Philosophy 2K: Knowledge, Meaning and Inference

What is it to know something? Are there limits to knowledge, due to the limits of our own physical or psychological make-up? Can we know things they are in themselves, or are we limited to knowing how things appear to us? Does all knowledge depend on the senses, or can some things be known a priori, that is, by pure thought? This course centres around a close study of one the definitive books on these subjects of the past 100 years, Bertrand Russell's The Problems of Philosophy. As well as providing an incisive and famously readable account of these issues, it introduces the student to ways of conceptualising the issues characteristic of philosophy in the Anglo-American world since it was written. It provides an excellent background to the more contemporary works studied at Honours. In addition, the course provides an introduction to Logic, which is essential to a systematic understanding of the structure of knowledge, and of the way in which questions of language and meaning enter into philosophy. In the third component of the course, concepts and methods from both the Theory of Knowledge and from Logic are used in examining a cultural phenomenon with an unparalleled influence on modern life – science. What is the methodology of scientific inference? Can science give us knowledge of things that are beyond our powers of observation? Does science deserve its reputation of being fully objective and rational?

Course convener: Dr Christoph Kelp
Semester: 2
Lecture hour: 12-1, Monday - Thursday
Lecture venue: See MyCampus

Recommended texts:
The two main books for the Class are as follows:

  • Bertrand Russell, Problems of Philosophy.
  • Adam Rieger, Notes on Logic (available via Moodle).

Teaching resources for this course, including lecture notes and exercises, can be found on the Philosophy Moodle site