Reading texts from the history of philosophy

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Sunday 25 April 2021
Friday 02 July 2021
16 May 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

The general aim of this module is to improve students' ability to read, understand and critically assess philosophical texts from a range of historical periods and philosophical traditions. The particular text (or texts) under consideration in any one year will operate as exemplary for the development of philosophical reading skills more generally. Some of the texts that may be addressed include: Kierkegaard's Philosophical Crumbs, Austin's How to Do Things with Words; Anscombe's Intention; Rousseau's The Social Contract; Descartes' Metaphysical Meditations; Plato's Gorgias, Merleau-Ponty's The Prose of the World.

Each year, we look in detail at a classic philosophical text. Close attention will be paid to reading the text on its own terms and developing students' critical and philosophical skills by engaging closely with the arguments and questions raised. We will look at the text not only as a historical document, but also study it with regard to its on-going contribution to philosophical thinking.

In 2020-21 we will study Kierkegaard's Philosophical Crumbs. This short but highly complex text raises fundamental questions about what it means to read philosophical texts well. It also raises questions about various fundamental philosophical topics: including truth, the nature and limits of philosophical inquiry, Socrates, the limits of reason, Christianity, and the metaphysics of change.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

• To develop a good and critical understanding of a text or set of texts from the history of philosophy through attentive reading.

• To gain a better understanding of what it means to attentively read a philosophical text.

• To gain an insight into ways in which contents of a text can be related to its form, within philosophy and beyond.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module the student should have:

• be in a position to reconstruct, analyse and criticise the position found in the text or set of texts from the history of philosophy on which the module focuses;

• be able to enter into discussion with a range of positions on the topic in a text or set of texts from the history of philosophy;

• be better readers of philosophical – and other – texts.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

All teaching events will be accessible to students on and off campus either face-to-face or remotely through online teaching.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   2000 word exposition     50% 
Coursework   Quizzes TOTAL (2 of 3)    50% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Daniel Watts, email:
Dr Daniel Watts



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 28 hours, 28 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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