PHIL 220.001 – Modern Philosophy: Descartes to Hume

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Instructor: John Phillips. This course meets MW 8:00 – 9:15 a.m. in PE 220.

In this course, we will read the work of several major philosophers of the early modern period (that is, roughly, the 17th and 18th centuries), including René Descartes, Gottfried Leibniz, George Berkeley, and David Hume. Our focus will be on a group of interrelated metaphysical and epistemological questions that these philosophers tried to answer, such as: What kinds of things are the human mind, the body, the ‘outside’ world, and God? Do they all exist? How are they related to each other? Is it possible for us to have knowledge about each of them, and if so, how?

We will both take a historical interest in these questions, trying to understand the thinking of each philosopher in the context of their times and influences, and also critically consider how they can help us arrive at our own answers.

Enrollment in the course requires that you have taken at least one other course in Philosophy.

Prerequisite: 1 PHIL course.