Philosophy 25B

Spring 2011

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
25B Modern Philosophy Stroud TuTh 11-12:30 100 lewis

An introduction to the history of modern philosophy through the problems and ideas of some of the most important philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The course will focus on close reading and discussion of some of the major works of René Descartes, John Locke, George Berkeley, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant. Two lecture-discussion meetings and one discussion-section with a Graduate Student Instructor each week. Several short papers during the semester and a final examination. Written work will be assessed on the basis of its clarity, accuracy, and level of understanding of the philosophical issues in question.

Problems to be investigated, as they appear in the work of the different philosophers, include: What do we perceive, and how does it enable us to think and know things about the world? What can we know of our own existence and nature? How is the mind related to the body? Do objects in the world really have colors, tastes, and smells, or do we only think so because of their effects on us? Can we know that at least in general the world really is the way we believe it to be? Can we have reason to believe things about what we have not so far experienced? What is the difference between two things’ being connected as cause and effect and a mere coincidence, and how can we tell which is which? Must we think some things are causally connected with others in order to think about an independent world at all? Can we know some such things by thought alone, without dependence on sense-perception? If so, what things, and how? Is there a distinctive way in which philosophy asks and answers questions like these?