International Summer School

Philosophy

Session 1

Epistemology
Module Code: IS289
Level: 4 
2018 Syllabus [PDF]
What is knowledge? What is truth? How do we distinguish between justified and unjustified beliefs? Is it possible at all to have adequate reasons or evidence for the things we believe and do? How serious is the threat of scepticism? This module aims to familiarise students with some of the fundamental questions in the theory of knowledge or epistemology. We shall proceed by way of a series of close readings of influential texts dating from ancient Greece to the present day, from Sextus Empiricus, Descartes, Wittgenstein, right up to contemporary “infinitist” theories of justification.

Session 2

Existentialism
Module Code: IS194
Level: 5 
2018 Syllabus [PDF]
Is (human) existence necessarily finite? What does it mean to claim that existence precedes essence? Is existentialism best thought of as a version of humanism? These are just some of the fascinating questions posed in this module.
Although philosophers who are commonly associated with ‘existentialism’ would have neither accepted nor recognised the term, it is a useful way of grouping influential thinkers and themes.

The course critically engages with thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Kafka, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Sartre. It will examine themes such as human freedom, the relation between faith and reason, and we will consider the absurd. It traces the development of existential ideas in philosophical, religious, poetic and fictional works, asking why this movement seems to have led to such a rich intermingling of philosophy and literature. It concludes by considering some of the political and ethical consequences of existentialism.

Science, Consciousness and the Brain
Module Code: IS281
Level: 5 
2018 Syllabus [PDF]
This module is an investigation into the question of what it means to be conscious. The question will be approached via a consideration of the phenomenological investigations of key philosophers, including Husserl and Heidegger, and via a consideration of contemporary scientific understandings of consciousness. This questioning of science will include an examination of the development of the scientific worldview within which scientific conceptions of consciousness have been framed (going back to Descartes), and an examination of recently developed theories concerning the kinds of physical brain processes that could be associated with first-person conscious experience (looking particularly at predictive processing models).