Here are two quests that have driven nearly all continental philosophy after Kant. What means of understanding are fundamental, how can they be improved, and is there a limit to their reach, no matter what? What motives if any are fundamental, how can they be improved, and is there a limit to their satisfaction, no matter what?
Our discussions and main readings will focus on the three philosophers who have the most to say simultaneously about both quests: Hegel, Schopenhauer, and Heidegger. Hegel starts with a drive for self-knowledge, and (he thinks) winds up realizing that everything is one big happy world-mind. Schopenhauer starts with limits to our perceptions, and (he thinks) winds up with a doomed will to life underlying all things. Heidegger starts with the elements of everyday skills and moods, and (he thinks) winds up delimiting our ability to cope with modern science and technology.
Lectures and side readings will keep track of Hegel's inspirations (Fichte, Schelling), his critics (Kierkegaard, Marx), Schopenhauer's star student (Nietzsche), Heidegger's foil (Husserl), and his French connections (Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Derrida).