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Modern Philosophy, Descartes to Kant

Phil. 126, Spring 2015
Prof. K. DeRose
Modern Philosophy, Descartes to Kant
T, Th 10:30-11:20, LC 317; disc 1Decartes to Kank photo

  • Poll Results ranking the most important early modern philosophers: html.  Your humble instructor’s own ranking of them: pdf.
  • 1/13 handout: word.
  • 16 min. video on the Thirty Years’ War: youtube.
  • My BIV scenario: link to fb note.
  • 1/15 handout: word.
  • 1/20 handout: word.
  • 1/22 handout: word.
  • 1/29 handout: word.
  • Leibniz outline: word.
  • Leibniz passages: word.
  • PCP: word.
  • RMA passage about Leibniz’s “it would not be you” idea: word.
  • Material relevant to Leibniz lectures, but not assigned:
    • page of Frank Jackson: pdf.
    • Phil Jackson, Sacred Hoops quotation: word.
    • Robert M. Adams, “Must God Create the Best?” Philosophical Review 81 (1972): 317-332: JSTOR pdf.
    • RMA passage about Leibniz’s “it would not be you” idea: word.
    • Marilyn McCord Adams, “Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supp. Vol. 63 (1989): 297-323: JSTOR pdf.
  • Information about the Feb.19 test: word.
  • 2/17 handout: word.
  • 2/24 handout: word.
  • 2/26 handout: word.
  • Note on relative identity: word.
  • Course papers info/topics: word.
  • 3/3 handout + Berkeley limericks: word.
  • 3/26 handout (with two corrected page numbers in red): word.
  • 3/31 handout: word.
  • 4/2 handout: word.
  • 4/7 handout: word.
  • Sections I – II.B (pp. 313-331) of my “Reid’s Anti-Sensationalism and His Realism” may be helpful on Reid: JSTOR link.
  • 4/16 handout: word.
  • Final exam info, questions: word.
  • 4/23 handout: word.

Provisional Syllabus

Course Description: An introduction to some major figures in the history of modern philosophy, with critical readings of Descartes, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Reid, and Kant. Intended to be taken in conjunction with PHIL 125a, although PHIL 125a is not a prerequisite.

Discussion Sections: Each student should sign up for and attend one of the discussion sections that meet weekly, and will be led by one of the course’s teaching fellows. Section attendance is mandatory.  Section locations TBA; section times & teaching fellows in charge:
sect. 1, E. Kress: Mon 9:25-10:15
sect. 2, E. Kress: Mon 10:30-11:20
sect. 3, M. Leisinger: Wed 4:00-4:50
sect. 4, M. Leisinger: Wed 5:00-5:50

Instructor’s Office hours: Tuesdays (on which Yale College classes meet), 12:00-1:15; Connecticut Hall, room 410
Books: The following books are required the first three listed should be available at Labyrinth Books (290 York Street).  The last one is available free on-line here.

  • D: Rene Descartes (D.A. Cress, tr.), Meditations on First Philosophy, 3rd ed. (Hackett)
  • L: G.W. Leibniz (D. Garber, R. Ariew, tr.), Discourse on Metaphysics and Other Essays (Hackett)
  • B: George Berkeley (K. Winkler, ed.), Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (Hackett)
  • H: David Hume (E. Steinberg, ed.), Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 2nd ed. (Hackett)
  • R: Thomas Reid, An Inquiry into the Human Mind; ed., tr. (?), J. Bennett.
  • K: Immanuel Kant (N. K. Smith, tr., ed.), Critique of Pure Reason, 2nd ed. (Palgrave Macmillan).

And this book is available on-line:

Books photo

Written work: Written requirements will consist of an in-class test (on February 19), a paper (6-8 pages, typed, double-spaced, due April 16 at the start of class), and a final examination (May 5, at 9 A.M.).
The Feb. 19 test will be on the material covered in lectures and the readings through Feb. 17.  It will consist of essay questions about this material.  Students will have to answer either two or three questions in blue books provided.  The questions will not be distributed in advance.  If we start getting ahead of the posted schedule or start falling behind it, the test will still be given on Feb. 19, and will be on the material actually covered through Feb. 17, not the material that was scheduled to be covered at that time.
The final exam (May 3, 2 p.m.) will consist of essay questions.  A list of questions will be distributed on April 21, and the questions that actually appear on the final will be taken from that list.  The final will be cumulative, covering the lectures and readings of the whole semester, but will emphasize the material covered after the Feb. 19 test.

Other course requirements: Attendance at lectures and discussion section.

Grading. Grades will be based roughly on the following formula, though adjustments will be made for insightful classroom and especially for section participation and for marked improvement over the course of the semester: Test: 25%; Paper: 40%; Final Exam: 35%. Lecture and section attendance are mandatory, and repeated unexcused absences are grounds for the lowering of one’s grade and, in serious cases, for failure — even if one’s written work is good.

Important Dates:
Test: Feb.19
Paper due: April 16
Final Exam: May 3

Topics, Readings and Tentative Schedule:

Descartes: Jan. 13, 15, 20, 22

Meditations on First Philosophy, Meds I-VI    D, pp. 13-59

R.M. Adams, "Sensible Qualities and the       Course Reserves: pp. xii-xvii of Adams's "Editor's
  Rise of Modern Science"                     Introduction" to Berkeley's Three Dialogues

Leibniz: Jan. 27, 29, Feb. 3, 5, Feb. 1, 3

Discourse on Metaphysics
    -sect. 1-14                               L, pp. 1-16
    -sect. 30-35                              L, pp. 31-39
    -sect. 1-29                               L, pp. 68-71
    -sect. 51-62                              L, pp. 75-77
    -sect. 78-81                              L, pp. 79-81

On the Ultimate Origination of Things,        L, pp. 46.1-47.5

Locke: Feb. 10, 12, 17

An Essay concerning Human Understanding.
    -Book I,  Ch. 1
              Ch. 2,  sects. 1-8, 15-16, 22
    -Book II, Ch. 1,  sects. 1-9
              Ch. 2
              Ch. 8,  sects. 7-26
              Ch. 9,  sect.  8
              Ch. 12, sects. 1-2
              Ch. 21, sects. 1-14, 19-27, 47-50
              Ch. 23, sects. 1-2
              Ch. 27  sects. 1-18

Test: Feb. 19, in class.  (Note: The test will be on this date even if we haven’t finished Locke by then.)

Berkeley: Feb. 24, 26, March 3, 5

A Treatise concerning the Principles           B, pp. 23-39, 42-46, 56-57, 78-87
 of Human Knowledge, Part I (not Intro!) 
 sects. 1-44, 50-59, 86-87, 135-156

Hume: March 24, 26, 31, April 2

Inquiry concerning Human Understanding,        H, pp. 1-37, 39-53, 102-114
   sects. 1-5, 7, 12

Reid: April 7, 9, 14

Inquiry into the Human Mind on the
  Principles of Common Sense
      -Dedication                              R, pp. 3-6
      -Chapter 1, sects. 7-8                   R, pp. 23-24
      -Chapter 2, sects. 3-7                   R, pp. 27-38
      -Chapter 4, sect. 2                      R, pp. 50-53
      -Chapter 5                               R, pp. 54-76
      -Chapter 6, sects. 1-9 and sect. 19      R, pp. 77-112, 166.5-202
          (beginning with "We have now
          finished..." at 166.5)-24
      -Chapter 7                               R, pp. 203-218

Kant: April 16*, 21, 23

Critique of Pure Reason
    Preface to the Second Edition              K, pp. 17-33.6        (Bvii-Bxxxvii)
    Introduction                               K, pp. 41-62          (B1-B30)
    Transcendental Aesthetic                   K, pp. 65-91          (B33-B73)
    Fourth Paralogism (A-version)              K, pp. 344.5-352.8    (A366-A380)
    Antinomy of Pure Reason                    K, pp. 393.7-402.3    (B448-B461)

*Paper due April 16, at start of class
Final Exam: Sunday, May 3, 2:00 P.M., room TBA


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