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Unit information: Texts in Early Modern Philosophy: Empiricism in 2016/17

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Unit name Texts in Early Modern Philosophy: Empiricism
Unit code PHIL10031
Credit points 10
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Pyle
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The course will consider a key text in early modern philosophy's empiricist cannon (for example: Locke's Essay on Human Understanding, Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Berkeley's Three Dialogues) and engage with it philosophically.


The unit aims to bring to life a seminal text in early modern philosophy by engaging critically with its arguments. The unit aims to establish this work as philosophically interesting in its own right and of interest to contemporary philosophers.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this course, students will:

(1) have a thorough knowledge of a key text from early modern philosophy.

(2) be familiar with some key secondary literature on this text, and be able to engage critically with it.

(3) be able to engage critically with the author's positions and arguments.

(4) be in a position to relate some key ideas in this text to modern philosophical debates.

Teaching details

11 one-hour lectures

Assessment Details

One 2000-3000 word essay, from a list of questions designed to test intended learning outcomes (1), (2), (3) and (4).

Reading and References

The target text.

At least one contemporaneous text.

At least one modern introduction to the target philosopher/text.

Illustrative examples:

  • Key text: John Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689, OUP Clarendon Edition 1975);
  • secondary text: Cambridge Companion to Locke, ed Newman, (Cambridge University Press, 2007)