Philosophy 170

Spring 2006

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
170 Descartes Hoffman MWF 10-11 126 Barrows

This course will focus on a close reading of Descartes’ most important work: his Meditations. We will, however, begin with readings from the earlier Discourse and occasionally draw upon his other works and extensive correspondence. Topics will include skepticism and our knowledge of our self, God and the world, the mind and its relation to the body, the roles of the senses and the intellect, and the relation between Descartes’ scientific and philosophical projects. We will also take up some of the more specific issues for which Descartes’ discussion was to frame later philosophical debates, e.g., perception and the theory of ideas, the distinction between primary and secondary qualities, and the nature of space. Depending upon time and interest, we may close by considering interpretive debates surrounding Descartes among his successor “Cartesians,” especially the vitriolic exchange between Malebranche and Arnauld.

READINGS: Required: Descartes, Philosophical Writings of Descartes, translated by Cottingham, Stoothoff and Murdoch, Vols. 1 & 2 (paperback)

Recommended: Descartes, Philosophical Writings of Descartes, Vol. 3 (paperback)

Previously taught: FL04.