History of Modern Philosophy
In this course, we shall read and analyze some of the centrally important works of seventeenth-and eighteenth-century philosophy. Our readings will include writings from Descartes, Locke, Hume, and Kant. We shall focus on metaphysics (the fundamental nature of reality) and epistemology (theory of knowledge). Some of the metaphysical questions dealt with by these authors concern the existence and nature of mind, matter and God, and the problem of human freedom. Some of the epistemological questions dealt with by these authors concern how much and what kind of knowledge we gain by the senses and by pure reason, and the limits of the human intellect. While we shall read these authors in order to get a sense of their historical relations to each other, the aim of the course is not to provide a sweeping survey of philosophy from Descartes through Kant. Rather, the aim is to focus on a few seminal texts in the history of modern philosophy especially appropriate to the themes noted above.