Descartes, Thought and Reality module (PI11007)

Journey into the realms of thought and reality through this dynamic course on modern philosophy.

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This module provides an introduction to the ground-breaking work of René Descartes, and to readings of influential modern philosophers of his work that shaped the modern world.

You will uncover the minds that shape today's philosophical discussions as we dive into the rich tapestry of contemporary philosophy. The first six weeks will cover Descartes' ground-breaking Meditations, a text that laid the foundations for modern philosophical thinking.

We will then study why Descartes' work is considered pivotal in shaping the philosophical landscape. Engage in lively debates and learn the art of challenging Descartes' ideas on the fundamental themes he introduces to modern thought.

Immerse yourself in a diverse range of thought by examining the viewpoints of influential thinkers such as Nagel, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Freud, and Nietzsche. This module will broaden your horizons and ignite your passion for philosophical inquiry.

What you will learn:

In this module you will:

  • gain substantial understanding of Descartes' Meditations
  • explore various philosophical perspectives beyond Descartes, including those of Nagel, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Freud, and Nietzsche
  • broaden your understanding of philosophical inquiry and its relevance to modern thought and society
  • gain insight into contemporary philosophical discussions and the contributions of influential thinkers
  • develop critical thinking skills by engaging in debates and challenging Descartes' philosophical arguments
  • cultivate a deeper appreciation for the complexities and nuances of philosophical discourse

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • understand the foundations of modern philosophical thinking through Descartes' Meditations
  • advance your understanding of various influential thinkers
  • participate in intellectual conversations that shape the world of ideas and perspectives
  • engage in debates challenging Descartes' philosophical arguments

Assignments / assessment

  • weekly questions (20%)
  • worksheets (20%)
  • essay 1,200 words (60%)

This module does not have a final exam.

Teaching methods / timetable

  • lectures
  • tutorials


This module is available on following courses: