Courses / Modules / PHIL2028 Appearance and Reality

Appearance and Reality

When you'll study it
Semester 1
CATS points
ECTS points
Level 5
Module lead
William McNeill
Academic year

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 Empiricists. 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.