Philosophy and Religious (PHIL)
This subject introduces students to ethical enquiry - the ways in which we explain what is right and wrong behaviour, perceive good and evil, and try to deal with the different values people hold. Philosophy has long traditions of debating ethical matters, and offers perspectives for trying to answer our ethical questions: this subject introduces the most important and established of those fundamental perspectives, and explains how they arose in their social and historical contexts. The philosophical material will be also be explored through practical examples and questions from contemporary life, in order to enable students to consider ethics today and the sorts of issues they might face.
The Islamic canon is comprised of two chief sources: Qur'an and Hadith. Muslim life is governed by the manner in which these are understood and applied to the everyday. Whilst the Qur'an is the foundational corpus of the religion, it does not provide specifics on many facets of social and political activity. For this, Muslims rely on sunnah: "habitual practice", which is the body of traditional social and legal custom and practice of the Islamic community. The specialised documentation of Hadith (sayings or actions attributed to the Prophet) made this body of text a reliable and favoured method of knowing the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad. In this subject students will explore the origin and development of hadith, its sources, and function in Muslim life.
Islam is a way of life which is governed by the Qur'an, the Muslim principal source of guidance. However, while the Qur'an is the foundation of authority in Islam, it provides few legal injunctions. Hadith (the saying, deeds and actions of Prophet Muhammad) forms the basis for the details of Islamic law and for many tenets of Islamic creed. This subject introduces students to the second most fundamental source of Islam, Hadith. It aims to familiarise students with the origins of the Hadith, its overall structure, content and importantly, its function in Muslim living and to assist them in understanding contemporary issues and debates surrounding Islam.
This subject introduces psychology students to the basic aspects of reasoning and argument, with particular emphasis on psychological and scientific thinking. It aims to help students develop the skills needed to understand and evaluate psychological research and the processes of scientific reasoning, and to present their own ideas and arguments effectively. Topics covered include: barriers to critical thinking; nonrational forms of persuasion; the structure of arguments; the concepts of knowledge, belief, truth, validity, soundness, values; linguistics sources of confusion; evaluating arguments; formal and informal fallacies in reasoning; deduction and induction in science; arguments related to enduring debates and worldviews in psychology.
This subject is an introduction to Western philosophical inquiry: it looks at fundamental questions we have about the way we think of the world around us, and the way we act. It presupposes no prior knowledge of philosophy. We will examine philosophical issues by looking at classic statements from the philosophical tradition. The subject will also help students to develop their skills in writing clear arguments. After completion of the subject students will have a critical understanding of some of the fundamental ideas that shape our thinking and our world.
What does it mean to live a "good life"? One conception of philosophy that goes back to the teachings of the ancient Greeks and Romans is that it is the discipline pre-eminently concerned with teaching people how to live a good life. This subject will investigate the idea of "the good life" through an examination of select texts in ancient and modern philosophy. It will address questions that both ancient and modern philosophers have grappled with: on the right relation between reason and emotion, on the role of pleasure in human life, on the development of character, on the "care of the self," and on pursuing a meaningful life.
This subject introduces students to time-honoured ethical questions and controversies. The issues to be examined point to questions that students are likely to face at some stage during their lives: Is death always a bad thing? Is abortion immoral? Are we obligated to give to charity? Should we be vegetarian? Should you have sex outside of a committed relationship? Is ethics founded upon religion, reason or community standards? As well as examining specific issues, students will be introduced to the leading secular and theistic ethical theories.
This subject is an introduction, in English translation, to the most important text of Islam, the Qur'an, which Muslims regard as the primary source of Islam. Students will study: the origins of the Qur'an, its overall structure and content, major themes, approaches to its interpretation, and its function in Muslim religious, social, cultural and political life. The themes and topics covered (such as God, ethics, women, state, inter-faith relations, and violence) should assist students in understanding contemporary debates on the relevance of Islam today.
This subject is an introduction, in English translation, to the most important text of Islam, the Qur'an, which Muslims regard as the primary source of Islam. Students will study: the origins of the Qur'an, its overall structure and content, major themes, approaches to its interpretation and its function in Muslim religious, social, cultural and political life. The themes and topics covered (such as God, ethics, women, state, inter-faith relations and violence) should assist students in understanding contemporary debates on the relevance of Islam today.
This subject involves detailed study of a thinker whose work has had a significant influence on how we understand the world. The subject will focus on the thinker's important primary texts, and any other writings that aid an understanding of their contribution to philosophical tradition, ethics, politics, and culture in general. Students will study how the philosopher's ideas have been original, and influenced others to see the world and themselves in new ways. A different philosopher will be the focus of study each year. Thinkers that may be studied in depth include Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Locke, Spinoza, Kant, Kierkegaard, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Arendt, Foucault, Derrida and Girard.
Through close examinations of key philosophical and theoretical writings on film, this subject considers the many ways in which cinema has been 'thought' throughout its short history. Incorporating ontological, phenomenological, psychoanalytic, poststructuralist, cognitivist and other approaches, the subject explores the ways in which key philosophical and theoretical concepts have been taken up and addressed by film, in addition to considering the ways in which cinema can be seen to 'think' for itself.
Attaining knowledge and defining truth are fundamental concerns for all university studies. Philosophy has a long history of explaining what constitutes truth, and how we know what counts as legitimate knowledge. This subject introduces students to the most important conceptions of truth and knowledge, and explains the fundamental methods of reasoning and testing knowledge claims established through the Western philosophical tradition. It should be useful to both studentsspecialising in philosophy, and those interested in discovering more about how knowledge is justified and standards of truth established.
The major social and political philosophy of the West, from the 5th century BC Greece till the 18th century will be examined. The development of ideas of citizenship, subjectivity, freedom, equality and the democratic state will be explored. The influence of Christianity will also be a major theme. Authors will include: Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, More, Hobbes, Locke, Vico, Rousseau.
The major philosophies of art will be examined. The Western tradition will be surveyed from the Ancient Greeks through medieval and Renaissance theories of art to modern and postmodern aesthetics beginning with Kant. Marxist and feminist aesthetics will be especially emphasised. The artistic material will primarily come from the visual arts.
This subject involves an in-depth study of a philosophical text that has reshaped our understanding about the world we live in. The close reading and discussion will develop the students' capacity to read and think deeply about particular problems. Students will follow the text step by step, gaining insights as to why it has had such a lasting influence.
Classics of Modern Philosophy introduces students to a selected number of 'great' (highly influential) philosophical texts from the seventeenth up to the twentieth century. Addressing fundamental issues such as human freedom, the nature of truth and knowledge, technological progress, problems of modern life, this subject guides students through key statements with supporting explanation of the philosophers, their projects and careers, and relevant social contexts.
This subject introduces students to the rich heritage of ethical traditions in Islamic thought. Students will study and critically evaluate the key features and contributions of Muslim theologians, philosophers and Sufis, who attempted to deal with revelation and rationalistic discourse in exploring the meaning of ethical life for Muslims and discussing whether philosophy and religious wisdoms were equals and allies in the pursuit of happiness. The origin and development of these traditions will be introduced with an emphasis on the relevance and application of some ethical issues, such as free will, predestination, human responsibility, and bioethics, to contemporary Muslim societies.
The Western experience of the fundamental questions of love and death will be examined. What is love? Is love between friends more important than romantic love? Is death always a bad thing? Is 'coming to terms with death' important for a meaningful life? Ancient Greek, Christian and medieval attitudes will be contrasted with romantic and contemporary views.
Philosophy and Environment focuses on how we understand and value our interactions with the natural environment, how humans have changed the world and themselves through those interactions and the questions and problems created through that dynamic. Contemporary issues such as climate change, resource depletion, land degradation, conflict over resources, and treatment of animals have become prominent ethical, political and philosophical concerns. This subject looks at these sort of environmental problems through philosophical methods that reveal the traditions of thought, attitude and action underlying them. Students will be introduced to the major approaches and questions most relevant to explaining contemporary environmental problems.
What is History? This question has been an object of inquiry as much for philosophers as for historians themselves. Large historical forces were at work in the Enlightenment--both in the sciences and in politics--and philosophers like Rousseau and Kant sought to understand these movements philosophically. For Rousseau, the lens was genealogical as he worked to produce a "natural history" of politics and society; for Kant, the historical lens was teleological as he narrated instead a philosophical history full of notions of progress and improvement. In the 19th century, philosophers like Hegel and Marx were concerned to think about history as a dialectical movement, while Nietzsche applied Darwin's new theory of evolution to his understanding of history and morals alike. The great shockwaves wrought by the two World Wars of the 20th century brought new philosophical writers to the problem of history, though now with an eye back toward the seemingly failed vision of inevitable progress so successfully peddled by the Enlightenment. This philosophical tradition and its changing approaches to history will be the focus of this unit.
This subject examines central issues in the philosophy of religion. Students will look at a variety of ideas emanating from a philosophical consideration of religious belief and practice. Issues include arguments for and against the existence of God, conceptions of religious experience and faith, the relationship between science and religion, and religion and ethics.
This subject introduces students to key theorists, concepts, and debates in socio-cultural studies of embodiment. The first module introduces the field of study and explores influential perspectives on bodies as biocultural and social. The subject explores topics such as the social brain, culture and the senses, the modern 'civilised' body, sexed and racialised bodies, ableism and bodily diversity. It will demonstrate how even colonialism, multiculturalism and socio-economic inequalities are lived on the skin, in the body and through the senses. The second module explores current debates and body politics and the content is determined in collaboration with enrolled students. The topics can be as diverse as digital self-tracking; 'fat wars'; race and cosmetic surgery; bodies as commodities, and; sexual difference and sport.
This subject focuses on philosophical approaches to race and racism. Academic discourse about race sits at the intersection of overlapping research programs taking place in a number of fields including cultural anthropology, the history of science, sociology, political theory, communication studies, and critical philosophy of race. This subject will draw on discussions from a number of these fields. Students will interrogate the ways in which subjects are racialized, both by culture and by the state. They will analyse major texts concerned with race and racism, and examine and critique the role of ignorance within racist discourse.
The end of the Peloponnesian War marks the end of the classical period in the history of Ancient Greece. The rise of the Macedonian Empire and then of the Roman Republic prompted the ancients to reflect on their social and political existence. In this subject you will examine how the schools of thought from the Hellenistic period onwards influenced the history, politics and culture of the period. The competing conceptions of thought and action had a profound influence in the history of the political events, economic arrangements, and technological progress of the period.
Advance Research Project in Philosophy enables students with significant knowledge in philosophy and some experience in research techniques and methodologies in philosophy to plan and draft a philosophical project. By identifying a significant question suitable for graduate-level research, students will each develop an individual written project that articulates a coherent philosophical perspective. The aim of the subject is to develop students' capacity to employ philosophical vocabularies and specific discourses in an advanced and sophisticated way.
Since the beginning of philosophy, the question of how to live has taken on an indefinite variety of forms, as befits the variability of its subject matter. This includes the Platonic and Aristotelian conception of the good life, the Kantian categorical imperative, and social ethics. In recent Continental philosophy, this has encompassed the ethics of responsibility, the attempt to investigate the ethics of alterity, interest in the 'care-of-the-self', and the ethics of truth.
Ideas matter. It has been said that "ideas are what men and women live by, and will occasionally die for." If you want to explore and understand the relationship between ideas and actions across a range periods, places and perspectives, then this is the subject for you. The history of ideas is concerned with exploring and understanding the lived experience, the reality of ideas. We consider how the history of ideas can help us to interpret key thinkers and their ideas and how these ideas have shaped societies past and present.
In this unit, those enrolled in the MA in Continental Philosophy will write a minor thesis on a research question in philosophy. For this project, the students will be supervised by one or two members of staff working in philosophy.
This subject involves study of aesthetics, which may include philosophical approaches to art and artistic genres such as literature and cinema, and to beauty itself. It will include an historical overview of the field, an analysis of one particular set of problems or debates, and a close examination of a specific school or thinker. It will explore concepts of aesthetic judgement and value, as well as the relationship between aesthetics and other aspects of philosophy.
The relationship between philosophy and literature is as old as philosophy itself. In fact, philosophy begins and defines itself in Ancient Greece by setting itself apart from literature - specifically, epic and tragic writings - and claiming for itself a more original role in the effort to understand what is true, what matters, and how one should be with others. From Ancient Greece, through Hellenism and the Roman world, and into the Medieval and Modern periods there was an enduring concern in philosophical traditions with literature, literary themes, and questions of style. However, at the end of the Modern period the concern with literature became so pronounced that philosophers began to write literary texts and to experiment with new styles of expression. Beginning with Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, and moving up to Sartre and Camus, this question of the relation of philosophy and literature has become a central concern of many contemporary philosophical traditions. This subject will be devoted to exploring both the history of this relation between philosophy and literature, as well as looking more carefully at various moments in that history.
What is History? What justifies the State? These questions have been an object of inquiry as much for philosophers as for historians and political theorists. Large socio-political forces were at work during the Enlightenment and philosophers like Rousseau and Kant sought to understand these movements philosophically. For Rousseau, the lens was genealogical as he worked to produce a "natural history" of politics and society; for Kant, the historical lens was teleological as he narrated instead a philosophical history full of notions of progress and improvement. In the 19th century, philosophers like Hegel and Marx were concerned to think about history and politics as a dialectical movement, while Nietzsche applied Darwin's new theory of evolution to his understanding of history and morals alike. The great shockwaves wrought by the two World Wars of the 20th century brought new philosophical writers to the problems of history and politics, though now with an eye back toward the seemingly failed vision of inevitable progress so successfully peddled by the Enlightenment. This philosophical tradition and its changing approaches to history and politics will be the focus of this unit.
This subject examines questions and problems concerning the concept of nature or 'naturalness'. What does it mean to call something 'natural' and how are natural things to be distinguished from artificial things or things that are human made? How does technology influence our understanding of nature? What are the ethical implications arising from human relations with the natural world? As well learning time-honoured answers to such questions, students will appreciate the practical relevance of philosophical theorising about nature.
The focus of this subject will be a topic, or range of topics, particularly relevant in philosophy, which will be analysed both in their historical context and through subsequent interpretations by other philosophers or philosophical traditions. The subject will combine the hermeneutic interpretation of texts together with conceptual and argumentative analysis. Close attention will be paid to the language and systematic content of the philosophical issues examined. Moreover, students will be guided in factoring in the historical situation both for the philosopher(s) examined and for us as interpreters.
According to Aristotle's famous definition, the human is a political animal. Since the first theorization of the political in ancient Greek philosophy, politics has been thought from a variety of different angles. These range from traditional approaches such as the forms of government or the ways in which the sovereign can exercise power, to contemporary alternative approaches, such as theories of radical democracy which emphasize the participatory and agonistic aspects of the political. This subject will cover some fundamental texts and ideas in political philosophy.
The subject Practical Philosophy deals with the application of philosophical understanding to human activity. 'Practical philosophy' in principle encompasses questions of the meaning and appropriateness of various practices, as well as theoretical questions about the nature of practices themselves, questions such as 'What should we do?' and 'What is it that we are doing?' The subject may thus involve considering philosophical perspectives on ethical, political, educational, and legal questions, and more abstract considerations relating to practices such as the philosophy of action.
Research Project in Philosophy develops research techniques, understanding of methodologies, and procedures in planning and drafting a philosophical project. Through identifying contemporary issues and questions suitable for graduate-level research. Students will each develop an individual written project that articulates a coherent philosophical perspective. The aim of the subject is to develop students' understanding of philosophical vocabularies, specific discourses, and logics as they pertain to a particular philosophical issue or problem that they will address in writing.
The Special Topics in Philosophy subject engages with current debates and developments in philosophy. These contemporary debates will be contextualized within the historical and conceptual framework of the continental tradition of philosophical inquiry. Engagement with contemporary topics in philosophy and the most recent developments in the field will enable students to find what is innovative and original in their own thought and field of research.
Working on the assumption that art is capable of exploring philosophical issues in its own right, the subject considers how various arts from poetry to contemporary film help shape our understanding of things like metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and morality.
Theoretical Philosophy focuses on theories of knowledge, theories of being, and systems of thought. While it is traditionally described under the heading of epistemology and metaphysics, theoretical philosophy should be more broadly understood as devoted to philosophical investigations into the underlying systems, theories, and presuppositions upon which any account of the world, experience, or even truth has been built. This subject will be devoted to an explication of either thematically related theoretical investigations, such as, for example, '17th-century theories of matter,' or 'the nature of language,' or it will focus instead on one central philosophical figure, e.g., 'Plato's metaphysics of the soul,' 'Kant's system of transcendental idealism,' etc.
This subject surveys selected philosophers or philosophical movements in the history of philosophy, and of the relevance of such philosophical perspectives for contemporary debates. The subject will include a selection of material that will give students a deeper understanding of the history of philosophy from Ancient Greece to the present day.
The 'Muslim question' has been a topic of interest to Western scholarship for over four hundred years. The subject addresses this question in two ways: firstly, by exploring internal historical conceptualisations of the faith-identity of Islam, and examining how these have shaped modern understandings of Islam from within the faith; secondly, by introducing students to multidisciplinary approaches to the study of Islam and inviting them to consider the construction and deconstruction of Islamic Studies as a field of study at various stages of history. The subject provides students with the opportunity to gain increased awareness of both debates within the field and those that scrutinise the field, that is, becoming comfortable with interrogating the cluster of theoretical and methodological strategies for scholarly inquiry into the study of Islam.