Introduction to Philosophy: Knowledge and Metaphysics - PL302

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
4 15 (7.5) DR E Kanterian







This module begins with a critical examination of Rene Descartes' justly celebrated Meditations on First Philosophy (published, originally, in 1641). This work not only provides a comprehensive account of Descartes' philosophical system, but also constitutes an admirable introduction to The Theory of Knowledge and to Metaphysics. Thus, Descartes' fundamentally Rationalist account of our knowledge of the external world is duly contrasted with the Empiricist accounts offered by such Twentieth Century Philosophers as Bertrand Russell and A.J.Ayer; while Descartes' Dualism is compared with the other major metaphysical doctrines, namely, Idealism, Phenomenalism and contemporary Physicalism. The module concludes with a survey of what is, perhaps, the most perplexing of metaphysical problems, namely, The Problem of Freewill and Determinism.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

• Essay 1 – 45%
• Essay 2 – 45%
• Seminar Performance – 10%

Indicative reading

Indicative reading:

Ayer, A.J. The Central Questions of Philosophy, London: MacMillan
Descartes, R. Meditations on First Philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Hospers, J. Introduction to Philosophical Analysis, London: Routledge
Kenny, A. (2006), The Rise of Modern Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Russell, B. The Problems of Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Demonstrate familiarity with the basic terminology required for the analysis and evaluation of argument;
Demonstrate appreciation of Descartes' Method of Doubt and the 'Cognito' argument;
Demonstrate appreciation of Descartes' arguments for the existence of God;
Demonstrate appreciation of Descartes' own account of perceptual knowledge;
Demonstrate a basic understanding of Cartesian Dualism, Idealism, and Phenomenalism, as well as the main arguments for and against them.

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