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Philosophy 101 (2020)

Philosophy 101 (PHI101) is a first-year, first semester course aimed at introducing students to philosophical ideas, issues and methods via topics in metaphysics, epistemology and ethics from a range of philosophical traditions.

The course bears 15 credits at NQF Level 5. There are no entrance requirements.
DP requirements: at least 35% for course work.
Assessment: Coursework 60%; June exam 40%.
Supplementary exam: June result 45 – 49%
Sub-minimum of 45% for aggregation.


Term 1: The Philosophy of Religion (Francis Williamson)

This course aims to introduce students to Philosophy by way of a subject-matter that most of us have strong opinions about, namely religion.
We will be philosophising about a whole number of connected issues relating to the phenomenon of religion, starting off, first, with what exactly it is that distinguishes religion from other kinds of belief-systems, such as ideologies or philosophies of life. Part of this intellectual investigation leads us to questioning the precise nature of faith, asking whether this perhaps is the essential distinguishing feature of religion. And the question of faith leads directly to the further question of whether faith and religion have an intrinsic connection with revelation, and what that connection is all about.
Secondly, if religion involves something like revelation from Divinity or God, then this lead us directly to a consideration of some philosophical justifications for belief in the existence and nature of God and why belief in God arguably cannot be a matter of faith at all but is rather a matter of metaphysics. If the existence of God is something that we know from natural reason alone (metaphysics/philosophy/ science) rather than revelation, the question then arises as to how we go beyond the mere God of Philosophy to the God of Religion.
And this is our third major point of departure, for one traditional and dominant answer to this question appeals to the notion of miracle: God has acted in history and revealed himself, and this revelation by God of himself in miracles gives us a rational justification for a religious response to reality. But the problem with this answer is that it is deeply controversial whether it can ever be rational to believe in miracles, and so we will explore at least one very influential argument related to this view, viz., that of David Hume.
A further and fourth problem to be considered is the problem of religious pluralism: if God exists and indeed has revealed himself in history, then whose version of this history and whose version of religious revelation do we believe? Can multiple and different religions all be true? Are these just different but equally legitimate pathways to the same destination?  

These and related questions form the basis of this introductory course in the Philosophy of Religion.


Term 2: Introduction to Political Philosophy (Uchenna Okeja)

Focusing on discussion of current political problems, we will aim in this course to understand important theories and concepts of political philosophy. What is injustice? Can theories of justice help us to sufficiently understand the experience of injustice? How can we justify the state? What is authority? Are there reasons to hold on to political systems and institutions inherited from colonization? These are some of the questions we will address in this course. Rather than strive to cover the entire epochs of the history and traditions of political philosophy, the goal will be to attain a coherent understanding of the discipline through a systematic study. We will not merely seek to engage in abstract analysis of concepts and theories. Instead, attempt will be made to consider the intersection of ideas in political philosophy and political praxis. At the end of the course, participants should be in a position to develop their own perspectives on the questions and theories discussed.



Last Modified: Mon, 20 Jan 2020 09:27:40 SAST