Framework curricula for secondary schools

Developmental requirements

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Developmental requirements
Philosophical thinking builds upon cognitive skills, such as problem solving, familiarity with reasoning techniques, applying logical procedures (analysis, synthesis, deduction, induction). It also requires integration skills which eventually manifest themselves in the formation of independent judgement, which is the operation of the highest degree. Lessons in philosophy provide an opportunity for logical thinking developed over twelve years of education and the knowledge acquired over this period to be revealed in its entirety.

A philosophical problem may be raised and elaborated in a verbal discussion or debate, by reading texts, or in the form of a written essay or study. Thus, the prerequisite of elaboration is firm grounding in the language, argumentation skills, and the ability to identify the possible connections of differing assumptions, and the need for formulating one’s own position. When a philosophical problem is raised and elaborated through presenting an excerpt from a philosophical text, analytic skills, the ability to work out possible interpretations and the underlining logical relations of thoughts, the ability of chronological orientation and evaluation will come into the limelight.

Students’ statements should give evidence of their openness towards various systems of thought as well as the ability of independent enquiry and the need for formulating a personal position. When interpreting philosophical texts, such abilities may be assessed on the basis of how problems are raised, how questions are formulated and what approaches are taken.

New activities
Due to the specific nature of the subject, it is equally necessary to improve cognitive skills (i.e. analysis, synthesis, deduction, induction) and integration skills.

Learning how a particular problem can be raised in daily life, in an artistic, scientific, philosophical or religious manner.

Formulating simple moral issues and problems of life as philosophical questions, and interpreting them from a philosophical point of view.

Reading simple philosophical texts.

Becoming familiar with the terminology and basic concepts of philosophy, and the possibility of interpretation in philosophy through reading.

Practising how to understand and define previously unknown concepts with the help of the context.

Recognising a philosophical problem in the analysed passage with or without the teacher’s help.

Recognising the various argumentation techniques in the text being read.

Improving argumentation skills, and learning to tell the difference between correct and incorrect reasoning.

Each student should have a chance to form a personal opinion and argue for his/her position.

Preparing summary charts as part of the review of historico-cultural and interdisciplinary dimensions to reflect how different periods, events, trends, creators, works, ideas and problems are related to one another.

Students should learn how to use the major modern reference books of philosophy available in Hungarian translation, while actually using them.

Due to the specific nature of philosophy, the following two Curriculum variations allow teachers to choose from different approaches. The common requirement of both approaches is that students should become familiar with the ideas of six or eight philosophers and discuss four or five problems.
A problem-oriented approach focussing on the history of philosophy and culture



Introductory conversation

A selected issue (question, problem) with various approaches (secular, artistic, scientific, philosophical); the subject of philosophy, the specifics of philosophical thought.

Greek philosophy

Arche and logos, existent and existence, belief and true knowledge, talking and thinking about the world, right in a moral sense, the Socratic method (pre-Socratic philosophy and Socrates).

Capturing stability in constant change, the possibility of true knowledge, right and wrong, the ideal state, the dialogue as a method (Plato), the criticism of the distinction between existent and essence; the duality of form and substance, the origin and existence of substance, ideal forms of state, right in a moral sense, virtues, the mean between two extremes (Aristotle), right in a moral sense, virtues, happiness, true knowledge of the outer world, the criteria of truth, spiritual and material world (Epicureans, Stoics, Sceptics, Neo-platonics).

Glossary of philosophical terms

cosmos, arche, logos, belief (doxa) vs. true knowledge (epistheme), sophistethes, dialectics, helping people to ‘give birth’ to insight, idea, share, memory, metaphysics, substance, virtue (areté), happiness, stoa, scepsis, ataraxia, hedone, apatheia, epokhe.

Recommended reading (excerpts)

Heraclitus: Fragments B1; Parmenides: Didactic poem B 81-61, Plato: Republic VII. 514a - 518b (the myth of the cave); Socrates Apology, Symposium (excerpts); Aristotle: Politics, Poetics (excerpts), Nikomakhos Ethics II. 5-6. 1106b-1107a; Epictetos: Little Handbook Chapter 1; Epicuros: Letter to Menoiceus(excerpt); Seneca: About the shortness of life.

Recommended interdisciplinary and historico-cultural links

Literature: philosophical concepts and influences related to the interpretation of the works read.

Greek literature: the works of Homer, the dramas of Euripid and Sophokles, mythology; Renaissance; enlightenment; neo-Classical; Romanticism; Baroque; Dante: Divine Comedy; Janus Pannonius; Balassi, Berzsenyi; Keats: Ode to a Greek Vase; Kosztolányi: Marcus Aurelius; Thomas Mann: Death in Venice.

Hungarian language: language and thought, rhetoric;

history: the ancient Greece, the ancient Rome; biology and geography: theories about the origin of the universe and the birth of life, Hippokrates, Ptolemaios; physics and the history of mathematics: Thales, Pythagor, Euclid, Arkhimed; painting: Raphael: School in Athens; the art of antiquity (painting, architecture, sculpture).
Recommended topics for written and oral assignments (essay, discussion)

Belief and knowledge; Virtues in antiquity and in the present; The ideal state; The concept of love in Plato’s Symposion and Dante’s Divine Comedy; Research and learning is nothing but remembrance (Plato).

Philosophy in the Middle Ages

Christian theology and classical philosophy, the Christian concept of the universe and god (patristics), faith and knowledge, the dualism of body and soul.

The pursuit of happiness, the love of God, man’s search for truth, evil as the lack of life, free will (St. Augustine).

The relationship of general concepts and individual existence, truth approached by reason and truth approached by faith, the five ways to prove the existence of God, the scholastic method (scholasticism, St. Thomas Aquinas).

Glossary of philosophical terms:

Patristics, creation from scratch, theology, logos, immanent and transcendent world, happiness, bad (in a moral sense), free will, scholasticism, the debate about the universal, realism, nominalism, ontologic argument for God, the scholastic method, Thomism.

Recommended reading (excerpts)

St. Augustine: Confessions (Book VII, III-IV, VII, XI-XVI: the issue of free will and bad).

St. Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologiae, Pars. I., Questio I., Art. 1-2.
Recommended interdisciplinary and historico-cultural links

Literature: extending the philosophical dimension of questions raised by various works.

The literature of antiquity; Dante: Divine Comedy; Hungarian Baroque literature; autobiography; Miklós Bethlen; Ferenc Rákóczi II, Lev Tolstoy; Mihály Babits’s study on St. Augustine.

Hungarian language: the application of rhetoric.

History: Christianity, Europe in the 14th/15th century.

Fine arts: painting: St. Augustine as depicted by Botticelli and Dürer, Grünewald; architecture: Roman style, Gothic.

Recommended topics for written and oral assignments (essay, discussion)

What is the origin of evil? ‘Do not turn outwards - look into thyself; truth resides inside man’ (St. Augustine)

The signs of the influence of classical philosophy in St. Augustine’s proofs for God.

Modern philosophy

Looking for a firm epistemological starting point, experience and reason, scepticism, the theory and criticism of ‘innate ideas’ (Bacon, Descartes, Locke); (Link to Hungarian philosophy: János Apáczai Csere).

Social contract theories, questioning the legitimacy of power, public benefit and individual interest, radical break from the classical tradition of the law of nature (Hobbes, Locke, Spinoza, Rousseau).

Enlightenment, the potential and limitations of reason and the intellect, trust in scientific progress, (the encyclopaedists, Kant).

Superseding the empiricist and rationalist bias, the Copernican Revolution, the world of phenomena and ‘the thing in itself’, right in a moral sense (Kant).

A comprehensive metaphysical system, thought and existence, the development of freedom and spirit in the history of the world (Hegel).

Glossary of philosophical terms:

Rationalism and empiricism, systematic doubt, substances: God, an entity with thought and extension, innate ideas, idea, tabula rasa, the theory of social contract, law of nature, natural law, liberalism, Sapere aude!, reason, deism, empirical and non-empirical knowledge, analytic and synthetic judgements, the Copernican revolution, categorical imperative, absolute ideas, triad form: thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

Recommended reading (excerpts)

Descartes: Reflections on Metaphysics 1-3.

Locke: Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Book II, Chapter I, §1-5, Second Essay on Government, Chapters II., VII., XI-XII.

Rousseau: Social Contract, Books I-II.

Kant: In Response to the Question ‘What Enlightenment Is?’, The Critique of Pure Reason, Introduction.

Hegel: Lectures on the philosophy of the history of the world (excerpts)

Recommended interdisciplinary and historico-cultural links

Literature: philosophical impacts in connection with the discussed works.

Classicism, Sentimentalism, Rococo, Romanticism.

Moliere: Tartuffe; Goethe: Werther; Csokonai: To the Echo of Tihany; To Solitude; Schiller, Babits, Kosztolányi, Attila József; Bulgakov.

Hungarian language: language and cognition.

History: the modern concept of history and the periods of history.

Hungarian philosophy: János Apáczai Csere: Hungarian Encyclopadeia (1655).

Physics: Copernicus, Galilei, Descartes, Newton, Leibniz.

Chemistry: Boyle.

Mozart’s music.

Recommended topics for written and oral assignments (essay, discussion)

‘All things in the mind are first perceived by the senses’ (Locke).

Authority and the individual, public vs. individual benefit.

‘Enlightenment is mankind’s recovery from the immaturity it inflicted upon itself. (Kant) A Critical Analysis of Enlightenment.

Philosophy in the 19th and 20th centuries

The relationship between the individual and the world, the existence of the individual, individual choice, faith and existence, Dionysian, Apollonic and Socratic ideal, ‘revaluate every value’, God is dead, man as a creator of value, permanent return of the same thing, wish for power (Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzshe, link to Hungarian philosophy: Béla Hamvas). Phenomenology as a descriptive method and a priori discipline, human existence and essence, freedom, choice, responsibility, angst, Void, raising the question of existence again, existence and existent, art revealing existence, existence steps out of its concealment (Husserl, Sartre, Heidegger).

Struggle for understanding and changing the world, the material unity of the world, relationship of praxis and theory (Marx, Hungarian philosophy: Lukács).

The stages of cognition and theorising, the logical analysis and verification of statements, language and reality, the development of science (Comte, Vienna Circle, Wittgenstein, Kuhn, Hungarian philosophy: Ákos Pauler, Mihály Polányi, Imre Lakatos).

The transformation of human territory in the post-industrial society, manipulated consumption, knowledge becoming a power issue, no metaphysical centre; challenging meta-narratives, the integrating role of discourse (post-modern, e.g. Lyotard, Habermas).
Glossary of philosophical terms:

individual, existence, aesthetic / ethical and religious stage, Dionysian / Apollonic art, Übermensch, phenomenology, existentialism, materialism, positivism, analytic philosophy, logical positivism, verification, language games, statement, paradigm, post-modern, manipulation.

Recommended reading (excerpts)

Schopenhauer: The World as Will and Idea III, §31-33, Section IV (excerpts); Kierkegaard: Angst and Dread. Introduction (Abraham); Nietzsche: Zarathustra.

Foreword, Three transformations, The overman; Sartre: What Is Existentialism?; Heidegger: The origin of art (excerpt: Van Gogh: Peasant Shoes); Marx: Theses on Feuerbach; Comte: The Positive Spirit (excerpts); Schlick: The Turn of Philosophy (excerpts); Carnap: Eliminating Metaphysics (excerpts); Kuhn: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (excerpts); Lyotard: The Post-modern Condition (excerpts).
Recommended interdisciplinary and historico-cultural links

Literature: philosophical impacts in connection with the discussed works.

Greek dramas, Romanticism, Realism; Dostoevsky: Crime and Punishment; The Karamazov Brothers; Thomas Mann; existentialists, Sartre’s short stories and plays; Camus’s novels; Semprun: The Big Journey; Ady, Babits, Kosztolányi, Lőrinc Szabó, avant-garde; Tibor Déry, Attila József; 20th century epics, Peter Esterházy, Tandori.

Hungarian language: language and thought, language and cognition; reality and meaning.

History: religions of the world, Eastern philosophy, Europe from 1789 to 1914, Europe and the world in the 19th and 20th centuries, a bipolar world.

Art, architecture, painting.


Biology: Darwin.

Physics: Einstein, Heisenberg, Leó Szilárd, Ede Teller, Jenő Wigner.

Recommended topics for written and oral assignments (essay, discussion)

Man is what he makes himself to be (Sartre)

True and false statements. ‘One must be silent about what is impossible to talk about’ ‘The limits of my languages are the limits of my world’ (Wittgenstein); Why is there any existence, and not only void? (Heidegger).

Consumer society, manipulation.

The systematic approach



What is philosophy?

The definition, subject and origin of philosophy. Its relation to other disciplines, religion, art and everyday life.

Glossary of philosophical terms:

Amazement (thauma), experience (empirical); doubt (scepsis), logos.

Recommended reading (excerpts):

Plato: Letter Seven

Karl Jaspers: Introduction to Philosophy

Metaphysics and ontology

The birth of thinking about existence, monism, dualism, pluralism, immanence and transcendence.

Glossary of philosophical terms:

Arche, logos, metaphysics, phenomenon and reality, idea, share (methexis), remembrance (anamnesis), substance, essence, causality, teleology, existence.

Recommended reading (excerpts):

Parmenides: Fragment 8

Heraclitus: Fragments

Plato: The Myth of the Cave.

Aristotle: Metaphysics.

Immanuel Kant: Prolegomena.

Martin Heidegger: What is Metaphysics?


Scepticism, rationalism and empiricism, transcendentalism, essentialism and phenomenalism.

Glossary of philosophical terms:

Idola, empirical, rationalism, empiricism, scepticism, induction, criticism, transcendental method, Ding an sich, a priori synthetic judgement, truth.

Recommended reading (excerpts):

Francis Bacon: Novum Organum.

René Descartes: Discourse on Method.

Immanuel Kant: The Critique of Pure Reason, Introduction.

Friedrich Nietzsche: Truth and lie conceived in non-moral ways.

The philosophy of science

The development of science and the incomparability of scientific activities related to different periods.

Glossary of philosophical terms:

Verification, falsification, normal science, anomaly, change of paradigm.

Recommended reading (excerpts)

Karl Popper: The Logic of Scientific Investigation.

Thomas S. Kuhn: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

+ choice of a Hungarian author (e.g. Polányi, Lakatos).


Eudaemonist ethics and ethics of virtue, deontic ethics, ethical rationalism, emotivism, material and formal ethics.

Glossary of philosophical terms

Virtue, mesotes, equity, freedom, happiness, Eudaemonist ethics, sin, free will, Hume’s fork, maxim, autonomy, categorical imperative, freedom and responsibility.

Recommended reading (excerpts)

Aristotle: Nikomakhos Ethics.

Epictetus: Little Handbook.

Aurelius Augustinus: Confessions, Free will.

David Hume: Essay on Human Nature.

Immanuel Kant: The Critique of Practical Reason.

Jean-Paul Sartre: Existentialism.

The philosophy of religion

The traditional, metaphysical philosophical image of God; its problems, disintegration and the modern philosophical concept of God.

Glossary of philosophical terms:

Belief and knowledge, the rationalist criticism of religion, religion of natural reason, personal God.

Recommended reading (excerpts)

Aurelius Augustinus: Order.

St. Thomas Aquinas: Summa theologiae.

Voltaire: Philosophical Alphabet.

Sören Kirkegaard: Angst and Dread.

Plus a selected 20th century author (e.g. Béla Hamvas).

The philosophy of politics

The philosophical categorisation of politics. Separating politics from the questions of ethics. Contract theories, the modern civil society’s concept of freedom.

Glossary of philosophical terms:

Politics, sovereignty of peoples, public will, public benefit, freedom, (positive) discrimination.

Recommended reading (excerpts)

Niccolo Macchiavelli: The Prince.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Social Contract.

John Stuart Mill: Freedom.

Plus a selected 20th century author (e.g. István Bibó).

Prerequisites of moving ahead
It must be clear for students that philosophy as a way of thinking is, on the one hand, very different from every other activity of the human intellect, but on the other hand, it is also a combination of them. Students should recognise that the role of philosophy in human culture is to integrate, to synthesise and to transmit values.

Students must be able to interpret texts written by a particular author. Also, they should be able to recognise the typical context of various philosophical terms.

They should try to formulate some questions of everyday life as philosophical questions.

They can be expected to develop an objective and balanced debating style, logical reasoning, tolerance, the ability to consider alternative approaches and to acknowledge the freedom of choice and the constraints of freedom.

Years 9 through 11 of Education
Objectives and tasks
The primary objective of teaching physics in grammar school is to develop a modern view of the world based on physics, which is an inevitable part of general education.

Starting with the collective observation of physical phenomena and the experiences from experiments, students are led to recognise correlation and laws. The teacher’s task is to reveal the beauty of nature and the usefulness of physics for students. Students should realise that an up-to-date scientific education is a highly important component of a diverse universal human culture. Students should understand that physics is the basis of technical sciences, and technical development is made possible by physics, whereby it makes a direct contribution to the improvement of the quality of human life. On the other hand, knowledge does not only offer opportunities, it is also a responsibility. The future of mankind primarily depends on whether man - after having learnt the laws of nature - remains capable of adaptation to the order of nature. The knowledge of physics may be used for the protection of the natural environment, and this is not only the responsibility and obligation of scientists, but the common duty of every educated human being.

On the secondary level, knowledge is mainly acquired inductively. However, by developing students’ knowledge and abstraction skills, it may become possible to show them the other method of scientific investigation, that is deduction. Taking the established laws as a point of departure, new knowledge can be acquired through drawing conclusions (in physics, this is often done by using mathematical methods and computers), which are subsequently justified by experiments, if necessary.

By the age of 15-18 most students have developed a need to perceive and understand natural phenomena and the laws of nature coherently. Teachers may build on this interest when explaining students how modelling works. Modelling helps developing the ability to distinguish the important and the unimportant during the study of nature. Models are increasingly used by the humanities and economics, and the essence of this method can be efficiently demonstrated within the framework of teaching physics.

Students’ interest in learning about natural phenomena is not curiosity having an end in itself, and they expect teachers of physics to demonstrate the applications of theories in practice, and to give guidance in the world of modern technology.

Teaching physics should mainly focus on establishing links with other sciences, mathematics and technology.

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