Academic year
2021/2022 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
LT9004 (AF:357783 AR:186901)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Bachelor's Degree Programme
Educational sector code
1st Semester
Course year
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The aim of the course is to introduce students to some of the most important topics of Western philosophy, in order to develop an understanding of the nature of philosophical questions, and of ways in which these can be answered.
The student will be challenged to read and comprehend classical and contemporary philosophical texts, and to learn the conceptual vocabulary and the logical tools to make and evaluate philosophical arguments.
At the end of the course, students should be able to:
a) demonstrate knowledge of important philosophical terms as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, logic, rationalism, empiricism, idealism, dualism, materialism, reductionism, determinism;
b) demonstrate knowledge of the views of the philosophers studied;
c) articulate how these views are created in response to general philosophical problems and/or to the views of other philosophers;
d) read, summarize and interpret the views of philosophers as expressed in philosophical texts;
e) identify the philosophical questions presented by the movies considered;
f) think more critically and argument more clearly.
The course does not have entry requirements.
We will wholly read a classic of philosophy – Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy – in order to become familiar with philosophical language and arguments. This text will be the starting-point to reflect on four themes: 1) Epistemology: Nature and methods of knowledge; 2) Philosophy of mind: The mind-body problem and personal identity; 3) Metaphysics and theodicy: the existence of God and the manifestation of the evil; 4) Ethics: Free will and voluntariness. For each topic, students will consider René Descartes’ arguments along with the positions of fundamental thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine; Anselm, Aquinas; Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant; Hilary Putnam, Andy Clark, Francisco Varela.
Moreover, we will watch and discuss two movies, which are related to the aforementioned topics: 1) The Matrix; 2) The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
(1) R. Descartes, Meditationes de prima philosophia (1641) (suggested edition ed. by J. Cottingham, Cambridge University Press*).
(2) J. Cottingham, Descartes, Malden: Blackwell, 1986.
(3) N. Warburton, Philosophy: The Basics, Routledge 2013.
A selection of other texts will be given during the classes and will be present on the moodle of the class.

*For other editions and translations, please see the folder "Required readings" present on the moodle of the class. (A course reading list is also present in the detailed version of the Syllabus, available on the moodle of the class).
The evaluation will be based on a written exam with open questions on the texts and the topics discussed. Part of the final evaluation will derive from a written discussion of a movie or an article among those suggested during the classes.
Lectures, readings, discussion of texts.
Accessibility, Disability and Inclusion

Ca' Foscari abides by Italian Law (Law 17/1999; Law 170/2010) regarding support services and accommodation available to students with disabilities. This includes students with mobility, visual, hearing and other disabilities (Law 17/1999), and specific learning impairments (Law 170/2010). If you have a disability or impairment that requires accommodations (i.e., alternate testing, readers, note takers or interpreters) please contact the Disability and Accessibility Offices in Student Services:

This subject deals with topics related to the macro-area "Poverty and inequalities" and contributes to the achievement of one or more goals of U. N. Agenda for Sustainable Development

Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 08/09/2021