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The Philosophy subject stream engages a 2500 year tradition of philosophising, extending from 500 BC Greece right up to contemporary philosophers' influences on ethics and politics, culture and media. Students are also taught to reflect personally on the issues and to think critically and independently. Students will encounter the work of major philosophers in seeking to answer such existential questions as 'what is truth?', 'what is happiness and how can we find it?' and 'how should one live?' Additionally, modules will look at more specialised questions such as 'what is the nature of art?', 'how should we organise our politics and society?' and 'what can philosophy tell us about religious belief and unbelief?'
The information below is provided in order that students may gain a reasonable impression of module content. This information is also provided specifically so that students may use it to inform any exemption applications they may make. However, modules are regularly updated and therefore the content of these modules, may differ from what is stated below.
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For full module information please click on the relevant module title below.
This introductory module in Philosophy seeks to initiate students into philosophical enquiry through a foundation in their own experience and reflection initially, whilst combining a strong but accessible reference to more recent approaches in philosophy with a clear and lively historical survey of the subject. Emphasising depth rather than breadth, this approach to philosophy seeks to familiarise students with the fundamental questions of philosophy through focus on the specific paradigm moments of thought, from the Presocratics through Plato and Aristotle, up to Descartes and modern thoughts and leading up to contemporary thought. With the latter, Existentialism most especially serves as a case study, with its reemphasis on individual experience and reflection, as well as its connection to literature, cinema and politics. The course also strongly foregrounds introductory approaches to philosophy which employ extra-philosophical resources from culture and the arts (particularly in the case of cinema), whilst also culminating in a strong emphasis on the relation between philosophy and education, both in terms of theory but also in terms of applied practice in curriculum and schooling. Students will begin to attain specific Philosophical skills through studying this module, such as formulating strong arguments and identifying mistakes in the arguments of others. The essential study skills that must be attained in order to succeed in studying Philosophy at third level and beyond are also a core focus in this foundation level module.
PH200: What can I know? The Philosophy of Knowledge
In this intermediate module students will be introduced to the study of knowledge as such, or what in philosophy is referred to as the discipline of epistemology. This module will take a primarily thematic approach which nonetheless is grounded in the various historical epochs of philosophy. Starting with the figure of Socrates and his declaration "know thyself", the first part of the course will explore philosophy as a way of life and a journey towards self-knowledge. Here, we will move from the Socratic moment through to later Stoic exercises in self-understanding. Next, the emergence of more faith based understandings of knowledge in the medieval period will be examined. Augustine's theological dictum of "faith seeking understanding" will be the central starting point of this discussion. The emergence of modern philosophy is explored throught the revolution in the concepts of knowledge and doubt which Descartes introduces. Following on from this, later modern thought calls into question the very basis and justification for epistemology itself, with Nietzsche especially. The introduction of the concept of the unconscious in psychoanalysis emerges in more recent times and will be investivated through the work of various thinkers. The final part of the course looks at the question of the so called politics of knowledge, with particular reference to feminism.
The first part of this module introduces students to the practice and theory of ethics and moral philosophy. Students will study the role of ethics in clarifying, testing and systematising our common-sense moral beliefs and facilitating their application to issues such as the enforcement of morality under the law, freedom of expression and censorship and abortion.
What is art? What is beauty? How do we identify what is artistic and beautiful (and what is not) in the world around us? The second part of this module looks at how Philosophy can help us to better understand and question art, from classical to contemporary approaches, through the study of a number of philosophical problems and debates.
PH220: Philsophy of Education: Teaching, Theory and Practice
This module seeks to explore the original connections between philosophy and education beginning in the early Greek period whilst also providing a practical introduction to teaching philosophy (and related subjects) in contemporary schools. It also foregrounds the historical development of this relationship between philosophy and education in the modern period and with a particular emphasis on recent developments in philosophy of education and curriculum. Different pedagogies of teaching philosophies in schools are analysed as a key part of the course, particularly philosophy with children and the community of enquiry for all ages. The most important theorists in the history of education from Plato through to Rousseau, Dewey and Noddings are examined in detail on the course.
This module has as its focus two fascinating fields of Philosophical study that focus on fundamental aspects of the human experience. Part 1 of this module examines what philosophy can teach us about religious belief and unbelief. Students are encouraged to think about the nature of religion, and the claims made by different religious believers, from a Philosophical perspective. Students will also study the relationship between science and religion.
Part 2 of this module explores the tradition of metaphysics in Philosophy. Metaphysics is the attempt to study the ultimate nature of reality. Students will tackle questions of personal identity and free will as they study personal metaphysics, as well as more fundamental puzzles such as the nature of properties, for example shapes.
Phil6: Contemporary Philosophy
Philosophy continues to have a powerful influence on contemporary society and thinking, often without its influence being recognised by those on whom it has an impact. This module explores some of the major individuals and schools of thought in this respect, from Hegel and Heidegger to Beauvoir, Levinas and Derrida.
Students on this module complete a dissertation on a specialised topic and/or philosopher instead of a final examination.