PHIL 220.001 – 17th and 18th Century Western Philosophy

Text:
Increase font size
Decrease font size

Instructor: Markus Kohl. This course meets TR 8:00 – 9:15 p.m. in CW 105.

This course is an introduction to major themes and figures in early modern philosophy. We will study the doctrines of six philosophers whose thought has had an enormous influence on subsequent philosophy and on subsequent intellectual developments more generally: Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. We will focus our attention mostly on the answers that these philosophers gave to classical epistemological and metaphysical questions, such as the following: Can we prove that there is a real world outside the mind, or could we always be dreaming (or be living in the Matrix) for all that we can tell? Is the mind identical to the brain, or are mind and body two different substances? Can we prove that God exists? How can we know mathematical truths about numbers or triangles? Are apples really green, or is greenness nothing but a subjective sensation in our mind? Are we rationally justified in thinking that the sun will rise tomorrow, or that a stone must fall to the ground if dropped? Does the existence or the character of objects depend on our minds? We will consider the answers that modern philosophers gave to these questions, both in light of the scientific developments of the 17th and 18th centuries and in their own right.

This course has no prerequisites; no previous courses in philosophy are required.