Skip to content | Change text size
Handbooks Courses Units Related information

PHL2110 - Res Cogitans: Descartes on mind and knowledge

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader(s): Aubrey Townsend


Clayton First semester 2009 (Off-campus)
Clayton Second semester 2009 (Day)
Clayton Second semester 2009 (Off-campus)
Clayton Summer semester A 2009 (Off-campus)


'I think therefore I am'. In the Meditations Descartes gave central place to the idea that to be human is to be a thinking thing (or res cogitans). His discussion of what this involves set the agenda for modern philosophical debates in epistemology, metaphysics and cognitive theory. This unit will examine the entire Cartesian system, but with special emphasis on Descartes' views about the possibility of knowledge and what it is to be a thinking thing. We will follow these themes into contemporary philosophical discussions.


On completion of the subject students will have read the Meditations of Descartes and in reading them will have gained an understanding of the complete Cartesian system and its influences on the development of philosophical theories in epistemology and metaphysics. They will have an enhanced capacity for critical and rigorous reading of a philosophical text, and skills in the evaluation of philosophical positions in the context of an integrated system. They will have reflected on some contemporary work with roots in the Cartesian tradition. Students completing the subject will develop skills in writing and argument.


Written work: 70%
Test: 30%

Contact hours

One 2-hour seminar per week. OCL: workshops optional


A first-year unit in Philosophy

Additional information on this unit is available from the faculty at:

[an error occurred while processing this directive]