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6th International Summer School in German Philosophy:
“The Hermeneutics of Suspicion”
(27.06 - 08.07.)




Keynote Addresses/Visiting Professors:

  • Brian Leiter (University of Chicago)
  • Michael Rosen (Harvard University)
  • Sebastian Gardner (University College London)
  • Lydia Goehr (Columbia University)


Course description:


  • The 2016 Summer School in German Philosophy at Bonn University will focus on what Paul Ricoeur has dubbed “the hermeneutics of suspicion,” that is, a sort of critical deepening of traditional hermeneutics according to which beneath the surface meanings of texts, discourse, and other forms of expression on which traditional hermeneutics has focused there lies a deeper level of meaning, purpose, or function that typically contradicts that surface level and which moreover serves perfidious or at least questionable ends. The hermeneutics of suspicion can be seen as an investigation of the extent to which we are warranted in trusting the surface meaning of socially relevant forms of expression. The prime examples of this “hermeneutics of suspicion” are Marx’s theory of ideology, Nietzsche’s method of genealogy, and Freud’s psychoanalysis (in its exploration of the unconscious).


  • The Summer School will consider each of these versions of a “hermeneutics of suspicion.” We will begin with some of the most important historical influences on Marx’s theory of ideology and Nietzsche’s method of genealogy: Herder’s “genetic method” as developed in his Fragments on Recent German Literature and This Too a Philosophy of History; and the “Self-consciousness” chapter of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, especially the sections on “Lordship and Bondage” and the “Unhappy Consciousness,” where Hegel purports to unmask Christian religion as a socially caused illusion (for Marx’s theory of ideology). We will then turn to Marx’s theory of ideology itself, focusing especially on his statement of it in The German Ideology. After that, we will consider Nietzsche’s method of genealogy, especially as he practices it in On the Genealogy of Morals. We will then consider Freud’s psychoanalysis as a hermeneutics of suspicion, especially in application to dreams in The Interpretation of Dreams and “parapraxes” such as slips of the tongue in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life. We will also deal with Freud’s critique of religion in Moses and Monotheism. It will be our goal in the course both to achieve a better understanding of the several approaches in question and to assess their value.




Please send the following by 31.03.2016 to: [Email protection active, please enable JavaScript.]:

  • CV of no more than 2 pages
  • Statement of intent of no more than 1 page. Please mention in your statement whether you are interested in attending and participating in several seminars on the topic in German, which will be offered should demand warrant.
  • Writing sample of no more than 2,000 words in either English, French or German.


All students must in addition have at least one degree in philosophy.
All texts and discussions will be in English.
The course will be open to a maximum of 40 participants.


ICPH Fellowships:

The International Centre for Philosophy North Rhine-Westphalia will be offering several stipends for foreign graduate students to cover part of their traveling expenses and accommodations. To apply for a stipend, please send a short, separate letter outlining current funding status, financial need and projected travel expenses. Please note that there are no registration or course fees for the summer school.



We will help all participants find accommodation in Bonn (youth hostel, hotel rooms). More information regarding housing will be made available soon. Please contact us at: [Email protection active, please enable JavaScript.]. Participants will be responsible for meals outside official summer school dinners. All usual services (internet and library access, etc.) will be provided.