PHI301: Modern Philosophy


PHI301: Modern Philosophy

Key details

Accredited towardsBachelor of Arts in the Liberal Arts
Unit typeElective unit
Credit points6
Indicative contact hours3 hours per week
Offered inSemester 1
Tuition feeLearn more



This unit will focus on various threads in the development of philosophy since the 17th century, near the beginning of what we call the Modern Era. By tracing these particular lines of development, we’ll come to see what makes the philosophy of the Modern Era distinctive. One element of this distinctiveness, for example, is a certain sort of emphasis on the human subject or self, and on what is truly knowable by it, as opposed to what might transcend it. Starting with the rationalist Descartes, the father of Modern philosophy, we’ll follow the development of a foundationalist world-picture, predicated on the ‘idea’-idea, through the empiricisms of Locke, Berkeley and Hume. The course will end with a discussion of the transcendental idealism of Kant and its philosophical legacy.


Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit of study, students will:

  1. possess an understanding of the distinctive nature of the philosophical world-view that characterises the Modern Era prior to the 20th century;
  2. possess an in-depth understanding of the debates, between proponents of various sorts of rationalism and empiricism (e.g. Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume);
  3. possess an understanding of the attempt by Kant to sublate these debates within his transcendental idealism, and the manner in which this informs his ethical and anthropological doctrines;
  4. develop an ability to apply knowledge of standard philosophical concepts and theories, in the course of engaging in research on, critical reading of, reflection on, and analysis of presented texts;
  5. be able to exercise and develop further the ability to summarise information and communicate in a persuasive, logical and coherent manner;
  6. be able to competently exhibit in written work clarity of expression, logical essay structure and appropriate use of referencing and bibliography according to the conventions of academic writing; and
  7. to exercise and develop the ability to apply knowledge of standard philosophical concepts and theories in verbal discussion.


Interested in other Philosophy units?

PHI101: Introduction to Philosophy
PHI102: Metaphysics
PHI202: Moral Philosophy
PHI204: Political Philosophy
PHI301: Modern Philosophy
PHI302: Social and Political Philosophy
PHI303: Philosophy of Language
PHI304: Twentieth Century Analytic Philosophy
PHI305: Intensive Study of a Text in Classical Philosophy
PHI306: Intensive Study of a Text in Modern Philosophy



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