PHIL41670 Thinking without Subject: Mind and Body before Descartes

Academic Year 2021/2022

We will begin with the famous Utrecht dispute between Descartes, Regius and Gassendi, focusing on the arguments about the unique intellect, then we will study the sources of this dispute and analyse Averroes, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and the Latin Averroists. We aim to understand origins of the modern concept of (thinking) "subject", one of the most significant topics in the history of philosophy.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

- critically ass a philosophical text
- navigate between concepts elaborated before modernity yet inherited by the latter
- analyse closely arguments that have significantly shaped the history of thoughts
- develop the capacity of writing philosophical papers

Indicative Module Content:

- the "mind - body" problem
- the invention of "subjectivity" as philosophical problem
- comparison of Descartes with his predecessors
- situate modern epistemology within the history of philosophy

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Seminar (or Webinar)


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Debate - Close reading of texts 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

No prior learning is required, but knowledge of history of philosophy (e.g. Aristotle, Descartes) might be useful.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: 5000 word essay or comment on one of the topics discussed in class Week 11 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
In-Module Resit Prior to relevant Programme Exam Board
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Seminar Offering 1 Week(s) - 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 Tues 14:00 - 15:50