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PHIL2028 Appearance and Reality

Module Overview

The 17th and 18th centuries, a period of great intellectual and social upheaval, saw the rise of Modern Philosophy. In continental Europe, the 'Rationalism' of Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz argued for the capacity of reason to arrive at knowledge and understanding of the fundamental nature of reality, while the British 'Empiricists', including Locke, Berkeley and Hume, argued that all knowledge and understanding is ultimately grounded in sensory experience and grew increasingly sceptical of our capacity to discover the fundamental nature of reality. Many of the ideas and problems that contemporary philosophers grapple with were inherited from the Early Modern era, and the debates in which they now participate were in large part shaped by the concerns and theories of the Rationalists and Empiricists. So, an understanding of the philosophy of this period is not simply of considerable historical interest, but is essential for a serious engagement with contemporary philosophical thought. In this module, you will focus primarily on the work of Locke, Berkeley and Hume, though you might also engage with the work of Spinoza and Leibniz. The module aims to introduce you to their views on such topics as the mind and its relationship to the body, God, the nature of the external world, and the extent to which we can have knowledge of such things. The module also aims to give you the ability to examine critically those views and the arguments in support of them.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Of the central views of Locke, Berkeley and Hume.
  • Of the development of Empiricism and its relationship to the views of Descartes and his fellow Rationalists.
  • Of the bearing of these views on contemporary philosophical issues.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Give clear and engaging oral presentations, making effective use of visual aids.
  • Scrutinise complex texts and extract from them key information.
  • Demonstrate enhanced skills in essay writing, planning and research.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Compare and contrast the views of the British Empiricists.
  • Outline and evaluate the arguments they offer in support of those views in light of recent commentary.
  • Evaluate those arguments critically and carefully.
  • Relate the issues the module concerns to issues in contemporary philosophy.

Syllabus

This module typically covers: 1. Introduction to Rationalism and Empiricism 2. Locke on perception, the external world and the self 3. Berkeley on the external world, God and the self 4. Hume on causation, the external world and the self

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

• Lectures • Seminars • In-class discussion • Independent study

TypeHours
Preparation for scheduled sessions22
Wider reading or practice22
Lecture33
Follow-up work22
Completion of assessment task22
Revision22
Seminar7
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

John Locke. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. 

David Hume. A Treatise of Human Nature. 

R Meyers (2006). Understanding Empiricism. 

George Berkeley. A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge. 

Assessment

Formative

Essay

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 60%
Presentation  (10 minutes) 20%
Test 20%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (3 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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