Can my experience of myself be trusted as what is finally real? Or is this experience just another obstacle to knowing things as they are? This unit explores the modern project, beginning with Descartes, and continuing through Hume and Kant, to place the knowing self at the centre of existence.

Unit code: AP2170P (Approved)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 2

Unit discipline: Philosophy

Proposing College: Pilgrim Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Debate and appreciate the issues informing origination of the term “subject” (with Aristotle), and its link with the question of "substance", as this continues into medieval philosophy


Distinguish philosophically the successive “turnings” by which the notion of the substantial subject evolves into “self” through the modern period (with Descartes, Hume and Kant).


Critically explain the philosophical issues involved in the post-Kantian attempt to salvage the substantiality of the self


Classify the various accounts of the substantial self in relation other philosophical categorisations and distinctions. (Examples of these: epistemology vs. ontology, soul vs. body, mind vs. matter, freedom vs. necessity, human vs. animal, rationalism vs. empiricism).

Unit sequence

For AP2170P 15 points in Philosophy


Lectures and Tutorials; Online module with guided online discussion fora.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Ayer, A.J. Hume. Oxford: OUP, 1980.
  • Descartes, René. “Discourse on Method”and “The Meditations.” Trans. and introd. F.E. Sutcliffe. Penguin Classics. Harmondsworth:Penguin Books, 1968. (recommended for purchase)
  • Hume, David. A Treatise on Human Nature. Introd. Ernest C. Mossner. Penguin Classics. London: Penguin Books, 1969. (recommended for purchase)
  • Guyer, Paul, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  • Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. and ed. Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • Melchert, Norman. The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy. 4th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2001. (recommended for purchase)
  • Robinson, David, and C. Garratt. Introducing Descartes. Cambridge: Icon Books, 1999. [** A book sought in the “Introducing --------” Series (Introducing Kant, Introducing Descartes, etc.) can often be found under the alternative title “-------- for Beginners” (Kant for Beginners, Descartes for Beginners, etc.), and vice versa.
  • Schacht, R. Classical Modern philosophers: Descartes to Kant. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984. (recommended for purchase)
  • Snell, R.J., and Steven F. McGuire, eds. Subjectivity: Ancient and Modern. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016.
  • Uleman, Jennifer K. An Introduction to Kant’s Moral Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  • Want, Christopher and Andrzej Klimowski. Introducing Kant. Cambridge: Icon Books, 1999.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Essay (2500 words)

0 50.0

Essay (2000 words)

0 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity on 1 Jan, 2001

Unit record last updated: 2019-02-01 10:11:26 +1100