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Philosophy has been called ‘the Queen of the Sciences’ and to this day the questions it poses are fundamental to disciplines across the university. In ‘Big Questions,’ you are introduced to the state-of-the-art problems in contemporary philosophy. But philosophy has a history, which invites us to consider how a discipline that attempts to arrive at fundamental truths can have so much difficulty finding agreement on issues of perennial concern: What am I essentially? What is truth? What is good? This course introduces students to fundamental debates in philosophy by revisiting the texts of great thinkers across history and cultures. The course begins by considering classical Greek thinkers from Plato to Aristotle before turning to the metaphysical issues raised in the Buddhist tradition. The second half of the course looks at two pillars of modern philosophy, Descartes and Kant, and will consider such issues as the nature of the self, the notion of beauty, and the place – or not – of divinity in nature. Since philosophy has a history, it remains an unfinished business. In this course students will learn how to evaluate philosophical arguments by reckoning with some of the greatest minds and most provocative claims in the history of the field.
Intended learning outcomes
Students who successfully complete this subject will:
- appreciate aspects of what it means to be a human being through the study of central works in the philosophical traditions;
- identify and define key philosophical concepts;
- read historical texts with particular focus on the philosophical arguments that are presented in these texts;
- interpret texts that were written in the history of philosophy;
- write well-structured and well-argued short essays that accurately explain and critically assess philosophical views;
- articulate their own responses to philosophical views, support them by reasons and defend them in light of criticism.
Last updated: 16 June 2020