Early Modern Philosophy

Subject PHIL40017 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 25-Jul-2016 to 23-Oct-2016
Assessment Period End 18-Nov-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 05-Aug-2016
Census Date 31-Aug-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 23-Sep-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 hours - 1 x 2 hour seminar each week for 12 weeks
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours


Admission to fourth year Honours or the Graduate Diploma (Advanced) in the discipline of Philosophy.

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
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: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Dr Ruth Boeker


Email: rboeker@unimelb.edu.au

Subject Overview:

This subject focuses on a careful study of one or more major works in the history of 17th and 18th century Continental European or British philosophy, such as Spinoza’s Ethics, Locke’s Essay concerning Human Understanding, Leibniz’s New Essays on Human Understanding, Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature, Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.

Many of these texts aim to develop a systematic philosophical theory of the mind, the world, human understanding and/or the limitations of human understanding, human actions and passions. Through a close study of these texts we will be studying influential 17th and/or 18th century approaches to philosophy of mind, metaphysics, epistemology, moral psychology and/or ethics.

Our approach will be both philosophical and interpretive: our chief aim will be to understand the philosophical motivations the thinker(s) had, and to assess them. We will draw attention to responses by other 17th and 18th century philosophers and use comparisons to present-day philosophy wherever helpful.

Learning Outcomes:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • reflect critically upon early modern philosophy and influential 17th and/or 18th century approaches to philosophy of mind, metaphysics, epistemology, moral psychology and/or ethics;
  • identify and analyze philosophical arguments in historical texts;
  • interpret philosophical texts that were written in the 17th and/or 18th century, show awareness of different possible interpretations and learn to assess the strengths and weaknesses of different interpretations;
  • write well-structured and well-argued research essays that explain and critically assess the relevant philosophical views and critically position their own interpretation in relation to other interpretations in the literature;
  • articulate own responses to philosophical views, support them by reasons, and defend them in light of criticism.
  • A short 1000 words essay, due mid semester (10%)
  • A final 4000 words research essay, due at the end of the semester (90%)

Hurdle requirement:

  • Students must attend a minimum of 75% of classes 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 2% per day. After five days late assessment will not be marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked.

Prescribed Texts:

All texts will be available online, a list of acceptable published versions will also be made available.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information: http://shaps.unimelb.edu.au/philosophy
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Graduate Certificate in Arts (Advanced) - Philosophy
Graduate Diploma in Arts (Advanced) - Philosophy
PC-ARTS Philosophy
PD-ARTS Philosophy

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