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The human record is full of contradictions. We are capable all at once of selfless love and murderous depravity; of sublime rational insight and base stupidity; of soul-baring honesty and habitual duplicity; of principled rebellion and obsequious deference to authority; of generosity and jealousy. What, then, is our true nature? Are we rational creatures or are we enslaved by our passions? Are we moral creatures or are we fundamentally selfish? Can we improve the human situation either individually or collectively? Does it all depend on our evolutionary history? This course is an introduction to Western philosophy through the ideas of Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Marx, Nietzsche, Darwin, and other influential thinkers as they puzzle over the riddles of human nature.
Not only is philosophy one of the most interesting and challenging subjects, it teaches skills that employers want: thinking outside the box, logic, ethics, and excellent writing and communication skills. At UC you can do either a BA or a BSc in Philosophy, or combine a Philosophy major with the LLB, BCom, or another degree.BA or BSc students who major in philosophy must normally take at least two 100-level PHIL courses, plus at least three 200-level PHIL courses (including PHIL233), plus at least 60-points from 300-level PHIL courses (including at least one course from this list: PHIL305; PHIL310; PHIL311; and PHIL317). For more information see the BA regulations and/or the BSc regulations.
In this course you will learn:An understanding of influential theories and ideas about human nature.Familiarity with some highlights from the history of Western philosophy.Better critical thinking through engagement with issues of permanent importance in philosophy and everyday life.A foundation for further study in philosophy.
This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:
Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award
Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.
Employable, innovative and enterprising
Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.
Biculturally competent and confident
Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.
Students must attend one activity from each section.
Contact Michael-John for further information.
Please refer to Learn or contact the course coordinator for updated assessment information.
Roger Trigg, Ideas of human nature : an historical introduction, 2nd edition (Blackwell, 1999). Copies are available in UBS and in the High Demand Collection in the Library.(*Image: Editorial cartoon depicting Charles Darwin as an ape (1871), available under public domain.)
Domestic fee $821.00
International fee $3,750.00
* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.
For further information see