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Reason, many believe, is what makes us human. Until recently, most scientists and philosophers agreed that the ability to use the mind to analyse and interpret the world is something intrinsic to the nature of our species. Reason has a long and extraordinary history. We will explore a number of inter-related themes: the nature of reason from Ancient Greece to our contemporary world; the ever shifting relationship between reason and faith; reason's place in the development of scientific experimentation and thinking; shifting perspectives about the uses of Reason and, finally, how reason relates to theories of the mind, exploring the tensions between reason, the passions and the will.
Reason will take you on a journey from Plato's cave to the neuro-scientists' lab. We will visit revolutions in science, thinking and politics. We will explore the impact of some of the great philosophers of history, including Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Bentham, Coleridge, Marx, Nietzsche, Foucault and many more besides. By the end of this subject you will have a deep understanding of the importance of the idea of reason to human history and philosophy. You might, even, be able to answer the question: 'does reason exist?'
Reason is an Arts Foundation Subject and we will argue that understanding the history and philosophy of reason provides great insights into many aspects of the humanities from political philosophy to understanding history. We will, of course, be paying particular attention to the foundational skills that will help you successfully complete your Arts major: particularly critical thinking and argument development.
Intended learning outcomes
Students who complete this subject should be able to:
- identify and locate relevant resources using library and other (web-based) databases and search tools
- understand and use academic bibliographic conventions of citation and referencing
- describe and analyse the uses of reason in the following domains: philosophy; science; faith and religion; and identity
- formulate arguments about the uses of reason
Students who complete this subject should develop skills in:
- Critical and analytical (including argument identification and analysis);
- Communication (written and oral);
- Teamwork / Collaboration (during tutorials and workshops);
- Engagement (with real world ideas and problems);
- Cultural and Social Alignment of values (through understanding the impact of Reason on society and culture through the ages)
Last updated: 29 April 2020