Last updated: February 17, 2023 @ 10:28PM


Master of Arts in Philosophy

Field(s) of Specialization
Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Eastern Philosophy
Comparative Philosophy

Carol U. Merriam
Faculty of Humanities

Associate Dean
Elizabeth Vlossak
Faculty of Humanities

Core Faculty

Christine Daigle, R. Raj Singh, Rajiv Kaushik, Brian Lightbody

Associate Professors
Michael Berman, Athena V. Colman

Graduate Program Director
Rajiv Kaushik
905-688-5550, extension 5311

Administrative Assistant
Michelle Benson
905-688-5550, extension 4352
International Centre, 573B Glenridge Ave, St. Catharines, ON L2T 4C2

Program Description
The Master's program focuses on three areas: recent and contemporary Continental and Asian thought, as well as Comparative philosophy. The program also accommodates the rise in importance of post-structuralist continental thinkers. Such inclusions indicate the type of dynamic rapport the Department wishes to keep with the wider philosophical community. Consequently, the majority of courses offered in any one year will be selected from the following specializations:

Contemporary Continental Philosophy (Existentialism, Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, Post-Structuralism): Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, Gadamer, Foucault, Deleuze, Guattari, Kristeva, Irigaray, Habermas or some contemporary European movement, such as Structuralism, the Frankfurt School, etc.

Eastern Philosophy: Indian and Upanishadic Philosophy: texts from the six orthodox schools of Indian philosophy, especially Vedanta, Early Indian Buddhist traditions, especially the Madhyamika school and Yogacara Buddhism; Bhakti traditions, and Gandhi.

Comparative Philosophy: Comparison of Eastern and Western traditions with respect to problems of being, knowledge, person, values, and philosophical method.

In addition, from time to time, half-courses and tutorials may be offered on the following topics: For example, Issues in recent Anglo-American (Analytic) Philosophy, Studies in Classical Philosophy (Pre-Socratics, Plato and/or Aristotle), etc. These topics fall outside the principal focus of the graduate program, but are represented by individual members of the Department. (If in a given year a half-credit in one of the above happens not to be offered, an individual tutorial therein may be arranged.)

Admission Requirements
Successful completion of four-year Bachelor's degree, or equivalent, in Philosophy with an average not less than 75%. Applicants must supply a statement of interest. Knowledge of languages other than English may be required as appropriate.

The Graduate Admissions Committee will review all applications and recommend admission for a limited number of suitable candidates.

Individuals interested in part-time study should consult with the Graduate Program Director.

Degree Requirements
In order to complete the degree requirements for the Master of Arts in Philosophy, there are two paths from which to choose: the MA thesis option, which requires the successful completion of four (4) half-credits in the philosophy program and a thesis (normally completed in six terms); and the major research paper option, which requires the successful completion of six (6) half-credits as well as a major research paper (normally completed in five terms). Thesis candidates are limited to a maximum of one half-credit directed reading course; major research paper candidates may take up to two one half-credit directed reading courses. Students are also required to complete PHIL 5F01.

Course Descriptions

Note that not all courses are offered in every session. Refer to the applicable timetable for details.

Students must ensure that prerequisites are met. Students may be deregistered, at the request of the instructor, from any course for which prerequisites and/or restrictions have not been met.
Philosophical Skills and Development
Topics such as the nature of graduate studies, pedagogy, publication practices, conferences, and current academic engagement in the field. This course will include an experiential learning component where students will participate in the departmental colloquium, presenting, defending and honing their philosophical research
Restriction: Seminar, 2 hours per week
Note: Graded by Pass//Fail

Major Research Paper
Research project involving the preparation of a major research paper which shall demonstrate capacity for independent work and original research and thought.

Research project involving the preparation and defence of a thesis which shall demonstrate capacity for independent work and original research and thought.

Advanced Studies in Political Philosophy
Critical examination of either a particular thinker or problem in political philosophy. Political thinkers may include Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, J. S. Mill, Rawls and Nozick. Problems may include liberty and political organization, justice and equality, human nature and order, civil disobedience, participation and consent, liberalism, anarchism, socialism and conservatism.

Study of the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre as discussed in his literary and philosophical works.

Examination of perceptual and cognitive issues in the moral, aesthetic and phenomenological philosophy of this French thinker. Critical exploration of his reception in the post-structuralist and post-analytic traditions.

Study of the earlier and later works of Michel Foucault. Themes discussed may include archaeology, genealogy, discipline, power, knowledge, subjectivity and sexuality.

Study of the philosophical ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche.

Critical Theory: Frankfurt School
Consideration of Frankfurt School Critical Theory through an examination of its core thinkers, including, but not limited to: Benjamin, Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, Fromm, Habermas, Honneth.
Note: Completion of this course will replace previously assigned grade in PHIL 5V04.

Husserl and Transcendental Phenomenology
Basic issues and methods of phenomenological philosophy will be studied and explored with reference to some of the major works of Husserl.

Simone de Beauvoir
Study of the philosophical ideas of Simone de Beauvoir.

Examination of the philosophical ideas of Jurgen Habermas as found in Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, Truth and Justification, and Post-Metaphysical Thinking.

Study of Martin Heidegger's Being and Time and selected later works on themes such as fundamental ontology, analytic of Dasein, truth, language and art.

Merleau-Ponty and Nagarjuna
Critical development of comparative philosophical analysis. Examination of issues in phenomenology, existentialism and soteriology.

Kant and the 18th Century
Historical study of the thought of Immanuel Kant in the context of the 18th-century enlightenment, normally focusing on Kant's critical philosophy.

Modern Philosophical Studies: Hegel and the 19th Century
Historical study of the thought of Georg W. F. Hegel in the context of the 19th century.

Merleau-Ponty: The Art of Perception
Merleau-Ponty's treatments and analyses of the visual (painting and film) and literary arts, seen as products, explorations and distortions of human perception and embodied subjectivity, which shed light on our cultural and pre-cultural experiences of the world.

Directed Reading I
Research course with directed study and regular meetings with a faculty member, covering topics not offered in a designated course.

Directed Reading II
Research course with directed study and regular meetings with a faculty member, covering topics not offered in a designated course.

PHIL 5V00-5V09
Studies in Contemporary Philosophy
Topics may include a contemporary philosophical genre such as French Feminism or be focused more narrowly on a single contemporary philosopher, for example, Freud or Deleuze.

Critical Posthumanism
Study of key critical posthumanist thinkers such as Rosi Braidotti, Karen Barad and Claire Colebrook, including an examination of central concepts such as post-anthropocentric and anti-dualistic thinking, and material entanglement.

The Phenomenology of Justus Buchler
Examination of key concepts in the works of Buchler, such as experience, nature, judgment, query, and natural complexes.

PHIL 5V20-5V29
Advanced Studies in Comparative Philosophy
Focuses primarily on the comparison of philosophical figures, concepts, and problems from both contemporary continental thought as well as eastern thought (e.g., Buddhism, Vedanta, Taoism).

PHIL 5V30-5V45
Advanced Studies in Eastern Philosophy
Concentrated critical and interpretive study of selected texts in the areas of: Advaita Vedanta, Yoga, Madhyamika and Yogacara schools of Buddhism, or Chinese Philosophy.

Advanced Vedanta
Advanced examination of the sources and prominent schools of this central Indian philosophy; readings may include selections from the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad-Gita, Samkara, Ramanuja and Madhava.

PHIL 5V50-5V59
Advanced Studies in Contemporary Philosophy
Examination of current trends in philosophy and cultural issues. Topics may include 21st century aesthetics, artificial intelligence and phenomenology, or socio-environmental challenges.