This course has concessions available

Intermediate Philosophy Part 1 : Reason and Unreason – Online

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.

Available Classes:

Who is this course 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 this course cover

This course covers two parallel strands in philosophy: the birth and development of the 'enlightenment' as well as its critique. Please see blurb for more detailed description.

What will it be like

The course will be run online using Zoom for the live class sessions and either the Moodle page for the course or some other system for the distribution of the electronic resources for the session sitting alongside this. Although there will be some adjustments that need to be made for the online version of this course, we will aim to keep the experience as close as possible to that of a face to face course taught in the Centre.

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 you need to buy or do

The course will be run on Zoom, please make sure you have installed it in advance of your first class on your computer or mobile device. You can sign up for free here:

You will need a microphone (it's fine to use whatever is built into your device) and camera, so we can see you via video. You may also want to use headphones during the session.

You can participate in class sessions through the use of a computer, laptop, tablet or other similar internet enabled device. Please note that if you only have access to a smartphone, you will be able to attend the class sessions and participate in them but you will find it more difficult to benefit from the full range of materials and activities involved in the course if this is your only means of connection.

Make sure you have a small space to work in during the session and that as far as possible that you can keep this space quite and clear of interruption so that you can concentrate on what is happening in the class.

By signing up to the course you are consenting to being on camera. The content of the lesson may occasionally be recorded by the tutor for internal education and training purposes but any such recordings will not be made available to anyone outside of the Mary Ward Centre organisation without us asking you again for further permission to do so.

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 this course could 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

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I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.

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This course has concessions available for people who meet certain criteria

Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

Why choose Mary Ward?

Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening and weekends to suit your timetable. You can learn face to face at one of our centres (Bloomsbury or Waterloo) or take an online course

Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’