Philosophy Course: The Fabulous 19th Century

Philosophy Course: The Fabulous 19th Century

Philosophy short courses in Sydney, open to everyone.

Study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence with our Philosophy courses in Sydney or Online.

Philosophy is the study of human existence, which calls us to critique our own pre suppositions, and asks us to assess ideas in relation to our own lives and society. Learn Philosophy with our Philosophy courses in Sydney or Online - short courses open to everyone.

Mill, Kierkegaard, Marx, Darwin, Freud and Dostoyevsky. What a century! There are so many towering intellects to choose from it is difficult to decide who has had the most impact on the twentieth and twenty first century. Marx utterly transformed political theory and political reality; Darwin’s evolutionary theory has affected almost every area of science and social theory; and even if Freud’s theory of the unconscious is objectively a ‘fiction’ it became one of the most powerful subjective realties of self understanding. We will also cover the beginnings of Existentialism, with Kierkeggard; Mill’s contribution to political theory, and the novels of Dostoyevsky.

Learning Outcomes

At the completion of this philosophy course you will:

  1. Have an overview of the main features of the 19th c, its history and significance.
  2. Have gained insights into the individual thinkers and their contribution to the development of philosophy, politics and psychology.
  3. Be able to discuss the implications of the century for our contemporary world view.
  4. Have gained insights into the foundations of some of the ideas which affect our person identities as humans.
  5. Be able to apply some of the ideas to personal decision making mechanisms.

Course Content

This philosophy course will cover the following topics:

Introduction to the Nineteenth Century

J. S. Mill (1806-1873) The fall and rise of a reputation: Mill and Modernism

In the last twenty years Mill’s philosophy has grown in importance compared to other theories of social and political life. We will study his psychology, moral science, political economy and his views on women. Text: On Liberty.

Mill on Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is one of the most powerful tools for making social and political judgements; the problem is that it appears seductively simple: we need to consider if this theory meets the needs of a complex, global world.

Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

We will investigate the nature of ‘faith’ and its relation to ethics. Kierkegaard uses Biblical stories such as Abraham’s sacrifice of his son to give an arena in which to examine ethical responsibility: is it ethical ever to give judgement to another, even if that other is God? Text: Fear and Trembling

Soren Kierkegaard and Existentialism

Kierkegaard provides an odd beginning to Existentialism in that most subsequent existentialists were atheistic; however the ‘existential angst’ of human existence is central to his ideas, and freedom to choose one’s essence the core of being human.

Karl Marx (1818-1883)

Don’t give up on Marx just yet!!! In the last few years some notable thinkers have reassessed Max’s ideas for the contemporary world; we will consider some of these new approaches.

Emerson’s Nature and Transcendental poetry.

We will consider Emerson on the issue of how humans ‘understand’ nature, and how language functions as a creative entity.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

Darwin is not a philosopher but his ideas had profound philosophical implications. One way of seeing the philosophy in the ideas is to study them through the work of philosophers such as G.E. Moore (1903) who is one of the first to understand the impact of evolution on moral philosophy. Text: The Descent of Man

Sigmund Freud (1850-1939)

Even if Freud’s theory of the unconscious is objectively a ‘fiction’ it became one of the most powerful subjective realties of self understanding. Text: Three Essays of the Theory of Sexuality.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The Idiot, Crime and Punishment

Intended Audience

This philosophy course is suitable for anyone interested in the fabulous philosophers of the 19th century and understanding their impact on our world today.

Delivery Style

This philosophy course will be delivered as an interactive workshop consisting of an instructor-led lecture, analysis of case studies and group discussions. This course strives to encourage active and informed participation, group analysis and debate of the facts, issues and insights into our changing world.

Course Prerequisites

This philosophy course has no prerequisites and is open to all members of the public.

About your instructor

Kerry Sanders

Kerry Sanders

Dr Kerry Sanders gained her PhD in philosophy at The University of Sydney and was recently awarded the title of Honorary Associate at the Department of Philosophy, The University of Sydney. She lectured at Sydney College of the Arts University of Sydney for 10 years, giving Hon and Masters Courses in the philosophy of aesthetics. Kerry has taught in the areas of Philosophy of Mind; Ethics; Critical Thinking; Political Philosophy; Contemporary Philosophy of Technology; Phenomenology; and the Philosophy of Music. She has a particular interest in the new developments in neurobiology which have significantly changed ideas about the nature of consciousness and the workings of the human mind. Kerry also participates in the Gifted Students Program, giving philosophy sessions to high school students who show an interest in a broad scope of ideas and wish to develop their thinking abilities through the challenge which philosophy gives. Kerry has also published a book of poetry.

Kerry’s Approach to Philosophy

Philosophy is a living practice which calls us to critique our own pre suppositions, and asks us to assess ideas in relation to our own lives and society. In engaging with the ideas of philosophy we both study philosophy but also do it. Philosophy can be thought of as engaging in an ‘adventure sport for the mind’, in which we can develop critical thinking techniques and learn to use the mind in new and exciting ways. The skills which are developed in the practice of philosophy are also relevant to many other areas of academic study, as well as in the complex living of our ordinary lives. Much of Western philosophy is based on the priority of reason and logic in human thought, however to fully understand the human condition we must also consider the role of experience, emotions and the body.

Other Academic functions
  • Supervision of Postgraduate Seminar Groups.
  • University Preparation Course in Philosophy 2000 – 2015.
  • Sydney College of the Arts University of Sydney.
  • Four years of Australian Postgraduate Research Award.
  • Vera Edith Thorpe Scholarship.


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Course Features

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