PHIL133-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Philosophy and Human Nature

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


The human record is full of contradictions. We are capable all at once of selfless love and murderous depravity; of sublime rational insight and base stupidity; of soul-baring honesty and habitual duplicity; of principled rebellion and obsequious deference to authority; of generosity and jealousy. What, then, is our true nature? Are we rational creatures or are we enslaved by our passions? Are we moral creatures or are we fundamentally selfish? Can we improve the human situation either individually or collectively? Does it all depend on our evolutionary history? This course is an introduction to Western philosophy through the ideas of Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Marx, Nietzsche, Darwin, and other influential thinkers as they puzzle over the riddles of human nature.

Not only is philosophy one of the most interesting and challenging subjects, it teaches skills that employers want: thinking outside the box, logic, ethics, and excellent writing and communication skills. At UC you can do either a BA or a BSc in Philosophy, or combine a Philosophy major with the LLB, BCom, or another degree.

BA or BSc students who major in philosophy must normally take at least two 100-level PHIL courses, plus at least three 200-level PHIL courses (including PHIL233), plus at least 60-points from 300-level PHIL courses (including at least one course from this list: PHIL305; PHIL310; PHIL311; and PHIL317). For more information see the BA regulations and/or the BSc regulations.

Learning Outcomes

  • In this course you will learn:
  • An understanding of influential theories and ideas about human nature.
  • Familiarity with some highlights from the history of Western philosophy.
  • Better critical thinking through engagement with issues of permanent importance in philosophy and everyday life.
  • A foundation for further study in philosophy.
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Biculturally competent and confident

      Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.

Course Coordinator

Michael-John Turp

Contact Michael-John for further information.


Please refer to Learn or contact the course coordinator for updated assessment information.

Textbooks / Resources

Roger Trigg, Ideas of human nature : an historical introduction, 2nd edition (Blackwell, 1999). Copies are available in UBS and in the High Demand Collection in the Library.

(*Image: Editorial cartoon depicting Charles Darwin as an ape (1871), available under public domain.)

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $821.00

International fee $3,750.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Humanities .

All PHIL133 Occurrences

  • PHIL133-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023