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Our central question in this subject will be the extent to which our everyday experiences are determined by the nature of the world itself versus the extent to which they're determined by the structure of our own minds. Our approach to this question will be multi-faceted, drawing on philosophical texts, films and literary works, as well as our personal experiences. In topic 1, the nature of the world, we'll discuss Realism, Idealism, and Skepticism. Is the world really as it seems intuitively to be to us (Realism) or is it just a projection of our minds (Idealism). In topic 2, the nature of the self, we'll examine (i) what changes you can undergo and still remain yourself, (ii) the extent to which your personality and mind are constructed by you vs. being given to you by nature or upbringing, and (iii) whether genuine relationships exist between you and others or whether it's mostly a projection on your part. In topic 3, the nature of time, we'll examine time. Does only the present moment exist or does reality consist of many moments of time - some past, some present, and some future? Is there really any such thing as time or is it, as Kant says, just a feature of our minds? Does contemporary physics show there's no such thing as time, or is there a way to reconcile the findings of physics with our intuitive view that time exists?
Intended learning outcomes
On completing this subject students will:
- have a critical understanding of the main issues in contemporary analytical metaphysics;
- have developed skills in philosophical reasoning concerning issues covered;
- be in a position to go on to more advanced work in this area.
Last updated: 30 July 2023