Modern philosophy tends to focus on a range of specific problems. Everyone pays lip service to the big picture, but few philosophers now attempt such a thing, or write about the difficulties involved. Yet if we don't dream of a complete philosophical 'system' it is hard to see the purpose of studying the local problems.
The course will examine the extensive ideas presented by Aristotle, David Hume, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche, each of whom offered wide-ranging views. We will try to identify the core ideas of each system, consider the connections between each area, and weigh up their successes and failures. We will then start with a clean slate, and consider what is needed to put together such a large coherent theory. Is the metaphysics crucial to any system, or can that come later? Are some of the problems insurmountable? Is the enterprise easier than it looks, if we are bold and decisive? Is there one ideal system to aim at, or a few, or can each of us construct our own private worldview?
The course will be ambitious, but will be attempted on the grounds that someone should have a go.
Term Starts: 22nd January
Background Reading List
Scruton, Roger., Modern Philosophy
Stroud, Barry., Hume
Nietzsche, Friedrich., Beyond Good and Evil
Kant, Immanuel., Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic
Kant, Immanuel., Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals
Kant, Immanuel., Political Writings (ed. Hans Reiss)
If you are planning to purchase books, remember that courses with too few students enrolled will be cancelled. The Department accepts no responsibility for books bought in anticipation of a course.
If you have enrolled on a course starting in the autumn, you can become a borrowing member of the Rewley House library from 1st September and we will try to ensure that as many titles as possible are available in the Library by the start of each term. If you are enrolled on a course starting in other terms, you can become a borrowing member once the previous term has ended.
All weekly class students may become borrowing members of the Rewley House Continuing Education Library for the duration of their course. Prospective students whose courses have not yet started are welcome to use the Library for reference. More information can be found on the Library website.
There is a Guide for Weekly Class students which will give you further information.
Availability of titles on the reading list (below) can be checked on SOLO, the library catalogue.
Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.
To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.
Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.
Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from between January 1st and July 31st after the current academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.
Course Fee: £205.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00
Peter taught Philosophy to sixth formers, and has since done a PhD in metaphysics at Birkbeck, University of London. He is Secretary of the Philosophical Society at Rewley House. His website is philosophyideas.com.
To broaden our philosophical thinking, by focusing on how different areas of philosophy fit together, and whether consistency and coherence are possible.
1. To formulate an overview of the whole of philosophy, and grasp the problems of interconnection
2. For each area of philosophy, to understand its unavoidabe presuppositions and implications
3. To begin to pick a personal path through the complexity, based on core personal convictions
The sesssions will be lectures, with opportunities for question and discussion. Each session will focus on a detailed handout, briefly giving the main ideas of the lecture. The full set of ten handouts will summarise the whole course.
By the end of this course students will be expected to:
1. Have acquired a much broader picture of what philosophers are trying to achieve.
2 Recognise the importance of such broad thinking, which is a background to everything we try to reason about
3. Have made progress in examining the consistency and coherence of their own views, in different areas of the subject.
Either a single 1,500 word essay towards the end of the course, or three 500-word pieces at intervals.
Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form.
To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.
Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.
Level and demands
Suitable for beginners, though some knowledge of philosophy would be an obvious advantage.
Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course
Sources of funding
Information on financial support