History of Early Modern Philosophy

Subject PHIL20043 (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 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 02-Mar-2015 to 31-May-2015
Assessment Period End 26-Jun-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 13-Mar-2015
Census Date 31-Mar-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 08-May-2015

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

170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Students who have not studied Descartes' Meditations previously are encouraged to read them in preparation for this subject.

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: http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/disability/


Dr Ruth Boeker


Ruth Boeker


Subject Overview:

This subject offers an introduction to philosophical debates in early modern philosophy from Descartes to Kant. Questions that were controversially debated during the period inlcude the following: How can we acquire knowledge that is absolutely certain? How can I know that an external world exists outside my own mind? Is my mind an immaterial substance that is distinct from material bodies? What is the relation between mind and body? Can I know that my experiences inhere in an immaterial rather than a material substance? What is a substance? What are the limitations of human understanding? What is a self or person? How do persons continue to exist over time? What role do questions of moral responsibility play in theories of personal identity? In this subject you will enter into a dialogue with early modern thinkers and search for your own answers to their questions. We will trace the historical development of theories concerning knwowledge and skepticism, the mind-body relation, substance, causation, and personal identity through the study of texts in the period from Descartes to Kant.

Learning Outcomes:

Student who successfully complete this subject will:

  • reflect critically upon debates in early modern philosophy and the philosophical problems that continue to influence debates in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind and ethics;
  • identitfy key philosophical concepts and show awareness of potential problems that led to the revision and refinement of these concepts in the historical debates;
  • interpret philosophical texts that were written in the 17th and 18th centuries;
  • write well-structured and well argues essays that explain and critically assess philosophical views covered in this subject;
  • articulate own responses to philosophical views, support them by reasons and defend them in light of criticism;
  • collaborate effectively and respectfully with other team members, listen to and learn from others and make well considered team decisions

A 1250 word essay, 30% (due mid semester), readiness assurance tests, equivalent to 750 words, 15% (due thoughout the semester), a take-home exam 2000 words, 50% (due in examination period), peer assessment, 5% (throughout 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. 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. Students will be asked to complete short assessment tasks on a continuous basis inside and outside the classroom. Some of these tasks will be completed in teams. These tasks will be assessed as satisfactory/unsatisfactory and at least 70% of these tasks have to be completed satisfactorily to pass the subject.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader twill be made available before 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
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Philosophy

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