Philosophy | Topics in the History of Modern Philosophy
P522 | 3408 | Morgan

The seventeenth century is a critical period for the shaping of modern
philosophy.  The major philosophers of the century, from Descartes and
Hobbes to Locke and Leibniz, were stimulated to creative philosophical
systematic work by the rise of the new science, by a century of
dramatic changes in religious life and thought, by political turmoil,
and by the recovery of ancient learning.  While their thinking looks
back to the Middle Ages and even to antiquity in many ways, it is
nonetheless novel, powerful, and innovative.  For us, these thinkers
created the foundations of modern philosophy, the paradigms that led
to later critiques and revolutions and ultimately to our own
contemporary philosophical world.

In this course we shall look at three major figures of the period 
Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz.  All three have come in for rich and
exciting recent discussion, and all are considered central
philosophers of the century.   In each case we shall read a variety of
works, explore controversial issues of interpretation, and study
important secondary literature.  In one semester we cannot be
comprehensive, but we can acquaint ourselves in a serious way with the
central epistemological and metaphysical issues that these figures
raised, as well as issues concerning science, theology, ethics, and
politics, and we can familiarize ourselves with the most recent
discussion of them and their work.

There will be textual commentaries due on each of the figures and a
term essay.  I conceive of this course as a graduate introduction to
17th century philosophy; we shall read extensively in texts and
secondary literature and students may be asked to report in class on
their reading.

For further information, contact me at: