Can my experience of myself be trusted as what is finally real? Or is this experience just another obstacle to knowing things as they are? This unit explores the modern project, beginning with Descartes, and continuing through Hume and Kant, to place the knowing self at the centre of existence.

Unit code: AP3170P

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Philosophy

Proposing College: Pilgrim Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Debate and appreciate the issues informing origination of the term “subject” (with Aristotle), and its link with the question of "substance", as this continues into medieval philosophy


Distinguish philosophically the successive “turnings” by which the notion of the substantial subject evolves into “self” through the modern period (with Descartes, Hume and Kant).


Critically explain the philosophical issues involved in the post-Kantian attempt to salvage the substantiality of the self.


Critically classify the various accounts of the substantial self in relation other philosophical categorisations and distinctions. (Examples of these: epistemology vs. ontology, soul vs. body, mind vs. matter, freedom vs. necessity, human vs. animal, rationalism vs. empiricism).


Develop a sustained argument for or against a given philosophical account of subjectivity, as regards its internal coherence and/or consistency with wider accounts of experience.

Unit sequence

18 points in Philosophy at Level 2


Synchronous interactive lectures and tutorials

Indicative Bibliography

  • Ayer, A.J. Hume. Oxford: OUP, 1980.
  • Descartes, René. “Discourse on Method” and “The Meditations.” Trans. and introduced by F.E. Sutcliffe. Penguin Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 2005. (recommended for purchase)
  • Hume, David. A Treatise on Human Nature. Introduced by Ernest C. Mossner. Penguin Classics. London: Penguin Books, 1986. (recommended for purchase)
  • Guyer, Paul, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  • Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. and ed. Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • Melchert, Norman. The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy. 4th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2001. (recommended for purchase)
  • Schacht, R. Classical Modern philosophers: Descartes to Kant. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984. (recommended for purchase)
  • Snell, R.J., and Steven F. McGuire, eds. Subjectivity: Ancient and Modern. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016.
  • Uleman, Jennifer K. An Introduction to Kant’s Moral Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  • Want, Christopher and Andrzej Klimowski. Introducing Kant (and other texts in this series). Cambridge: Icon Books, 1999.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Essay - 1st essay

A philosophical argument relating to accounts of subjectivity found in the earlier part of the unit.

2500 50.0
Essay - 2nd essay

A philosophical argument integrating ideas on subjectivity emergent over the span of the unit.

2500 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Prof Albert Haddad on 24 Aug, 2022

Unit record last updated: 2022-08-24 14:55:54 +1000