The focus of this course will be the philosophy of the central figures of the 17th- and 18th-century empiricist tradition: Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Reid. We shall explore the main works of these philosophers both systematically and diachronically and focus on the central themes common to them: the origin, nature, and scope of human knowledge; the relation of the self to the world; the relation of God to the world; the philosophical underpinnings of the emerging ‘new science’; and the practice of philosophy.
Students are required to write three essays of approximately 5-7 pages. While I shall provide topics for these essays, students may, after having consulted with me, write on some other relevant topic that they find more interesting. All graduate students, however, have the option of writing one longer paper of approximately 18-20 pages in length. Due-dates for these papers can be found in the schedule below.
Format and Participation:
This course will be a mixture of lecture and discussion. I expect all students to have read the assigned material prior to class, to have thought about it, and to come to class prepared to discuss it. In cases where a student’s grade may be on the borderline, I will reward those students who contributed to the class.
John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, ed. P. Nidditch, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975.
George Berkeley, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, ed. J. Dancy, Oxford: OUP, 1998.
David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, eds. D. & M. Norton, Oxford: OUP, 2000.
David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, ed. T. Beauchamp, Oxford: OUP, 1999.
David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, ed. R. Popkin, 2nd edition, Indianapolis: Hackett, 1998.
Thomas Reid, Inquiry and Essays, eds. R. Beanblossom & K. Lehrer, Indianapolis: Hackett, 1983.