This course will continue the history of philosophy from the beginning of the 17th-century to the end of the 18th-century, concentrating on the central issues of metaphysics and epistemology: the nature and limits of human knowledge, the nature of the mind and of the self, the relation of mind to body, the existence of God, the nature of causality, and so on. We shall focus on the works of the most important philosophers of this period: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant.
There will be two mid-term (essay) exams during the course of the semester, each of which will count for 25% of the final grade. There will also be a final (essay) exam. It will count for the remaining 50% of the final grade. — There will be no make-up exams.
By “essay exam” is meant that students will be required to write several short essays in the allotted time. Here are some sample topics: (1) How does Descartes argue for the existence of God? How convincing are these arguments? (2) What is the “mind-body problem,” and how do Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz try to solve it? Are any of their views tenable? (3) How does Berkeley argue against materialism? Do you agree with his arguments? (4) What is the problem of induction for Hume? How does he analyze the relation of causality and our knowledge of it? (5) How does Kant respond to Hume’s analysis of causality? (6) Drawing on three philosophers of our period, answer the question: do all our ideas derive from experience?
Modern Philosophy: An Anthology of Primary Sources, ed. Ariew and Watkins, Hackett: Indianapolis, 1998.