Paul L. Franco
Examination of metaphysical and epistemological problems from the works of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant.
In this course, we will read and interpret some of the major philosophical works of the modern period (approximately the 16th-18th centuries) including writings by Rene Descartes, George Berkeley, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant. Our readings emphasize these authors’ views on metaphysics and epistemology. In metaphysics, we’ll look at these authors’ theories about the types of substances the natural world is made up of, the relationship between the mind and the body, and the nature of God. An important assumption of the authors we’ll read is that their metaphysical theories are constrained by our epistemological theories. We must first determine the limits and scope of human knowledge and find the best methods for finding truth before forming any grand metaphysical theories. The aim of this course is not necessarily to provide a sweeping survey of the entirety of the Early Modern period. Instead, we will focus on a few seminal and representative texts in especially appropriate to the metaphysical and epistemological themes noted above. We will also explore how these authors helped shape views about the relationship between science, religion, and philosophy. Moreover, we will have the opportunity to consider how the arguments, ideas, and concerns of Modern Philosophy have helped set the contours of the philosophical landscape for years to come. TEXTS: Required: Descartes Selected Philosophical Writings, Rene Descartes (translated by Cottingham, Stoothoff Murdoch); A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, George Berkeley (edited by Jonathan Darcy); An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, David Hume (edited by Tom L. Beauchamp); Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (with selections from the Critique of Pure Reason), Immanuel Kant (edited by Gary Hatfield); Optional: Descartes and the Meditations, Gary Hatfield; Kant, Paul Guyer.
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