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Philosophy 101 (2021)

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: Introduction to 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 the possible connection religion has with divine revelation and the connection that revelation might have with faith, asking whether these, perhaps,  are the essential distinguishing features of religion. 
Secondly, we consider the question whether religion is the sort of thing which can be either true or false. If religion is thought of as a sort of cultural response to the world as we find it, then what sense can it make to think of a religion as possibly true or false? Might many religions or multiple religions ALL be true or valid? Just as it seems possible to have multiple moral orientations that come from diverse cultural perspectives, might it not also be possible to have multiple religious responses, all of which are true or valid in their own way?
Furthermore, 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. How does faith connect with reason? How does revelation relate to Philosophy?

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

Philosophy of Religion RuConnected Page


Term 2: Consciousness in a Physical World (Philosophy of Mind)

One of the most interesting and intractable puzzles that philosophers face is the problem of the mind.  On the one hand we understand the world to be made up of physical or material objects, and the physical laws that govern those objects. But then there also seems to be a ‘mental’ world, where the objects (ideas, feelings, dreams) are not material, and nor are they governed by physical laws.  But how are we to understand these ‘two worlds’? Are they really distinct, and if so, how do they interact? And if they are not distinct worlds, how do we understand the relation between the ‘physical’ and the ‘mental’?  This endlessly fascinating problem will be the focus of this course.

Philosophy of Mind RuConnected Page



Last Modified: Wed, 10 Mar 2021 16:06:48 SAST