SRSP 16-19 Topic 1 Unit 1b – Knowing and Believing


The main thrust of this topic is the nature of and relation between Faith and Reason and the associated truth claims. This, therefore, follows on from and assumes to some degree what has been studied under the previous topic 1a) ‘What is real?’. Basic concepts like the correspondence and the coherence theories of truth will be revisited briefly.

The main epistemological theories will be discussed. The background file contains some material on the philosophical reasoning of the Pre-Socratics and their truth claims. The attacks of the Sophists and the conclusion of Socrates: ‘I know that I know nothing’, compared with Plato and Aristotle, were an important turning point in the debate on the whole question of ‘How can we know?’ (Lesson 1).

After this we look further into the most popular forms of epistemology:

  • Descartes’ rationalism (Lesson 2)
  • Aristotle and David Hume and empiricism (Lesson 3)
  • Revealed knowledge: Saint Augustine (Lesson 4)

This topic concludes with a lesson on Relativism in Science and Religion

This unit consists of 5 lessons and is suitable for students aged from 16 to 19 years


Key Questions

  • How can we find out what is ‘true’?
  • Is there any way of really knowing with certainty?
  • Might life be just an illusion?
  • Are cause and effect actually linked?
  • How deeply are we influenced by habits, tradition, culture?

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Unit Resources

Unit Overview (Word)

Background Lesson Plan: What is an argument? (Word)


Lesson 1

Lesson Plan: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 1: Socrates (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 1[LA]: Socrates (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 2: Plato (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 2[LA]: Plato (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 3: Aristotle (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 3[LA]: Aristotle (Word)


Lesson 2

Lesson Plan: Descarte’s Rationalism (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 4: Descartes (Word)


Lesson 3

Lesson Plan: Empiricism (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 3: Aristotle (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 3[LA]: Aristotle (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 5: David Hume (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 6: Psalm 139 (Word)


Lesson 4

Lesson Plan: Augustine: Revelation as knowledge (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 7: Cathedrals (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 8: St. Augustine (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 8[LA]: St. Augustine [LA] (Word)


Lesson 5

Lesson Plan: Relativism (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 9: Relativism (Word)

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