I'd like to educate myself in contemporary, mainly continental, philosophy. Yet, every time I start looking into it, I encounter topics I consider not at the core of philosophy, but rather at the border with other disciplines (like sociology, art critique, political sciences, psychology etc.).

The questions I'm interested in are more metaphysical/ontological or epistemological ones. Like mind/body duality, the nature of being, causality, nature of space and time, free will, problem of identity, truth and knowledge etc.

The only philosopher I managed to find who concerns himself with questions like these is Alain Badiou.

Do you have any suggestions for other authors and/or books, articles, online lectures or other sources?


I am not quite sure how to think about your question. In part, I don't have any idea where you are coming from or what degree of training you have in philosophy. I think one issue is that it's hard to define the "core of philosophy" so many of the people writing sociology and political science as continental philosophy do so because they think that is the core. Or to put it another way, many of them are engaged in a critique of standard notions of metaphysics and epistemology (I studied this for several years before deciding on modern philosophy as my AOS because I don't think their critiques are as effective as the hype machines make them out to be).

For instance, I take it to be central to Foucault's history of ideas approach that he doesn't think we're doing much other than playing language games so we should be honest about things are moving. A similar historical approach with different results is taken by Charles Taylor. In both cases, there's a Hegelian heritage at work there. (On the analytic or "post-analytic" side, you may want to compare this with Richard Rorty).

If you're looking for continental thinkers doing "metaphysics/ontology" or "epistemology" however they might define those terms or however similar their projects might be.

Then I might suggest Martin Heidegger and his text "What is Metaphysics?" along with Being and Time as good intros to continental approaches to these questions. A major movement that builds (or at least grows) on this in epistemology is hermeneutics with Gadamer being a key figure.

Alternately, you could look at the phenomenological tradition more broadly going to back to Husserl and then forward to a variety of thinks including Jean-Luc Marion and Jean-Luc Nancy. Levinas is hard to follow but also kind of about "metaphysics" depending on what you mean by the term (and falling in line with the phenomenologists in some respects).

Sartre's Being and Nothingness is about epistemology and is an elaborate (and winding and confusing) critique of Hegel and several other thinks about the nature of knowledge. (It was also parodied by the philosophers of language on the analytic side).

Derrida is also engaged in a kind of critique of knowledge project.

  • Thanks! To my philosophy training - I'm a grad student in math, but I've taken some philosophy courses (analytical philosophy, Kant, Plato, Aristotle...) and read a few books/articles (Descartes' Meditations, Plato's dialogues...) I've read "What is Metaphysics" and parts of Being and Time and I liked it a lot. I may well look for "Heidegger-like philosophers". I'll surely look into Gadamer. Another thing that pops out as I write -- any philosophers concerned with what modern (quantum) physics means for our understanding of the world, us and/or philosophy?
    – l_j
    Nov 25 '15 at 18:34
  • Try Micheal Redhead, e.g. Philosophy of Quanum Mechanics Nov 27 '15 at 12:36

Concerning current continental philosophy, the following philosophers contribute important thoughts or even theories:

  1. Evolutionary epistemology is an epistemology which explains our cognitive capabilities by adaption and selection to the environmental conditions of our species. As such it embedds epistemology into the context of general evolution and adds to the traditional issue of validity the view point of genesis. Important continental representants are Konrad Lorenz, Ruport Riedl and Gerhard Vollmer.

  2. On the field of cognitive science Thomas Metzinger has contributed a theory about the role of the first person as the center of our world model. See his book "Being No One. The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity" and the different companion texts by the author. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Metzinger

  3. Gerhard Roth, a philosopher and biologist, has developed a constructivist epistemology based on investigations from neuroscience. Most of his publications are in German. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerhard_Roth_(Biologe)

  • Thanks! All the people and theories you mention are new to me. I'll sure have a look at these.
    – l_j
    Nov 25 '15 at 18:38

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