PHILOSOPHY 213: HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY(MODERN): WI
Instructor: Dr. Vrinda Dalmiya
Time: MWF 9.30- 10.20
Office Hours: M/F 10.30- 11.30 (and also by appointment)
Office: SAKAMAKI B-303
The "modern" period (roughly 1600 - 1800) in the history of Western philosophy articulates some of the deep assumptions that have shaped Western culture and science and hence, 20th Century life in general. This version of Phil 213 will focus on issues surrounding the nature of knowledge and the threat of ignorance as being one of the persistent preoccupations of the philosophers of that time. The course will look at how key figures like Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant responded to the breakdown of the authority of the Church and the emergence of the ‘scientific method.’ We shall see their struggle to model human knowledge either on careful observation and experiment (as in the empirical sciences) or on reasoning from self-evident truths (as in geometry) and analyze how they attempted to make room for God and human freedom in a naturalistic world. We shall explore how a stand on the
(1) method of knowing, involves assumptions about
(2) nature of the knower - the individual as Mind or/and Body,
(3) nature of the world that is known, and
(4) possibility of there being a realm that is forever unknowable.
Towards the end of the course, we shall look at some contemporary extensions of and reactions to these views in Anglo-American analytic philosophy and the politically informed stance of feminist philosophy.
This is an introduction to Philosophy with no prerequisites. While the aim is to familiarize students with the works of some chosen philosophers, the purpose is not only to understand what they have said but to critically analyze their views and to clarify our own views on the questions they were grappling with. In doing history of Philosophy, we want to do not only "history" but "philosophy" as well!
Expose students to the disciplines of epistemology and metaphysics
Familiarize them with some key figures and concepts in Modern (Western) Philosophy
Introduce them to close readings of philosophical texts.
Enable them to see arguments/reasons in support of a philosophical view
Encourage them to compare and contrast different answers to a philosophical question
Required: Baird and Kaufmann (eds.) Modern Philosophy
Optional: Thompson, Bacon to Kant: An Introduction to Modern Philosophy
1. 2 short REACTION PAPERS (About 5 - 6 pages long): 20 + 20 points
2. 1 CRITICAL ESSAY (6-8 pages): 30 points
3. 1 in-class exam: 30 points
4. Post class notes (for 1 week) on class website: credit / no-credit
Phil 213 is a writing intensive course. Students who do not complete all writing assignments will get a D- or an F and will not earn W Focus credit.
Any student who plagiarizes in this course will receive a failing grade and will be referred to the Dean of Students. So please cite your sources.
If you feel you need reasonable accommodations because of the impact of a disability, please (i) contact the KOKUA Program, or (ii) speak with me privately to discuss your specific needs. I will be happy to work with you and the KOKUA program to meet access needs related to your documented disability.
Though you will not be graded on attendance, presence and participation is crucial for doing well in this course. Please get in touch with me immediately if you find yourself getting lost – it is generally a good idea not to wait till the very last minute to air your problems!
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO RAISE YOUR QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS. IN PHILOSOPHY NO QUESTION IS ‘SILLY.’ THE MORE YOU ENGAGE WITH THE MATERIAL, THE MORE INTERESTING THE COURSE WILL BECOME FOR YOU.