Faculty of Arts

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This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2016 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

Monash University

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit



Associate Professor Jacqueline Broad



  • First semester 2016 (Day)


'I think therefore I am'. In the Meditations Descartes gave central place to the idea that to be human is to be a thinking thing (or res cogitans). His discussion of what this involves set the agenda for modern philosophical debates in epistemology, metaphysics and cognitive theory. This unit will examine the entire Cartesian system, but with special emphasis on Descartes' views about the possibility of knowledge and what it is to be a thinking thing. We will follow these themes into contemporary philosophical discussions.


On completion of the subject students will have read the Meditations of Descartes and in reading them will have gained an understanding of the complete Cartesian system and its influences on the development of philosophical theories in epistemology and metaphysics. 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 some contemporary work with roots in the Cartesian tradition. Students completing the subject will develop skills in writing and argument.


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Twelve credit points of first-year Arts units.

Additional information on this unit is available from the faculty at: