Texts

Over the years, the A level syllabi have included studies of various philosophical texts, typically broken down by topic. Writings on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Kant’s Groundwork for a Metaphysic of Morals, and Mill’s Utilitarianism can be found on the Routledge companion website for A level philosophy. My writings on other texts are collected here.

Under each text title below, the mini-essays (originally designed as handouts) are listed in logical order, and later essays may well presuppose knowledge of earlier ones.

Plato’s Republic

Descartes’ Meditations

Hume’s Enquiry concerning Human Understanding

Mill’s On Liberty

Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil

Sartre’s Existentialism and Humanism

Plato’s Republic

  1. The Theory of Forms
  2. The Similes of the Divided Line and the Cave
  3. The Form of the Good
  4. The Philosopher’s Knowledge and Virtue
  5. The Nature of Justice
  6. Philosopher Rulers
  7. On Democracy

Descartes’ Meditations

A commentary on the text

  1. Descartes’ sceptical arguments
  2. Reason, intuition and knowledge
  3. The Cartesian circle
  4. Descartes’ proof of the existence of the external world
  5. Descartes’ Trademark argument for God’s existence
  6. Descartes’ cosmological argument for God’s existence
  7. Descartes’ ontological argument for God’s existence
  8. Descartes’ conceivability argument for substance dualism
  9. Descartes’ indivisibility argument for substance dualism
  10. The problem of interaction for substance dualism
  11. The union of mind and body

Hume’s Enquiry concerning Human Understanding

  1. The origin of concepts: Hume on impressions and ideas
  2. Hume’s psychology
  3. The nature and scope of knowledge
  4. Causation
  5. The problem of induction
  6. Free will
  7. Miracles

Mill’s On Liberty

  1. Democracy and tyranny of the majority
  2. Liberty
  3. The Harm principle
  4. Harm and offence
  5. Freedom of thought and expression
  6. Freedom of action
  7. Individuality
  8. Applications of Mill’s Harm principle and utilitarianism

Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil

On reading Nietzsche

  1. A critique of previous philosophers
  2. Perspectivism about truth
  3. The ‘new philosophers’
  4. Eternal return
  5. On free will and the will to truth
  6. The will to power
  7. Morality and human nature
  8. Three histories of morality
  9. Master and slave moralities
  10. Herd morality and the critique of ‘modern ideas’
  11. Nobility
  12. On religion

Sartre’s Existentialism and Humanism

  1. On freedom
  2. On atheism