Philosophy Courses


The notion and scope of philosophy as understood in its different stages of development. Outline of the main philosophical problems and major philosophical systems against their cultural backgrounds.
Definition, division, categories, the kinds of propositions, forms of argumentation and syllogism. Fallacies.
What is African philosophy? Traditional African views of life, God, the world, human happiness, destiny, free will, and the afterlife. Comparability with thought of other cultures.
Greek and Roman thought in their successive eras. Comparison with the thought of the ancient near and far East.
A practical analysis of the forms of arguments used in samples of journalism, political and legal debate, identifying types of discourse, kinds and validity of deductive and inductive reasoning.
History of the development of metaphysical thought. Basic concepts and their usage in different schools of thought.
Empirical observation and dialectics in the search of definitions and explanation. Induction, causal and statistical explanations with reference to hypothesis, theory and laws. Probability. Types of demonstration (cf. Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics). Organization of arguments in a scientific paper. Pre-requisite PHI 102
Neo-Platonism. Faith and reason with the Christian apologetes. The Alexandrines, the Cappadocians, Augustine, Boethius and contemporaries: their views on God, the cosmos, man, knowledge, ethics.
The development of scholastic schools. Arab Aristotelianism and neo-Platonism. Their impact in Europe and the resultant crisis. Nominalism. The new physical science.
Aristotle’s idea of matter and form, motion and change, nature, time, place, causes of motion. The neo-Thomistic concept of impetus. Modern ideas of matter, mass, energy, particles.
The method of symbolic logic. Logical constants. Propositional calculus. Techniques for evaluating arguments, e.g. truth tables, formal proofs of validity. Predicate logic. Syllogistic arguments.
Survey of the life and writings of Thomas Aquinas. Background to the debates then current. Thomas’ innovations and synthesis
The nature of life, human life and soul. Dualistic theories (interactionism, psycho-physical parallelism); monistic theories (idealism, materialism, behaviourism); double aspect theories. Senses and emotion. Intellect and spirit. Free will. Surviving death. Personal identity and relationships. Pre-requisite PHI 204
Study of selected Indian and/or Far Eastern philosophies, e.g. the 6 Darshanas in Hinduism, Theravada Buddhism & Zen, Taoist and Confucian thought.
History of the debate about the nature and validity of knowledge. Basic concepts and schools of thought.
The major philosophers from the 17th to the 19th centuries, with emphasis on the question of the validity of human knowledge.
Methodology, moral certitude and demonstration.The notion of human happiness, essential and integral. Value. Moral judgment and law, conscience and authority. Habit and virtue. Responsibility. Intellectual and moral virtues. Moral virtue and the mean
The subject and starting-point of metaphysics. Evidence for and nature of separated substance.The transcendental; the one and the many. Potentiality and act, causality. Participation, determinism, chance, freedom. Pre-requisite: PHI 204.
Theories on the necessity, purpose and genesis of society. The notions of common good, justice, solidarity, subsidiarity, the levels of social organization and sovereignty. Types of political systems and principles of criticism. Pre-requisite: PHI 302.
The major philosophers, with emphasis on the problem of knowledge (phenomenology, linguistic philosophy etc.) and individual worth (existentialism, personalism etc.).
The Thomistic school since Thomas: the ups and downs of its influence, its major representatives, the development or distortion of certain ideas. Pre-requisite: PHI 206
Beauty and the aesthetic experience. Art and nature. The kinds of art. Truth in art. Principles of interpreting and evaluating works of art with reference to constant standards and variations of culture and fashion
Relation between philosophy and literature. Philosophical study of literature containing ideas significant for ethics, metaphysics, epistemology etc. Philosophical inquiry into the criteria for evaluating literature
Detailed study of predicate logic. Formal proof. Methods of establishing invalidity. Logic of relations. Logic of identity. Definite descriptions. Metatheory of propositional and predicate logic e.g. proofs of consistency and completeness. Examples of the application of logic to philosophical problems.
The major theories in the history of ethics, e.g. emotivism, voluntarism, utilitarianism, consequentialism, natural law, personalism. Pre-requisite: PHI 207
The method of historical inquiry and interpretation. The role of history in social theory. Historicism. Laws of history and determinism.
The concept and nature of law. Natural justice. The logic of legal reasoning. Legal responsibility. Legal rights and obligations of persons. Judicial precedence. Pre-requisite: PHI 304.
The Greek heritage recovered and developed in the Muslim world. Survey of the main authors, with concentration on a particular author or work. Their integration in European medieval philosophy
Levels of human knowledge: sense, intellectual. Truth and states of mind: doubt, belief, opinion, certitude in its various kinds. Skepticism, particularly about external world, necessary truths, past and future. The origin of error. Pre-requisite: PHI 303.
The existence and nature and activity of God and other spirits from the point of view of metaphysics and also cultural experience. Creation, analogy and participation. The questions of evil and determinism. The experience of the sacred and communication with the divine.The origin and nature of religion. Religious language, myth, symbol and ritual. The question of placating and controlling or submitting to spiritual powers. Pre-requisite: PHI 303.
Method and epistemology of mathematics (with look at logicism, intuitionism and formalism). The branches of mathematics and numbering systems, including binary and African traditional systems. Mathematical abstraction and application in “mixed” sciences. Particular problems, such as the notion of infinity
Contemporary developments in African thought with particular reference to the works of modern African philosophers.
Social science methods. Survey of the major social sciences, their differences and specific methodology e.g. sociology, political science, social and cultural anthropology. Some significant theories of society, e.g. functionalism, structuralism
The functions of language. Meaning, reference, truth and reality. Verbal and non-verbal communication. Symbol and symbolic truth. Language idiom and translation theory
The trends, problems and figures in logical positivism and linguistic analysis, including study of relations, definite descriptions, correspondence theory of truth, & picture theory of language.
The problems and notions raised by these movements, e.g. intentionality, consciousness, negation, language, selfhood, freedom, worldhood. Some representatives of these movements
Philosophical discussion of ethical issues in contemporary life, e.g. abortion, euthanasia, genetic manipulation, suicide, capital punishment, war, nuclear weapons. Pre-requisite: PHI 302
Central themes: e.g. historical materialism, dialectical materialism, alienation. The relation between theory and practice in Marxist thought. Hegel and Marx. Marx and positivism. Marxist conception of the state. Freedom and necessity in the Marxist conception of truth. Marxism and contemporary social and political thought
An essay to be written under the supervision of a member of staff as a detailed and advanced study of a major philosopher, school of philosophy, or problem in philosophy