Philosophy 170

Fall 2004

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
170 Descartes McCann TuTh 9:30-11 220 Wheeler

Thebulk of the course will be taken up with a close study of Descartes’s Meditations on First Philosophy, with attention to related passages in the Objections and Replies, the Principles of Philosophy, and others of Descartes’s works. We will focus on the following issues: skepticism and its overcoming; rationalist epistemology and foundationalism; the nature of mental representation (i.e. the theory of ideas); the real distinction between mind and body; the foundations of mathematical/mechanistic science; and the existence and providence of God. There will be a brief survey at the beginning of the course of the relevant background to the Meditations, with short selections from St. Thomas Aquinas and Francis Suarez (the Scholastic background) and from Galileo (the scientific background). The course will end with a brief consideration of the work of one of Descartes’s earliest and most important successors, Nicolas Malebranche, both to trace some of Descartes’s influence and to highlight the distinctiveness of his views.

Course readings:
(1) The Philosophical Writings of Descartes Vol. 1 tr. Cottingham, Stoothoff, and Murdoch Cambridge University Press, 1985 ISBN 052128807X pb. $30.00 (2) The Philosophical Writings of Descartes Vol. 2 tr. Cottingham, Stoothoff, and Murdoch Cambridge University Press, 1985 ISBN 0521288088 pb. $30.00
(3) Nicolas Malebranche: Philosophical Selections ed. Nadler Hackett Publishing Company, 1992 ISBN 087220152X pb $14.95 (4) Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo tr. And ed. Stillman Drake Anchor Books, 1957 ISBN 0385092393 pb $11.95 (5) Short selections from St. Thomas Aquinas’s Questions on the Soul, Francis Suarez’s On the Formal Cause of Substance, and Galileo’s Dialogue concerning the Two Chief World Systems and Dialogues on Two New Sciences, available in a course reader.