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History of Modern Philosophy Syllabus (Spring 2018)

History of Modern Philosophy Syllabus (Spring 2018)
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  PHIL 3002: History of Modern Philosophy Spring 2019 Syllabus Instructor: Daniel J. Smith Office: 323 Clement Hall Email: Office Hours: Tuesday 1:30-2:30; Thursday 1:30-2:30 CRN: 12088 Class Hours: TR 9:40-11:05 Class Location: Clement Hall 133 Course Description:  This course will provide students with an overview of the major figures and topics of early modern European philosophy. These philosophers were responding to the dramatic changes that were taking place in European culture stemming from the “scientific revolution”, and the main themes and concerns of their work emerge from this context. We will discuss topics such as the character of scientific explanation; the relationship between the mind and the body; conceptions of God; the nature of causality; the emotions; personal identity; the problem of evil; and the possibility of a comprehensive mechanistic explanation of nature. These themes have remained central to the development of philosophy up to the present day, and so this course will also give students a solid grounding for upper level philosophy courses. Recent scholarship has drawn attention to diverse and often marginalised voices who were also  writing philosophy during this period. Alongside canonical figures such as Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hume and Kant, we will read early modern women philosophers such as Elizabeth of Bohemia and Anne Conway, as well as Ghanaian-British philosopher Ottobah Cugoano. We will also discuss the meta-philosophical issue of canon formation by investigating the changes that the discipline of “history of philosophy” went through in this time.   Course Goals and Objectives:      Develop familiarity with the major themes and figures in early modern philosophy    Develop skills in textual interpretation and critical reading     Analyse and evaluate the arguments that the philosophers put forward    Compare and contrast the positions taken by different philosophers    Learn how to articulate a philosophical argument clearly and concisely    Learn how to carry out a productive discussion about a philosophical work    Obtain the necessary grounding to be successful in upper-level philosophy courses    Reflect on how canons are formed, and how we decide what makes texts count as “philosophy”    Syllabus History of Modern Philosophy | Spring 2019 2 Required Texts: 1.   René Descartes, Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy   [fourth edition] trans. Donald A. Cross, Cambridge: Hackett 2.    John Locke,  An Essay Concerning Human Understanding  , ed. Kenneth P. Winkler, Cambridge: Hackett 3.   Baruch Spinoza,  Ethics, Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect and Selected Letters ed. Seymour Feldman, trans. Samuel Shirley, Cambridge: Hackett 4.    Anne Conway, The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy ed. Allison P. Coudert and Taylor Corse, New York: Cambridge University Press 5.   David Hume,  An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, with A Letter from a Gentleman to his Friend in Edinburgh and Hume  ’s Abstract of a Treatise of Human Nature [second edition], ed. Eric Steinberg, Cambridge: Hackett 6.   Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason   trans. Werner Pluhar, Cambridge: Hackett  All other readings will be posted on eCourseware. Graded Requirements: 1.   C LASS  A  TTENDANCE :   10%.  2. C LASS P  ARTICIPATION : 25%.  3. W  IKI ENTRY  : 65%.  Over the semester, we will be collectively developing a course wiki. Each student will put together an entry focusing on a particular concept or theme that is discussed by several of the philosophers we will study. Possible topics include: dualism and monism; substance; the emotions; the scientific method; machines; slavery and the Enlightenment; proofs for the existence of God; matter; women and early modern philosophy; evil; rationalism and empiricism; science and religion; the cogito ; innate ideas; and so on. Entries should include a brief explanation of  why this theme is important to early modern philosophy in general, a precis of each philosopher’s  view, and an introduction to at least one interpretive issue that is debated in the secondary literature. Students should also include links to pages by their peers, when relevant. A portion of the grade will be allocated on the basis of how well each student has collaborated with others.  Although the final glossary entry is not due until the final week, students should keep it updated as  we go through the semester. The first version of the glossary, covering Descartes; Elizabeth of Bohemia; Malebranche; Poullain de la Barre; Locke and Spinoza, will be due before Spring break (exact date tba). The second, also covering Leibniz; Conway; Cugoano and Hume, will be due on  April 4 th . Students will receive substantial feedback on these two early versions of their entry, first from their peers and second from the instructor. The final version of the entry is due on the last day of class, April 23 rd .  Wikipedia is a notoriously bad source for philosophy, particularly for early modern philosophy. Students are encouraged to help fix this problem by submitting relevant parts of their entries to  Wikipedia. Any student who can show that their edits have been successfully maintained for 2 weeks or more will receive extra credit.  Syllabus History of Modern Philosophy | Spring 2019 3 Grading Scale:  A+:  97-100%  A:  93-96%  A-: 90-92% B+:  87-89% B: 83-86% B-: 80-82% C+: 77-79% C: 73-76% C-: 70-72% D+: 67-69% D: 63-66% D-: 60-62% University of Memphis’ Writing and Communication Centre: If you need help with writing for this or any other class please visit the Writing and Communication Centre on the first floor of the Ned R. McWhorter Library: 30 minute walk-ins and 45-minute prescheduled consultations are available Monday  –   Thursday 9:00-5:00 and Friday 9:00-12:00. Undergraduate Philosophy Tutoring Centre:  The Undergraduate Philosophy Tutoring Centre is available for any student who seeks assistance with their work in philosophy. The centre is staffed by experienced undergraduate tutors who can help students with understanding particular readings or topics, writing and revising papers, working logic problems, or conducting philosophical research and formulating ideas. The centre has walk-in hours Monday through Thursday, and students can request appointments for times outside of these hours or on Fridays by emailing Julian Rome at  Walk-in hours: Monday   –   Thursday, 9:00am-4:00pm; Friday, by appointment. Students can also make appointments by visiting and clicking “Schedule an Appointment”.   Course Policies:  A  TTENDANCE :    An attendance sheet will be passed around during each class session. If there is a good reason for an absence (illness; religious holiday; family emergency, etc.) then it will not be counted, but only if you contact me  prior to the class session that you are going to miss.  C LASSROOM E  TIQUETTE :   Students will be expected to be fully present and engaged during class time. Cell phone usage, email, texting, internet browsing, and use of other electronic devices during class prevents students from giving the class session their full attention and is disruptive for the other members of the class. Studies have shown that laptops are a distraction in the classroom, even  when they are just used for note-taking. Recent research on this issue is summarised here: Students are permitted to use their laptop for in-class note taking, but it is strongly discouraged.  A CCESSIBILITY  :    Any student who anticipates physical or academic barriers based on the impact of a disability is encouraged to come and speak with me privately regarding accommodations. Students  with disabilities should also contact Disability Resources for Students in 110 Wilder Tower.  Additional information is available at  Philosophy Department Diversity Statement: In addition to overcoming the divergence between the Continental and analytic traditions, the Department of Philosophy at the University of Memphis seeks to cultivate inclusiveness (notably, in terms of race and gender) in all facets of the Department. Since feminist philosophy and race theory are areas of philosophy where the boundaries separating analytic and continental philosophy are regularly crossed, we have found that our commitments to  Syllabus History of Modern Philosophy | Spring 2019 4 philosophical pluralism and to diversity complement one another. Adopting this kind of inclusive stance in which a plurality of philosophical methodologies and styles are respected and encouraged is the centrepiece of the University of Memphis program. It is evident in the curriculum and in the research and scholarly activities of the faculty. Statement on Academic Integrity:  Academic misconduct including plagiarism and cheating is a serious offence. Students will be expected to comply wit h the University of Memphis’ Academic Integrity and Student Conduct Guidelines, found on the website of the Office of Student Judicial and Ethical Affairs:   Syllabus History of Modern Philosophy | Spring 2019 5 Class Schedule (subject to revisions): Date Topic Reading(s)  Week 1  Jan 15 T Introduction to the course  No Reading  Jan 17 R Descartes’ project 1) Descartes,  Meditations on First Philosophy  , Meditations   1 and 2; 2) Descartes, “Discourse on Method”,  Part I and II  Week 2  Jan 22 T The main ideas of the  Meditations   Descartes,  Meditations on First Philosophy  , Meditations   3, 4 and 5  Jan 24 R Mind-body dualism 1) Descartes,  Meditations on First Philosophy, Meditation 6; 2) Descartes, Passions of the Soul (excerpts)  Week 3  Jan 29 T Problems for Descartes’ dualism  1) Correspondence between Descartes and Elizabeth of Bohemia; 2) Malebranche, The Search After Truth   (Book 6, part II, chapter 3)  Jan 31 R Ethics and politics of Cartesianism 1) Descartes, “ Discourse on Method ”,  Part III; 2) Poullain de la Barre, “On the Equality of the Two Sexes” (Preface; part II)  Week 4 Feb 5 T Against innate ideas; the self as tabula rasa Locke,  An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (Book I)
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