PI1011: History of Philosophy I A

Module Content

This is an historically–based course, running for two years. In the first year there are the following components:

Component 1: Ancient PhilosophyPauline Sabrier(email)

The aim of this course-module is to introduce students to some philosophers, and some topics, in Ancient Philosophy; and to do so by a selective sampling of a few central items and by looking, in some detail, at some central texts. The topics will be, generally, in the area of metaphysics and logic.
We begin with Parmenides, and the topic of the relation between thinking and being; a topic that has remained at the heart of philosophy ever since.
We turn next to Heraclitus and the topic of plurality, opposition, and unity. Next, we turn, at greater length, to Plato, beginning with his method of argument and enquiry. Here we consider, in particular, first, the demand for definitions and essences, and, secondly, aporia as the root of philosophy enquiry. We move onto Plato’s peculiar theory of essence, the Theory of Forms. We consider this theory in its own right, and also as the outgrowth of the method of argument and enquiry. Finally, we consider Aristotle’s competing theory of essence; how it builds on, on how it differs from, Plato’s.


Component 2: Medieval PhilosophyProf. Paul O'Grady (email)

The time scale of medieval philosophy is very long, from Augustine (354-430) to William of Ockham (d.1347). The philosophers of this period built on and developed ancient philosophy, especially the thought of Plato and Aristotle, mediated though later Greek schools, such as Neoplatonism. Many of the major philosophers of the period were concerned with relating philosophy to the Abrahamic religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Given the diversity of strands and figures in this period, the course will begin and end with a survey of main figures and historical movements, but will focus on two key figures of the period. We will begin with Augustine, examining how he brought Greek philosophy into dialogue with Christianity and looking specifically at his rejection of skepticism and his positive account of knowledge. Then we will move on to Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and explore his general metaphysical system, as well as his account of mind. Hence this course will examine an influential epistemological position, an influential metaphysical position and an influential account of mind from the medieval period.

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module, students will be able to:

Assessment Details

For PI1012 (5 ECTS) students are required to submit one essay from the set list of essay titles for this module and sit a one hour exam (answering one question, from a list of questions for that module, which must be from the component for which the essay was NOT submitted) during the annual examination period.