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PHL3880 - Space, Time and Deity: themes from Leibniz and Hume

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Aubrey Townsend


Clayton First semester 2007 (Off-campus)
Clayton Second semester 2007 (Day)
Clayton Second semester 2007 (Off-campus)
Clayton Summer semester A 2007 (Off-campus)


The subject will examine some major themes in the debate between rationalist and empiricist outlooks, as exemplified in the works of Leibniz and Hume. Hume's Treatise of Human Nature was the culmination of the empiricist tradition in the 18th century. Among the topics Hume discussed were causation, induction, the existence of the material objects and their relation to the mind, and the rationality of belief in God. Most of these topics had also been discussed by Leibniz, who approached them from a very different perspective. So it is instructive to look at the work of these two great thinkers in relation to one another.


On Completion of the subject students will have gained an understanding of the debates between Rationalist and Empiricist schools in the 17th and 18th centuries, and its influences on the development of philosophical theories in epistemology, metaphysics and philosophy of religion since then. They will have an enhanced capacity for critical and rigorous reading of a philosophical text, and skills in the evaluation of philosophical positions in the context of an integrated system. They will have reflected on contemporary discussions of causation, induction and scepticism and belief in God arising out of the work of Leibniz and Hume. Students completing the subject will develop skills in writing and argument in ways that are responsive to a developing discussion in seminars either face-to-face or via the Portals interface.


Two exercises (750 words each): 20%
Essay (2000 words): 40%
Seminar participation: 10%
Test (1 hour): 30%
Distance Education: The exercises and seminar participation will be replaced by contributions to the electronic discussion group
On-campus students have the option or proceeding in the same way as DE students.

Contact hours

2 hours (1 x 2 hour seminar) per week.