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What are some good introductions to the variety of movements that constitute "contintental" philosophy? Which forerunners of these movements might be most helpful in terms of understanding their theoretical and historical context? (Related to this question.)

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One thing I would note is that speaking in unwarrantably broad terms of movements such as 'existentialism' or 'German Idealism' (therefore esp. continental philosophy) in general does little other than allow a person to say a lot things about a lot of authors whose works they've never actually read ..

What are some good introductions to the variety of movements that constitute "contintental" philosophy?

One which I have never read, but would endorse through the quality of it's authors is Simon Critchley and William Schroder's A Companion to Continental Philosophy

Which forerunners of these movements might be most helpful in terms of understanding their theoretical and historical context?Which forerunners of these movements might be most helpful in terms of understanding their theoretical and historical context?

I think the big one in terms of forerunners is Heraclitus, for the reason that in pre-Socratic philosophy he is the the first significant figure to privilege becoming over being. For a good short intro I would suggest this short article on Heraclitus and Parmenides

One important forerunner of phenomenology is Franz Brentano, as it was his conception of intentionality that was a major influence on Husserl developing the phenomenological method

German idealism is a hard one to pinpoint specific forerunners, however familiarity with Locke, Berkeley, as well as David Hume's criticisms of the latter, are a good place to start in seeking to understand the problems which Kant's philosophy address'.

Trying to pinpoint forerunners of Nietzsche, because of the scope of his reading, can be like seeking a candle flame inside the sun. Schopenhauer is the obvious one, but much of his learning stems from his reading of the Greeks, for example where Callicles asserts that justice is "the rule of the strong", Nietzsche sides with the interlocutor of Socrates who believes justice is merely the weak imposing their way of life upon the strong. My personal suggestion, and of course not everyone would agree, but in looking for an entry point into contemporary continental philosophy, is to begin with Nietzsche. For a clearly written introduction which is fairly orthadox in its interpretation I would suggest this book

Ultimately the list could be almost endless, but these are the few that I would suggest.

Happy reading :)

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    It's interesting to see Brentano come up here. Analytic metaphysics draws quite a lot from Brentano and Meinong. Always nice to see the intersections. – Dennis Jul 21 '13 at 6:25
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    I've read critchleys & schroeder - and it is very well put together. – Mozibur Ullah Jul 21 '13 at 7:31
  • Isn't that Thrasymachus about the rule of the stronger? – Joseph Weissman Jul 22 '13 at 0:47
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    Indeed, in The first part of The Republic he does put that view to Socrates, but Callicles was also an advocate of this form of what he called 'natural justice' .. looking it up just now I have come across this plato.stanford.edu/entries/callicles-thrasymachus entry comparing the views of each .. well spotted – Dr Sister Jul 22 '13 at 7:18

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