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Undergraduate Module Descriptor

PHL2011A: The Philosophy of Nature 1

This module descriptor refers to the 2023/4 academic year.

Module Aims

Philosophy began as a 'philosophy of nature' with the cosmological metaphysics of Presocratic thinkers such as Thales and Heraclitus. Modern Science was born of a revolution in the metaphysics of nature and Modern Philosophy can be conceived as a response to this revolution. The self-understanding of what it means to be human (i.e., of human nature) with all its moral, practical and theoretical implications, has been variable with very different understandings of the relationship of humans to nature. This module aims to improve your understanding of 'the philosophy of nature' as a fundamental philosophical concern by providing an overarching critical reconstruction of the different phases of Western and Non-Western understandings of nature. It also aims to introduce you to political and normative implications of philosophical understandings of nature 'nature', and invites you to reflect on your own presuppositions in dealing with the natural world.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

This module's assessment will evaluate your achievement of the ILOs listed here – you will see reference to these ILO numbers in the details of the assessment for this module.

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:
Module-Specific Skills1. understand the basic concepts and problems in the philosophy of nature past and present;
2. philosophically analyse the ways in which these problems have been addressed by past and contemporary philosophers;
3. know how to critically analyse concepts and arguments that make reference to nature, and how to expose their ethical and ideological foundations;
Discipline-Specific Skills4. make explicit underlying assumptions about nature that are often uncritically presupposed in other areas of philosophy, the sciences and the humanities;
5. assess how concepts such as 'nature' change over time and across cultures, and reflect on the reasons for such changes;
Personal and Key Skills6. develop ideas and construct arguments and critically evaluate the ideas and arguments of others;
7. question received wisdom;
8. critically examine texts, and to write cogent and convincing essays.