The Foundations of Interpretation

Subject PHIL30024 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 29-Feb-2016 to 29-May-2016
Assessment Period End 24-Jun-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 11-Mar-2016
Census Date 31-Mar-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 06-May-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 35 hours - 2 x 1-hour lectures each week and 1x 1-hour tutorial in weeks 2-12
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

12.5 points (one subject) in either philosophy, social theory, linguistics, or literary theory.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Dr Francois Schroeter



Subject Overview:

This subject explores the theories of meaning and interpretation developed in contemporary European thought. We will examine questions such as: Is the meaning of a text determined by the author's intentions? Does what we write or say have a single determinate meaning or can conflicting interpretations be equally valid? Is there a robust distinction between fiction and non-fiction? Can philosophy of art help clarify how a text should be interpreted? Major thinkers discussed will include Heidegger, Gadamer, Habermas, Sassure, Barthes, Derrida and Butler. We will also consider whether radical interpretation – the interpretation of language as a totally foreign culture – is possible, and if so by which methods (Quine, Davidson).

Learning Outcomes:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • have a broad grasp of a variety of competing theories and understand what would be involved in applying them to a critical reading of texts;
  • have a greater awareness of the assumptions that are reinforced or challenged by different reading practices;
  • engage critically with existing philosophical conversations and develop the capacity for critical and creative interventions in those discussions;
  • demonstrate a high-level of fluency in communication and collaboration skills, including oral and written presentation of arguments and effective work in small and large groups;
  • be prepared to engage with the possibility of radical critique of their own presuppostions and commitments.
  • A 2000 word essay, due mid-semester (50%)
  • A take-home examination of 2000 words, due during the end of semester examination period (50%)

Hurdle requirement:

  • Students must attend a minimum of 75% of tutorials in order to pass this subject.
  • All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Note: Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. After five days late assessment will not be marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked.

Prescribed Texts:

Readings will be available online

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: European Studies
Graduate Certificate in Arts - Philosophy
Graduate Certificate in Arts - Social Theory
Graduate Diploma in Arts - Philosophy
Philosophy Major
Social Theory

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