• Offered by School of Philosophy
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Philosophy
  • Areas of interest Philosophy
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Knox Peden
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2015
    See Future Offerings

This course in the history of philosophy will cover the major texts in the rationalist and empiricist traditions of the early modern period in Europe. Thinkers from Descartes to Hume were the first to articulate problems in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and moral philosophy that continue to shape the nature of philosophical inquiry today, in both the ‘analytic’ and ‘continental’ traditions. The course will provide students with a solid grounding in the canonical texts of modern philosophy, as well as introducing them to the methodological questions raised by studying philosophy in its historical context. In particular the course will consider the self-understanding of these foundational figures in their efforts at once to accommodate the consequences of the Scientific Revolution and to articulate a philosophical alternative to the theological concept of ‘truth’ that had dominated European thought throughout the medieval period. In short, we will address how and in what ways the contested relationship to science and religion is what makes modern philosophy ‘modern’ from its foundations.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon Successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand the early modern history of philosophy, and the conceptual content of rationalism and empiricism as traditions of philosophical inquiry.
  2. Appreciate the contested nature of modern philosophy from its inception.
  3. Deploy a set of concepts and textual references that will be useful for further study in various fields of philosophy.
  4. Demonstrate a capacity for evaluating philosophical arguments on their own terms and with respect to their contexts.

Indicative Assessment

In-class Midterm: 20% (LO 1,2,3,4).

One 2000 word Essay: 35% (LO 3,4)

Final Exam: 35% (LO 1,2,3,4)

Tutorial Participation: 10% (LO 1,2,3,4).

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2 hours of lecture, 1 hour of tutorial, 7 hours of self-directed study per week (total: 130 hours over the semester).

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 12 units of courses towards a degree.

Prescribed Texts

Ariew, Roger and Eric Watkins (edt). Modern Philosophy: An Anthology of Primary Sources (2nd Edt), 2009, Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis.

Preliminary Reading

Descartes, Discourse on Method & Meditations

Spinoza, Ethics

Leibniz, Monadology

Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Berkeley, A Treatise Concerning the Nature of Human Knowledge

Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics

Assumed Knowledge

PHIL1004 and PHIL1007 are recommended.





Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $2604
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $3576
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3565 16 Feb 2015 06 Mar 2015 31 Mar 2015 29 May 2015 In Person N/A

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