Descartes’ Meditations is one of the most significant texts in Western thought. It marks the beginning of a focus on the natural sciences as the paradigm for knowledge and certainty. It incorporates conceptualizations of God, human nature, knowledge and reality that continue to influence contemporary thought. This unit begins with a detailed critical reading of the Meditations. It then examines excerpts from major texts by other significant philosophers of the period, who may include Hobbes, Spinoza, Cudworth, More, Locke, Newton, Clarke, Hume and Kant. The unit focuses on themes such as the relation of body and soul, the question of certain knowledge and the relationship between scientific, theological and common-sense world views. In addition, attention is given to the dispute between those philosophers engaged in sceptical or atheistic attacks on religion, and those philosophers engaged with defending religion made by other early modern philosophers.

Unit Code: AP3140C

Points: 18.0

Unit Level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit Discipline: Philosophy

Delivery Mode: Face to Face

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning Outcomes


Outline the progression of the argument in Descartes’ Meditations


Eexplain the primary/secondary qualities distinction as it appears through the thinkers studied in the unit, and comment on the purposes of making the distinction


Narrate a critical account of the relationship between the defences of a theistic worldview made by e.g. Cambridge Platonists, Locke and Clarke, and the critiques of those defences made by ‘atheistic’ thinkers presented in the unit: e.g. Hobbes, Spinoza, Hume


Appraise the motivations for, and structure of Kant’s transcendental idealism.

Unit sequence

30 points of philosophy at second level


Lectures, Tutorials,


Type Description Wordcount Weight (%)

1 x 3,000 word essay

0 50.0
Written Examination

1 x 2 hour written examination

0 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 1 Nov, 2015

Unit Record last updated: 2019-02-01 14:35:35 +1100