The Foundations of Interpretation

Subject PHIL30024 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2011.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 3 (2 x 1 hour lectures per week for the first 12 weeks and 1 x 1 hour tutorial for 11 weeks)
Total Time Commitment: An average of 8.5 hours each week
Prerequisites: None.
Corequisites: None.
Recommended Background Knowledge: At least 12.5 points (one subject) in either philosophy or European studies.
Non Allowed Subjects: Students who have completed 161-021 or 672344 (From Hermeneutics to Derrida) are not permitted to enrol in this subject.
Core Participation Requirements: For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:
Subject Overview:

This subject explores the theories of meaning and interpretation developed in contemporary European thought. We will examine questions such as: What is it to interpret a text? 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? How does an interpretation differ from a deconstruction? Major authors discussed will be chosen from Heidegger, Gadamer, Habermas, Freud, Derrida, Barthes, and Foucault. We will also compare European approaches with analytic Anglo-American theories of interpretation advocated by Quine, Davidson, and Lewis. On completion of this subject students should have broad grasp of a variety of competing theories and understand what would be involved in applying them to a critical reading of texts.


Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • have a general knowledge of some central themes in contemporary European philosophy.
  • understand how those themes arose from and critically relate to earlier philosophical theories.
  • be able to apply the methods and theses advanced in contemporary European philosophical texts to current issues and problems.
  • be able to clearly explicate and explain the central themes and theses discussed in the subject.
  • demonstrate an ability to critically examine philosophical arguments and theses.
  • acquire an ability to uncover the presuppositions at work in a text.
  • acquire an appreciation of the factors which govern interpretations of a text.
Assessment: A written assignment of 2000 words 50% (due mid-semester), a 2-hour closed-book written examination 50% (held at the end of the semester). This subject has a minimum hurdle requirement of 75% tutorial attendance. Regular participation in tutorials is required. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject
Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available from the bookshop at the start of semester.

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
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • develop skills in critical thinking and analysis.
  • have improved their ability to think creatively.
  • develop skills in written communication.
Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Anthropology and Social Theory
European Studies
European Studies Major
Philosophy Major
Philosophy and Social Theory
Social Theory

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