The Nature of Reality

Subject PHIL20039 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 27-Jul-2015 to 25-Oct-2015
Assessment Period End 20-Nov-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 07-Aug-2015
Census Date 31-Aug-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 25-Sep-2015

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

170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

One of the following subjects is recommended but not required:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
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 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:


Dr Dana Goswick


Dr Dana Goswick

Subject Overview:

Our central question in this subject will be the extent to which our everyday experiences are determined by the nature of the world itself versus the extent to which they're determined by the structure of our own minds. Our approach to this question will be multi-faceted, drawing on philosophical texts, films and literary works, as well as our personal experiences. In Topic 1, Our Access to the External World v. The External World In-Itself, we'll discuss Realism, Idealism, and Skepticism. Is the world really as it seems intuitively to be to us (Realism) or is it just a projection of our minds (Idealism). In Topic 2, Time, we'll look at the nature of time. Does only the present moment exist or does reality consist of many moments of time - some past, some present, and some future? Is there really any such thing as time or is it, as Kant says, just a feature of our minds? Does contemporary physics show there's no such thing as time, or is there a way to reconcile the findings of physics with our intuitive view that time exists? In Topic 3, Event and Causation, we'll look at different philosophical accounts of events and causation. We'll ask questions such as: Are any events instantaneous? Do all events involve change? Is causation a necessary relation of a contingent one?

Learning Outcomes:

On completing this subject students will:

  • have a critical understanding of the main issues in contemporary analytical metaphysics;
  • have developed skills in philosophical reasoning concerning issues covered;
  • be in a position to go on to more advanced work in this area.

Three assignments of 600 words, 15% each (due end of week 4, end of week 8 and end of week 12), one assignment of 2200 words, 55% (due one week after the last lecture).

Hurdle Requirements: A hurdle requirement of a minimum attendance at 80% of tutorials applies in this subject. Regular participation in tutorials is required. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day, after 5 working days late assessment will not be marked. 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 at the university bookshop at the beginning 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
Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Philosophy
Philosophy Major

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