Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07
How “real” is reality? How does the mind relate to the world? This course introduces two approaches to answering these questions: rationalism and empiricism. By Rene Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, we learn about Descartes’ rationalist approach to knowledge, reality, mind-body dualism, and God’s necessary existence. Through David Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding see how Hume grounds knowledge in experience. We read Hume on impressions and ideas, induction, causality, miracles and critically compare and examine Descartes’ and Hume’s arguments by drawing on readers and critics. Download Course Guide
|Session||First Sub Session||Credit Points||15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)|
|Campus||Old Aberdeen||Sustained Study||No|
The course introduces rationalism and empiricism as two major systems of thought taking different approaches to the same question: how does the mind relate to the world? Students will first learn about 17th century rationalism by focusing on Rene Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy. Through this text, students will learn about rationalist approaches to knowledge and reality, and about specific topics in Descartes' philosophy including the method of doubt, the mind-body problem, and arguments for the existence of the self, God, and the world. We will then turn to David Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding as the key text of 18th century empiricism. Through this text, students will learn how empiricist philosophers criticized rationalism, and turned instead to experience to provide a foundation for knowledge. We will look at Hume's distinction between impressions and ideas, the problem of induction, his account of causality, and his critique of miracles. Other rationalist and empiricist philosophers will also be introduced to provide context.
Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.
1st Attempt: Two 1500-word essays (50% each)
Resit: One 1500-word essay (100%). In line with School Policy, failure to submit a component piece of assessed work, or submitting a token piece, will result in the withdrawal of the class certificate (students are not eligible for resit).
Feedback on essays; individually arranged conversations during office hours/by appointment; feedback on in-class presentations
Written on essay and marking sheet; office hours/appointment; peer questions and comments during in-class presentations