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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Philosophy

Undergraduate Course: John Locke (PHIL10189)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will offer a close reading of some of John Locke's most important philosophical writings, such as An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689), Two Treatises of Government (1689), and the Letter Concerning Toleration (1689). The course will introduce students to the historical context of his work and its legacy, particularly the Essay's role as the most influential statement of empiricism in the early modern period. Students will also be exposed to early responses to Locke and contemporary secondary literature.
Course description This class will offer a close reading of Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, with a focus on appreciating the aims and coherence of the work as a whole. Topics specifically addressed may include: Locke's arguments against innate ideas and innate knowledge; the nature of ideas; the primary-secondary quality distinction; our ideas of substance and of natural kinds; personal identity; language and meaning; the nature of knowledge; mathematical knowledge; perceptual knowledge; action and the will; knowledge of moral truths; probable judgment and the nature of probability; and, finally, Locke's contributions to political philosophy and their connection to his metaphysics and epistemology.
Students will work on developing the skills necessary to interpret historical texts and will learn techniques and tools commonly used in the history of philosophy. In addition, students will learn how to read and carefully assess secondary literature, and to critically evaluate competing interpretations of primary sources. Finally, students will have the opportunity to do research in the history of philosophy, developing an original topic, formulating and defending a thesis, and making use of relevant secondary literature.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Knowledge and Reality (PHIL08017) AND Mind, Matter and Language (PHIL08014)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students studying on MA Cognitive Science (Humanities) are permitted to take this course without having met the pre-requisites of Mind, Matter and Language and Knowledge and Reality. However, it is advisable that students discuss the suitability of the course with their PT and the course organiser before enrolling.
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Interpret, analyze, and evaluate arguments in historical philosophical texts.
  2. Understand Locke's project in An Essay concerning Human Understanding and its philosophical legacy.
  3. Critically assess competing positions in the secondary literature on Locke.
  4. Develop an original interpretation of some topic or issue in Locke┬┐s philosophical works.
Reading List
Representative reading list
Primary reading may include:
Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
Locke, Two Treatises of Government (1689)
Locke, Letter Concerning Toleration (1689)
Excerpts from Locke's correspondence with Stillingfleet (1697)
Excerpts from Locke's other works, especially "An Examination of Malebranche's Opinion Of Seeing All Things In God" (1706)
Leibniz, New Essays on Human Understanding (1765)

Secondary reading will be drawn from recent books and articles, which may include the following:
Anstey, Locke and Natural Philosophy (2011).
Collins, In the Shadow of Leviathan: John Locke and the Politics of Conscience (2020)
Marusic, The Candle Within: Locke on the Extent of our Knowledge (unpublished manuscript).
Rickless, Locke (2014).
Stuart, Locke's Metaphysics (2013).
Stuart (edited), A Companion to Locke (2016).
Weinberg and Gordon-Roth (edited), The Lockean Mind (forthcoming).
Weinberg, Consciousness in Locke (2015).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Enquiry and lifelong learning; Research and enquiry; Personal and intellectual autonomy; communication
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Jennifer Marusic
Course secretaryMs Veronica Vivi
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