However, the module PL303: Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics in Spring Term is recommended as a useful complement to this module, while PL305: Existentialism takes up some of the issues from a particular perspective.
OverviewCan I know that I am not dreaming? Am I the same person I was when I was ten years old? Do I have an immaterial mind or immortal soul? Am I a mere machine or do I have a free will? What are the fundamental properties of the world? Does God exist? This module is meant to be an introduction to these and other fundamental problems of philosophy. The module begins with an examination of some themes in Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy, and moves on to discuss the arguments of other classical philosophers, such as Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, and also of contemporary thinkers. Among the themes addressed are: the nature of knowledge, scepticism, personal identity, the mind-body problem, free will and determinism, primary and secondary qualities, causation, induction, God.
This module appears in:
one hour lecture, one hour seminar per week for 10 weeks
Method of assessment
Thomas Nagel, What does it all mean?
Anthony Kenny, A New History of Western Philosophy, chapters 1-3
Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy
By the end of this course students should be thoroughly familiar with the basic
terminology required for the analysis and evaluation of arguments (including: `premiss',
`conclusion', `valid', `sound'); they should also have a critical appreciation of:
* Descartes' Method of Doubt and the `Cogito' argument,
* Descartes' arguments for the existence of God
* Descartes' own account of perceptual knowledge;
they should also have a basic understanding of the following doctrines, and of the
main arguments for and against them :
* Cartesian Dualism
* Phenomenalism * Physicalism (Smart's Identity Thesis; Functionalism)
* Compatibilism and Incompatibilism
During this course students will have had instruction and practice in:
* cognitive skills - engaging in critical, systematic, discussion of philosophical problems
* presentation skills - speaking effectively and persausively on seminar discussion
* writing skills - writing a literate, grammatical and well-structured philosophical essay.
By the end of the course students will also have had the opportunity to develop (but will
not receive direct tuition in) such IT skills as: word-processing essays; using e-mail for
discussion; CD ROM access to the Routledge Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.