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Intermediate Philosophy Part 1 : Reason and Unreason

It is not uncommon to hear today calls for a defence of and a return to Enlightenment values: but what exactly were they? The flourishing of the natural sciences from the 17th Century onward brought about not just an entirely new conception of the nature of the world but also a radical rethinking of the nature of reason itself, which in turn had profound implications for our understanding of the self and of society. But rather than a celebration of the serene progress of triumphant reason, the Enlightenment itself might be better understood as a series of crises. We will explore the myriad of issues these developments raise through an examination of the great thinkers of the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries.
  • Who is it for?

    This is not a course for absolute beginners to philosophy. Students joining this course would benefit from having some previous experience of studying philosophy. Graduates of other humanities or social-science disciplines, however, with experience of complex theoretical frameworks, should find it very challenging yet potentially intellectually manageable to begin their philosophical studies with this course. All students will need to have reached at least Level 2 standard (equivalent to GSCE) in the English language.

  • What does it cover?

    This course covers two parallel strands in philosophy: the birth and development of the 'enlightenment' as well as its critique.

  • What will it be like?


    The course will be taught in a seminar style, and there will be lots of opportunity for discussion and debate. Optional exercise will be set as homework, to help you explore and consolidate what you have learned and discussed in class, and extracts from the writings of some of the thinkers covered will be made available as preparatory reading for some of the classes. Explanatory handouts will also be provided to help you understand some of the more difficult concepts and arguments covered.
    At the start: Tutor and student self-assessment to establish previous experience of the themes and thinkers covered on the course.
    On the course: Tutor and student self-assessment through class exercises, discussion and debate.
    At the end: Tutor and student self-evaluation of progress made, and end-of-course evaluation sheet.

  • What else do I need to buy or do?

    Notebook and pen, for taking notes in class. Students may find it helpful to have Anthony Pagden's The Enlightenment and Why it still matters (£14.99); E. Cassirer's The Philosophy of the Enlightenment (£21.95) and Thomas Miles' Kierkegaard and as useful background reading, but this is not a requirement of the course.
    Extracts from the work of some of the thinkers we are studying will be provided as preparatory reading at home, and exercises will be set as homework for some classes. Students who undertake the reading and exercises will find that they gain more from the course.

  • What could it lead to?

    This course is designed as the first of a series of three term-long courses. Although ideally the student would benefit from participating to all three, she/he will also benefit if undertaking this individual course independently. As the second part of this course (January- March) will continue chronologically the student will benefit and gain a clearer perspective from continuing on to the third term

Available Courses

Intermediate Philosophy Part 1 : Reason and Unreason

It is not uncommon to hear today calls for a defence of and a return to Enlightenment values: but what exactly were they? The flourishing of the natural sciences from the 17th Century onward brought about not just an entirely new conception of the nature of the world but also a radical rethinking of the nature of reason itself, which in turn had profound implications for our understanding of the self and of society. But rather than a celebration of the serene progress of triumphant reason, the Enlightenment itself might be better understood as a series of crises. We will explore the myriad of issues these developments raise through an examination of the great thinkers of the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries.

23 September 2024 – 09 December 2024
Monday, 18:00 to 20:00
Course Code:416
£175 / £61
12 Meetings
High Street, Stratford
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25 September 2024 – 11 December 2024
Wednesday, 11:00 to 13:00
Course Code:419
£167 / £58
12 Meetings
High Street, Stratford
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Philosophy for Beginners Part 1

Explore some of the most important ideas, themes and thinkers in the history of Western philosophy. Learn about some of the central problems of philosophy, and how to puzzle them our for yourselves.

25 September 2024 – 11 December 2024
Wednesday, 14:00 to 16:00
Course Code:410
£167 / £58
12 Meetings
High Street, Stratford
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26 September 2024 – 12 December 2024
Thursday, 18:30 to 20:30
Course Code:413
£175 / £61
12 Meetings
High Street, Stratford
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Advanced Philosophy: Philosophy And Literature In Recent French Theory

26 September 2024 – 12 December 2024
Thursday, 18:00 to 20:00
Course Code:427CS
£193 / £68
12 Meetings
1 Rushworth St
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Upper Inermediate Philosophy: The Question Concerning Nature

27 September 2024 – 13 December 2024
Friday, 13:00 to 15:00
Course Code:422CS
£185 / £65
12 Meetings
High Street, Stratford
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Need more information?

For more information contact the Curriculum Administration Team at admin@marywardcentre.ac.uk

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