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PHL3880 - Space, time and deity: Themes from Leibniz and Hume

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 (Off-campus)
Clayton Summer semester A 2009 (Off-campus)


The subject will examine some major themes in the debate between rationalist and empiricist outlooks, as exemplified in the works of Leibniz and Hume. Hume's Treatise of Human Nature was the culmination of the empiricist tradition in the 18th century. Among the topics Hume discussed were causation, induction, the existence of the material objects and their relation to the mind, and the rationality of belief in God. Most of these topics had also been discussed by Leibniz, who approached them from a very different perspective. So it is instructive to look at the work of these two great thinkers in relation to one another.
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On Completion of the subject students will have gained an understanding of the debates between Rationalist and Empiricist schools in the 17th and 18th centuries, and its influences on the development of philosophical theories in epistemology, metaphysics and philosophy of religion since then. 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 contemporary discussions of causation, induction and scepticism and belief in God arising out of the work of Leibniz and Hume. Students completing the subject will develop skills in writing and argument in ways that are responsive to a developing discussion in seminars.


Written work: 70% (3500 words)
Test: 30%

Contact hours

2 hours (one 2-hour seminar) per week. OCL mode: workshops optional


A first year sequence in Philosophy and one second year unit, preferably PHL2110.

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

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