Examination of metaphysical and epistemological problems from the works of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant.
Between the late sixteenth and late eighteenth centuries, political and scientific revolutions would stamp Europe with what we can now recognize as the hallmarks of modernity. Philosophers not only struggled to understand the changes taking place around them, they were also crucial actors in forming the new intellectual and social world. This course will survey the development of philosophy in the early modern period. We will study in some detail philosophical texts from both the so-called "rationalist" and "empiricist" traditions and conclude with an examination of Immanuel Kant's critique and synthesis of these traditions in his Critique of Pure Reason. While we shall focus on metaphysical and epistemological questions and their implications for scientific inquiry, we shall also touch upon questions of ethics, politics, and medicine. This course will have three goals: 1) to understand the texts themselves and their place within each philosopher's intellectual development; 2) to understand the interrelations of the texts and their place in the development of philosophy in this period; and 3) to glimpse the place of philosophy within the complex intellectual and social world of the time.
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