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Berkeley, Hume and Reid

Phil. 413/613, Spring, 2000
Mondays, 1:30-3:20; 305 CT Hall
Prof. K. DeRose
Office hours: Tu, 10:20-11:20; Th, 1-2; 410 CT Hall
berkeley   hume2   reid3
For those taking the Final Exam: Come to the seminar room (305 Connecticut Hall) to take your final at one of the following times: Wednesday, May 3, from 2-3 PM, or Monday, May 8, from 9 -10 AM.  If you cannot make either of those times, then e-mail me very soon to set up an alternative time.  The final exam question is now toward the bottom of this site.  (I distributed the question in seminar, but it’s here in case you lose it, or weren’t able to attend seminar the week it was distributed.)

4/12: Note the new due date for the course paper under “written work” (it’s been moved back from 4/21 to 4/24).

2/24: The Reid books (Hackett edition) are now available at Book Haven.

2/1: Note the specifications (mostly due dates) added to the “Written Work” section, below.

1/24: Course packs, containing *’d readings, are now available at Tyco, 262 Elm Street.

Readings for 1/17: Start reading the assigned Berkeley.  It’s best to have it all read by next meeting, but otherwise get as far as you can, and certainly at least through sect. 33 of the Principles.

Brief description: A study of the metaphysics and epistemology of Berkeley, Hume, and Reid, focussing on Berkeley’s Principles of Human Knowledge, Hume’s Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, and Reid’s Inquiry into the Human Mind.

Expanded description:  After a brief look at some relevant portions of the philosophy of Descartes and Locke (for background), we will focus on the metaphysics and epistemology of Berkeley, Hume, and Reid. Topics will include the epistemology of perception, skepticism, naturalism, causation, inductive knowledge, knowledge of God’s existence, and the mind/body problem. We will follow these topics through the writings of our three philosophers, paying special attention to the arguments involved when one author seems to be responding directly to another (Reid responding to Berkeley and/or Hume, Hume responding to Berkeley or to Reid). Our purpose will be to understand these philosophers’ views and arguments and how they relate to each other, and also to use their often brilliant arguments as an occasion to pursue the issue of what the truth of the matter is with regard to the issues debated by these great, dead philosophers. Our principal readings will be: all of Berkeley’s Principles of Human Knowledge, Part I,  supplemented by portions of his Three Dialogues; most of Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, supplemented by portions of his Treatise of Human Nature and Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion; and most of Reid’s Inquiry into the Human Mind, supplemented by portions of his Essays on the Intellectual Powers of the Human Mind.

Written work will consist of an in-class, closed-book final exam; a 1-2 page paper proposal (due Monday, April 10, at class); and a final paper of 10-15 pages (typed, double-spaced; due Monday, April 24, by 4:00 PM, in DeRose’s mailbox, 108 Connecticut Hall).  Graduate students may instead take the option of writing a longer paper (17-21 pages) and skipping the final exam.

Books:  Almost all of our readings from Berkeley and Hume will be from The Empiricists, which should be available at Book Haven — 290 York Street.  (We’ll also read a bit of Hume’s Treatise, which is not in that book.  I’ll make xeroxes of the relevant sections available.)  With Reid, since our focus will be on his Inquiry, probably the best book to have is the critical edition of the Inquiry, edited by Derek Brookes, that came out a few years back.  But it’s a bit expensive, typically going for $55, and its availability isn’t all that great.  Right now (1/5/00), claims to have some in stock that they’re selling at 30% savings for $38.50 (with shipping costs, it’ll come to $42.45).  This may be good choice, especially for those who may be interested in working on Reid further in the future.  Here’s a link to the relevant B&N web page: – Thomas Reid an Inquiry into the Human Mind : On the Principles of Common Sense : A Critical Edition .  We will be reading some of Reid’s Essays on the Intellectual Powers, which are not in that book.  As with Hume’s Treatise, we’ll handle this by xeroxes.  A cheaper book, which will be fine for the purposes of this course, is the old Hackett edition of Reid’s Inquiry and Essays.  This actually has an advantage over the other choice in that in includes some — but not all — of the portions of Reid’s Essays that we’ll be reading.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t contain the full text of Reid’s Inquiry, and it cuts out some of the stuff we’ll be looking at there.  Again, for those who go this route, we’ll handle this problem with xeroxes.  Those who want to get a jump on reading Reid can get this book from B&N ( – Thomas Reid’s Inquiry and Essays) or ( buying info: Thomas Reid’s Inquiry and Essays).  B&N is probably better, because they claim to have it in stock (as of 1/5), and are shipping it within 24 hours, while amazon says it will take 1-2 weeks before they can send it.  All in all, I think the critical edition of the Inquiry will be slightly more convenient for those in this class, but considerably more expensive.  We won’t be getting to Reid until later in the semester, so there’s no great rush.  I’ll check at our first meeting, and if enough people would prefer the Hackett edition, and would prefer to buy it at a real book store (where it will probably work out to be a bit cheaper, since you won’t each have to pay for shipping), I’ll order some copies of it through Book Haven.  (2/24: These are now available at Book Haven.)


Principles, Part I, sects. 1-156  E, pp. 151-215
First Dialogue                    E, pp. 237.3-237.8
Second Dialogue                   E, pp. 252.7-254.8
Third Dialogue                    E, pp. 273.5-277.7
                                  E, pp. 279.9-280.5
                                  E, pp. 284.6-286.6
Treatise, Book I, Part IV*
Enquiry, sects. I-VII, XII        E, pp. 307-364, 417-430
Dialogues, sect. I                E, pp. 433-442
Inquiry: all, except for          Brookes, pp. 3-6, 11-112,
  Chapter VI, sects. X-XVIII,                  166.5-218
  and most of sect. XIX           Hackett, pp. 3-78, 82-121,
                                           plus inserts*

Essays on the Intellectual
    Essay I, Chapt. 1
    Essay II, Chapt. 5, 10-12,
              14, 16-7, 19-20,
    Essay IV
    Essay VI, Chapt. 1, 5
    Essay VII, Chapt. 4
Secondary literature: "Hume and Reid"*, "Reid's
Anti-Sensationalism and His Realism"*
Final Exam:

Those taking the final will have one hour to write an answer to the following question, without the aid of notes or books.

Explain, compare, and contrast the views of Berkeley, Hume, and Reid on the following.  How do we come to believe that there are mind-independent physical objects?  What role do our sensations play in our coming to have this belief?  How does our thought about physical objects relate to our thoughts about our sensations?  (Do we take the physical objects to be like our sensations?)  Is our belief in mind-independent physical objects justified?  Why or why not?

The final can be taken on Wednesday, May 3, from 2-3 PM or Monday, May 8, from 9 -10 AM in 305 Connecticut Hall.  E-mail me soon if you can’t make either of those times.

Useful Links:
.JSTOR -- Philosophy Journals.
.Philosopher's Index.
.Alston's "Perceiving God" on JSTOR.
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