimensions of Heidegger’s ontology for themselves, an important concern in the wake of the recent publication of Heidegger’s Schwartz Hefte.

This course is suitable for those are interested in thinking through some fundamental concepts in Heidegger’s philosophy, but who may or may not yet be familiar with his work. Some familiarity with basic themes in metaphysics and ontology would be of assistance, but is not essential.

Lecture 1: The question: why are there beings at all instead of nothing?                        

Lecture 2: The restriction of Being throughout Western philosophy

Lecture 3: The retrieval of Nothing and Being

Lecture 4: Being-disposed through fundamental attunements 

Lecture 5: The uncanny

Primary text:

  • Heidegger, M. Introduction to Metaphysics. Translated by G Fried and R Polt. 2 ed.  New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2014.

Further readings:

  • Heidegger, M. "What is Metaphysics?" Translated by D Farrell Krell. In Pathmarks, edited by W McNeill, 82–96. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Heidegger, M. "On the Essence of Ground." Translated by W McNeill. In Pathmarks, edited by W McNeill, 97–135. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Heidegger, M. "Preface and Introduction." Translated by J Macquarrie and E Robinson. In Being and Time, 17–64. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 1962.


Philosophies of Self-Formation: Technologies of Self for the 21st Century

Lecturer: Matthew Dennis

Schedule: 1.30-3.30pm. 13-17 February.

Location: 1888 Building, UniMelb, Multi-function Room

Recently moral philosophers have suggested that the parameters of their discipline are overly narrow, and that we would do better returning to the Socratic question of ‘how one should live’. To understand what the good life consists, these philosophers contend, we must broaden the scope of our enquiry to ask what else flourishing requires, aside from – or even instead of – ceaseless moral rectitude. While many such complaints have arisen from the virtue ethical tradition (Anscombe, Husthouse, Foot), they have also been expressed by non-card-carrying virtue ethicists, including by Harry Frankfurt and Bernard Williams. Both these thinkers argue that a fully-fledged account of the good life – an account of a life that is truly choiceworthy – cannot be given in terms of our adherence to any of the theories of the good life that moral philosophy currently offers, and they propose that to truly flourish we must allow our lives to be directed by non-moral considerations.

This five-week course asks whether thinkers in the European tradition can provide the resources to furnish us with a contemporary answer to the question ‘how one should live’. We will begin by examining the practices and virtues of self-cultivation of the Hellenistic tradition, including Pierre Hadot’s account of the ‘spiritual exercises’ [exercices spirituels] of the Stoics and the Epicureans (Hadot 1987, 2011).

Next we will examine Michel Foucault’s account of ethical self-cultivation and aesthetic self-creation, especially his claim that Hellenistic ‘practices of the self’ [pratiques de soi] offer a contemporary answer to the question of ‘how one should live’ (Foucault 1982, 1984). Foucault’s interest in aesthetic self-creation will lead to our study of Nietzsche in the penultimate week.

Nietzsche’s ideal of self-creation and self-cultivation – what he terms ‘becoming what one is’ – captures something that both Frankfurt and Williams identify as missing in moral philosophy: the importance of cultivating one’s individuality in living well. In the final week we will explore whether we can offer a contemporary and technologically-updated answer to the question ‘how one should live’ in terms of the theories of self-cultivation we have examined. 

Lecture 1: Returning to the Question of ‘How Should One Live’

The first week explores the course’s research questions i) by examining Harry Frankfurt’s and Bernard Williams’ complaint that the parameters of moral philosophy are too narrow, and ii) by asking why both thinkers propose returning to the Socratic question of ‘how one should live’. Both thinkers follow Elizabeth Anscombe’s pioneering article, ‘Modern Moral Philosophy’ (1958), which argues that moral considerations are not the only ones that bear on the question of ‘how to live’, and that, under certain (albeit rare) conditions, these considerations can be surpassed by ideals of a ‘creative and cultural kind’ (Williams 1985: 46) or ‘aesthetic, cultural, or religious ideals’ (Frankfurt 2004: 8). We will finish the session by exploring the importance of the question of ‘how should one live’, and asking why it improves upon a conception of the good life understood in terms of our moral duties and obligations.


  • Frankfurt, H. (2004). ‘The Question: How Should We Live’, The Reasons of Love.Princeton University Press, pp. 1–33.


  • Anscombe, G. E. M. (1958). ‘Modern Moral Philosophy’, Philosophy, 33.124, pp. 1–19.
  • Nehamas, A. (1998). The Art of Living: Socratic Reflections from Plato to Foucault. University of California Press.
  • Williams, B. (1985). ‘Chapter 1: Socrates’ Question’, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. Harvard University Press, pp. 1–21.
  • Williams, B. (2006). ‘The Legacy of Greek Philosophy’, The Sense of the Past: Essays in the History of Philosophy. Princeton University Press, pp. 3–49.

Lecture 2: Self-Cultivation in the Hellenistic World (Hadot)

The second week examines the role of self-cultivation in moral philosophy of the Hellenistic schools of the Stoics and the Epicureans. We will begin by examining the ethical ideals of schools (Epicurean ataraxia, Stoic apatheia), moving to the practices through which the Stoics and the Epicureans proposed attaining these states, focusing on the twentieth-century French philosopher Pierre Hadot’s account of these practices. Hadot’s ground-breaking work, Philosophy as a Way of Life, claims that contemporary moral philosophy has much to gain from engaging with the wide variety of virtues and practices relating to self-cultivation that were central to the ethics of the Hellenistic world. Only by reappraising the virtues and practices of self-cultivation that were prioritised in the Hellenistic era, Hadot argues, can modern moral philosophy once again regain a suitably rich and nuanced conception of the good life.


  • Annas, J. (1993). The Morality of Happiness. Oxford University Press, ch. 1–2.
  • Hadot, P. (1995) [1987]. Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault, trans. M. Chase. Blackwell, Introduction and ch. 1.


  • Nussbaum, M. (1994). The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics. Princeton University Press.
  • Hadot, P. (2011). The Present Alone is Our Happiness. Conversations with Jeannie Carlier and Arnold I. Davidson, translated by M. Djaballah and M. Chase. Stanford University Press.

Lecture 3: Aesthetic Self-Creation and Ethical Self-Cultivation (Foucault)

The third week will examine Foucault’s account of aesthetic self-creation in his late interviews and lectures, and will trace its precursors to i) Baudelaire’s conception of dandyism and ii) Nietzsche’s account of stylising one’s character, as well as the Stoic sources that Foucault examines in History of Sexuality (vols. II–III). Following Hadot, Foucault claims that self-cultivation has the resources to reinvigorate contemporary moral philosophy, although his account emphases aesthetic self-creation and presupposes a quintessentially modern conception of subjectivity. Foucault’s account of aesthetic self-creation will provide an important contemporary dimension to answering the question of ‘how one should live’, one which emphasises the importance of what Foucault calls ‘technologies of self’. We will explore how the rise of new technologies have the potential to increase ways in which the self can be cultivated, paying especial attention to how such new technologies can both increase our freedom but also limit it. 


  • Foucault, M. (1994) [1997]. ‘Technologies of the Self’ in P. Rabinow (ed.) Ethics, translated by R. Hurley and others. Penguin Books, pp. 223–251.
  • Foucault, M. (1988). ‘An Aesthetics of Existence’ in Kritzman, L. (ed.) Philosophy, Politics, Culture: Interviews 1977–1984. Routledge, pp. 47–53.


  • Baudelaire, C. (1995) [1863]. ‘The Painter of Modern Life’, in The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, trans. J. Mayne. Phaidon Press.
  • Foucault, M. (1984/1985). History of Sexuality: The Use of Pleasure, trans. by R. Hurley. Penguin Books.
  • Foucault, M. (1984) [1986]. History of Sexuality: The Care of the Self, trans. by R. Hurley, Penguin Books.

Lecture 4: On How One Becomes What One Is (Nietzsche)

Nietzsche tells us that the expression of one’s individuality – epitomised by his ethical ideal of ‘becoming what one is’ – is an essential part of the fully flourishing life. While Nietzsche’s account of achieving individuality comes from the practices of self-cultivation in the Hellenistic tradition, his emphasis on individuality is strikingly original, especially as it rejects the claim that all individuals should aspire to the same moral goals. The fourth week will investigate i) how ‘becoming what one is’ could provide a contemporary answer to the question of ‘how should one live’, and ii) how this ideal has more in common with Foucault’s emphasis on ‘technologies of the self’ than Hellenistic practices of self-cultivation. Understanding the importance of self-cultivation for developing one’s individuality will provide the platform to examine the prospects for an ethics of self-cultivation in the final week. 


  • Nietzsche, F. (2005) [1888–89]. The Anti-Christ, Ecce Homo, Twilight of the Idols, The Case of Wagner, Nietzsche Contra Wagner, trans. J. Norman. Cambridge University Press.
  • Nietzsche, F. (1974) [1882]. The Gay Science, trans. W. Kaufmann. Vintage.
  • Nietzsche, F. (1966) [1886]. Beyond Good and Evil, trans. W. Kaufmann. Vintage. 


  • Ansell-Pearson, K. (2014). ‘Heroic-Idyllic Philosophizing: Nietzsche and the Epicurean Tradition’, Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, 74, pp. 237-263.
  • Ure, M. (2013). ‘Nietzsche’s “View from Above”’, in Hutter, H. and Friedland, E. (eds.), Nietzsche’s Therapeutic Teaching For Individuals and Culture. Bloomsbury.

  • Nehamas, A. (1985), Nietzsche: Life as Literature. Harvard University Press.

Lecture 5: Prospects for an Ethics of Self-Cultivation 

The fifth week will evaluate the potential of self-cultivation to contribute to new modes of living, as well as contemporary debates in moral philosophy. We will return to our the guiding research question of ‘how one should live’, showing that, in Frankfurt’s and Williams’ terms, the combined resources of Hadot, Foucault, and Nietzsche can contribute many valuable insights to answering this question. We will close by returning to Foucault’s emphasis on ‘technologies of the self’, and will scrutinise the potential of online-based platforms and other contemporary media to contribute to emancipatory and empowering modes of self-cultivation for twenty-first century life. 


  • Foucault, M. (1994) [1997]. ‘Technologies of the Self’ in P. Rabinow (ed.) Ethics, translated by R. Hurley and others. Penguin Books, pp. 223–251.
  • Frankfurt, H. (2004). The Reasons of Love. Princeton University Press, ch. 2–3.


  • McGushkin, E. (2007). Foucault's Askesis. An Introduction to the Philosophical Life. Northwestern University Press.
  • O’Leary, T. (2002). Foucault the Art of Ethics. Continuum.


Potentialities and Virtualities: Meillassoux on Mathematics, Literature, and Justice

Lecturer: Christian R. Gelder

Schedule: 4-6pm. 13-17 February.

Location: 1888 Building, UniMelb, Multi-function Room

“I hope one day to be freed from this ‘double identity’ — this gap between what I do and what people think I do” - Meillassoux

Quentin Meillassoux’s philosophy has generated an enormous amount of intrigue and commentary. Alain Badiou writes that “Meillassoux is a very great philosopher, at once passionate and extraordinarily rigorous”. Peter Hallward states that “[n]ot since Derrida’s ‘Structure, Sign and Play’ has a French philosopher made such an immediate impact in sections of the Anglophone world… It’s easy to see why Meillassoux’s After Finitude has so quickly acquired something close to cult status among readers who share his lack of reverence for ‘the way things are’”. And, as Graham Harman unashamedly pronounces, Meillassoux’s work “will be remembered as the death blow to the mainstream continental philosophy that ran from 1900 (Husserl’s Logical Investigations) to 2005 (the year before After Finitude was published)”. 

In this course, we will introduce Meillassoux’s thought in its totality, focusing on his metaphysical speculations in After Finitude (2006), his recent work on mathematics and its relation to the world in-itself, his often neglected writings on science-fiction and poetry, as well as his work on justice, ethics, and the God yet to come. Devoting each lecture to a different theme, this course aims to understand Meillassoux’s place within the philosophical tradition – as well as judge the merits of his surprising success. 

Lecture 1: Metaphysics

In this lecture, we will reconstruct the structural basis of Meillassoux’s philosophy: his doctrine of contingency, with respect to related ideas concerning potentiality, virtuality, correlationism and the absolute. We will do this by close reading his first book, After Finitude, as well as a series of surrounding essays.
Readings: Quentin Meillassoux, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency, trans. Ray Brassier (London/New York: Continuum, 2006), 1-111.

Quentin Meillassoux, “Potentiality and Virtuality,” Collapse, Vol. II (2007): 55-81.
Quentin Meillassoux, “The Contingency of the Laws of Nature,” Environment and Planning D: Soceity and Space, Vol. 30 (2012): 322-334.

Lecture 2: Mathematics

In this lecture, we will examine the crucial and counter-intuitive role Meillassoux accords to mathematics. Here, we read his intervention against debates concerning the Galilean mathematisation of nature, the role of set theory in contemporary Continental philosophy, and his work on mathematics and the world in-itself.


  • Quentin Meillassoux, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency, trans. Ray Brassier (London/New York: Continuum, 2006), 112-128.
  • Quentin Meillassoux, “Iteration, Reiteration, Repetition: A Speculative Analysis of the Sign Devoid of Meaning,” in Genealogies of Speculation: Materialism and Subjectivity Since Structuralism, eds. Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik, trans. Robin Mackay and Mortiz Gansen (London/New York: Bloomsbury, 2016), 117-198.

Lecture 3: Literature

In this lecture, we will rehearse one of the most ignored facets of Meillassoux’s thinking: his writings on literature. We begin by looking at an early paper on science-fiction, which has been recently translated, and end by discussing his work on the 19th century poet Stéphane Mallarmé. The aim of this lecture is to evaluate the relationship this work has to his philosophy proper.


  • Quentin Meillassoux, The Number and the Siren: A Decipherment of Mallarmé’s Un Coup de dés, trans. Robin Mackay (Falmouth/New York: Urbanomic/Sequence, 2012).
  • Quentin Meillassoux, Science Fiction and Extro-Science Fiction, trans. Alyosha Edlebi (Univocal, 2015).

Lecture 4: Justice

In this lecture, we will examine Meillassoux’s partially published doctoral thesis L’inexistence divine, and related works concerning theology, justice, and the God yet to come.


  • Quentin Meillassoux, “Appendix: Excerpts from L’Inexistence divine,” in Graham Harman, Quentin Meillassoux: Philosophy in the Making (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011), 175-238.
  • Quentin Meillassoux, “Spectral Dilemma,” Collapse IV, Vol. IV (2008): 261-275.
  • Quentin Meillassoux, “L’inexistence divine,” Failles, No. 3 (2014).

Lecture 5: Philosophy

In the final lecture, we will look at Meillassoux’s critiques of his philosophical contemporaries: Alain Badiou, Gilles Deleuze, and others. We will show how his unique philosophical system, and its relation to mathematics, literature and justice, helps provide a framework to intervene into the contemporary philosophical moment. We will also dedicate a portion of the final lecture to discussion.


  • Quentin Meillassoux, “Subtraction and Contraction: Deleuze, Immanence, and Matter and Memory,” Collapse, Vol. III (2007): 63-107.
  • Quentin Meillassoux, “History and Event in Alain Badiou,” Parrhesia, No. 12 (2010): 1-11.
  • Quentin Meillassoux, “Badiou and Mallarmé: The Event and the Perhaps,” Parrhesia, No. 16 (2013): 35-47.


ss9Phenomenology and the Visual Arts

Lecturer: Dr Graham Jones

Schedule: 6.30-8.30pm. 13-17 February.

Location: 1888 Building, UniMelb, Multi-function Room

Phenomenology has provided one of the richest and most nuanced philosophical approaches to the arts. This course details the relevant ideas of five key figures within this tradition: Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Mikel Dufrenne, Michel Henry, and Henri Maldiney. The final part of the course examines the ‘post-phenomenological’ legacy of this tradition, offering Gilles Deleuze's Logic of Sensation as an important example.

Seminar 1
The first seminar provides a brief introduction to, and overview of, phenomenology as a philosophical method and a conceptual paradigm. It then examines phenomenology's relation to the arts (particularly the visual arts), beginning with Heidegger's view of these matters.

Seminar 2
This seminar looks at Merleau-Ponty’s evolving view on painting, presenting his ideas against the backdrop of his philosophy more generally.

Seminar 3
This seminar examines Dufrenne’s famous and influential work on aesthetic experience and the nature of the aesthetic object.

Seminar 4
This seminar looks at two lesser-known phenomenologists, Michel Henry and Henri Maldiney, examining their respective contributions to theorising the arts.

Seminar 5
The final seminar looks at the legacy of these figures’ respective contributions, particularly the way their concerns have been selectively adopted and critically extended by subsequent thinkers who often claim no specific or overt affiliation with phenomenology as such. In particular we will look at Deleuze’s Logic of Sensation and its synthesis of several key phenomenological concepts.





Mailing List Subscribe

To keep up to date with MSCP activities and local philosophy related events, please subscribe to our mailing list
The MSCP only uses these details for the mailing list. We will not pass your details on to anyone.

Course Descriptions