The New School for Social Research has always attracted renowned scholars from around the world, who foster an open atmosphere for exploration and inquiry through their teaching and research. The eminent philosophers who have helped create and sustain an intellectually vibrant philosophy department include Hannah Arendt, Hans Jonas, Aron Gurwitsch, and Reiner Schürmann.
The focus of study in the Department of Philosophy is the history of Western philosophical thought and the European philosophical tradition, particularly contemporary Continental philosophy. The graduate curriculum consists of two components. The first is the study of major figures such as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Spinoza, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Freud, Gadamer, De Beauvoir, Adorno, Benjamin, Wittgenstein, Foucault, Derrida, Kristeva, and Irigaray. The second explores the movements, schools, branches, and ideas associated with those figures. Philosophy at The New School is thus the study of phenomenology, hermeneutics, and pragmatism; political and social thought; ethics, critical theory, and aesthetics; epistemology, metaphysics, and ontology; logic and language; rationality, methodology, and naturalism within the social sciences; nature, culture, beauty, and goodness; unconscious and conscious processes; and contingency, necessity, human freedom, tragedy, and truth.