Philosophy as an undergraduate subject

Philosophy can be taken as a subject in many of the undergraduate degree programmes in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. If you want to study philosophy at postgraduate level, you need to major in the subject for your undergraduate degree. You can find information about the degree programmes that offer philosophy in the faculty yearbook. For more on the content of the undergraduate modules, click on the links below.

Undergraduate Philosophy modules

Philosophy 114: Introduction to systematic philosophy (12 credits)

  • Systematic study of the nature, methods and aims of philosophy as a distinctive discipline.
  • Basic concepts of logic (truth, validity, soundness, deductive and inductive argumentation, the principle of non-contradiction, logical form and basic patterns in argumentation, etc.)
  • Meaning and language use; disputes and definitions; recognising fallacies; the manipulation of language and meaning; rhetorical strategies.
  • Exercises in the analysis of reasoning.

Philosophy 144: Intoruction to moral reasoning (12 credits)

  • The Greek Enlightenment and the most prominent Ancient Greek philosophers, most notably Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
  • The intersection of Greek and Judeo-Christian thought in Late Antiquity.
  • The nature of moral problems and an overview of important approaches to moral reasoning (e.g. consequentialism, rule morality, human rights, virtue ethics).

Philosophy 214: Subdisciplines I (16 credits)

  • Systematic study of questions relating to epistemology, philosophy of science and/or aesthetics.
  • Note: Two of the three subdisciplines will be taught in any given year.

Philosophy 244: Subdisciplines II (16 credits)

  • Systematic study of questions relating to philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind, and/or applied ethics.
  • Note: Two of the three subdisciplines will be taught in any given year.

Philosophy 314: Structuralism and post-structuralism (12 credits)

The focus of this module is on conceptualisations of meaning in the work of de Saussure, Foucault and Derrida. The ethical and political implications of these positions will also be considered.

Philosophy 324: Phenomenology and existentialism (12 credits)

  • Phenomenology as philosophical method and its relationship to existentialism (resp. existential phenomenology).
  • Central themes and ideas in the work of philosophers such as Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jean-Paul Sartre.

Philosophy 334: African philosophy (12 credits)

A thorough discussion of prominent themes, texts and thinkers in African Philosophy. The module may include themes such as the following: metaphilosophy, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy and feminism.

Philosophy 344: Critical social theory and ideology critique (12 credits)

  • Contemporary trends in ideology critique, for example eco-feminism, critical race theory, postcolonial theory and queer theory.
  • The relevance of ideology critique for the analysis and evaluation of various social discourses (e.g. literature, political rhetoric, policy formulation, science, sexuality) prevalent in South African society.

Philosophy 354: Analytic philosophy (12 credits)

The origins of analytic philosophy and philosophical logic (Moore, Russell, Frege, Wittgenstein). Themes may include:

  • Logical positivism (e.g. Schlick, Carnap, Neurath, Feigl, Waismann, Ayer).
  • Linguistic analysis/philosophy of ordinary language (e.g. Wittgenstein, Ryle, Austin).
  • Scientific naturalism (e.g. Quine).
  • Philosophical logic and the understanding of modality (e.g. Kripke, Putnam).
  • Philosophy of mind: the analysis and evaluation of functionalism (e.g. Ryle, Putnam, Dennett, Searle, Chalmers).

Philosophy 364: Political philosophy (12 credits)

  • Themes such as the nature and justification of the state, the social contract, the sources of political legitimacy, and the nature of and conditions for freedom.
  • Moral principles for the distribution of benefits and burdens among members of a society, e.g. fairness, equality, liberty, desert, need, communality or well-being.
  • Problems relating to poverty, inequality and property ownership.

Service modules in the Faculty of Engineering

Philosophy and ethics 314 (8 credits)

Culture and technology, applied ethics, social philosophy; the Engineering Council of SA (ECSA) code of conduct for professional persons; case studies of typical situations from the engineering practice, including the social, workplace and physical environment.

Philosophy and ethics 414 (8 credits)

Culture and technology, applied ethics, social philosophy; the Engineering Council of SA (ECSA) code of conduct for professional persons; case studies of typical situations from the engineering practice, including the social, workplace and physical environment.