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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Theology and Ethics

Undergraduate Course: Metaphysics and Morality (THET10016)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines the relationship between metaphysics and morality in German philosophy from Kant to Arendt, including the place of God and religion. It is for 3rd and 4th year students in the School of Divinity, including those also studying Philosophy. The other major figures studied are Hegel, Nietzsche and Heidegger.
Course description Academic description:
Immanuel Kant developed a new understanding of the purpose and use of reason. Refuting the speculative use of reason to prove ultimate truths about God, the world and human existence, he refocused on morality and practical reason. The modern German tradition, which Kant founded, has been tremendously important both intellectually and politically. Ongoing themes, which the course traces though subsequent thinkers, include autonomy, the state, and the link between reason and experience. Religious belief and its relation, if any, to moral belief is also a key issue.

Syllabus/outline content:
The course begins with Kant¿s argument from moral action to God and examines some practical implications of his metaphysics of morals. It then moves on to assess the role of ethics in G.W.F. Hegel and its place in state and society. The third figure covered is Friedrich Nietzsche, and his attempted move beyond good and evil is appraised. Next comes Martin Heidegger¿s critique of onto-theology and the social assumptions that he regarded as following from it. The final philosopher is Hannah Arendt, whose political and social critique is related to the course themes.

Student learning experience information:
There is one two-hour seminar each week and the course manager is available for consultation at other times. A key text is to be read before each seminar and forms the basis for the seminar teaching and discussion. Each student gives a presentation on one of these texts. The assessment comprises the presentation and seminar participation, a coursework essay and a written exam. Although the course includes some demanding material, the seminar provides the opportunity for this to be discussed and understood, including through practical examples.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements for Directors of Studies: the best courses to have taken prior to enrolling in this course are those which treat major philosophical figures, and introduce the challenges to reading such material.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students are particularly welcome on this course. They should have at least 3 Divinity/Religious Studies/Philosophy courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). (Only consider University/College level courses)
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Narrate the changing function of metaphysics in modern German thought
  2. Understand the place of morality in German thought from Kant onward.
  3. Comprehend the concepts and arguments of classic texts.
  4. Identify and debate critical issues of interpretation and their real-life implications.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserDr Ulrich Schmiedel
Tel: (0131 6)50 8918
Course secretaryMs Katrina Munro
Tel: (0131 6)50 8900
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