PHI205 - The Empiricists


Locke (1632-1704), Berkeley (1685-1753) and Hume (1711-1776) are widely regarded as key figures in the history of philosophy. They are connected by their emphasis on experience as the basis of all knowledge about reality, but arrive at quite different philosophical systems as the result of this methodology. In this module we will examine these philosophers' views on diverse issues such as the nature of the mind, perception, knowledge, substance, causation and personal identity.

The main texts to be studied are: Locke's An Essay concerning Human Understanding (1690), Berkeley's The Principles of Human Knowledge (1710) and Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous (1713) and Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature (1739) and An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1748).

Preparatory Reading

Any of the primary texts could be read with benefit, but it makes sense to approach these philosophers in chronological order. So I would recommend starting where the module starts, with Locke.

I also strongly recommend: Mackie, J.L. 1976. Problems from Locke. Oxford University Press, since this book is particularly good at showing the continuing relevance to modern debates of the thinking of one of these philosophers.

The primary texts are available in many different editions; and note also that electronic versions of all of them can be found on the Web, as a search using Google Scholar should quickly reveal.


Two coursework essays: A Mid-term assessment essay (25%), and an end of semester essay (25%). Plus two questions in a two-hour, pre-released examination at the end of the module (50%)

Advised for:

Hegel, Philosophy of Psychology


Niall Connolly

Lectures: Spring Semester 2015-16

Thurs 12-1

Thurs 2-3

Seminars (starting in Week 3)

Fri 11-12

Fri 12-1