Modern Philosophy (PHIL 720/001)

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Instructor: Alan Nelson. This seminar meets on Thursdays from 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. in Caldwell 213. It counts toward the distribution requirement in Modern History.

Scientific Method: Mathematics, Nature, Morals, and Politics   A characteristic ambition of early modern philosophy was to develop a unified method for gaining knowledge.  There were to be  sciences of morals and politics, as well as of math, physics, etc..

After a brief look at the Aristotelian background, we will examine Descartes’ version of this doctrine in some of his methodological, scientific, and ethical writings.  We will then work on Hobbes focusing onLeviathan.Time permitting, some consideration will be given to some extracts from texts by Locke, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hume, and Kant.

Texts:  1. Descartes’ Philosophical Writings, Volume 1.               (Cottingham et al, CUP).

2. Leviathan.  Hobbes.

3. Made with Words: Hobbes on Language, Mind, and Politics.

Pettit (PUP).

4.  Online stuff.

Alan Nelson’s webpage