PHIL 220.001 – Modern Philosophy: Descartes to Hume

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Instructor: Caspar Wilson. This course meets MWF 9:05 – 9:55 a.m. in PE 204.

With great advances in our understanding of the natural world, during a period in European history referred to as the enlightenment (roughly 1600-1780), a scientific image of the world emerged that challenged traditional philosophical ideas concerning our access to the external world, the nature of mind, the role of God and the nature of reality. In this course we will look how some philosophers of this period try to either systematically accommodate this scientific image with their theological and philosophical commitments, or take up this new image in order to challenge a philosophical status quo that for more than a thousand years had been rooted in the work of Aristotle.

This course concentrates on the epistemology (theory of knowledge) and metaphysics (theory of reality) of six major thinkers from the Modern era: Rene Descartes, Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz (the Rationalists,) and John Locke, George Berkeley and David Hume (the British Empiricists,) but other thinkers and topics will make occasion appearances.