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This subject focuses on a careful study of one or more major works in the history of 17th and 18th century Continental European or British philosophy, such as Spinoza’s Ethics, Locke’s Essay concerning Human Understanding, Leibniz’s New Essays on Human Understanding, Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature, Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.
Many of these texts aim to develop a systematic philosophical theory of the mind, the world, human understanding and/or the limitations of human understanding, human actions and passions. Through a close study of these texts we will be studying influential 17th and/or 18th century approaches to philosophy of mind, metaphysics, epistemology, moral psychology and/or ethics.
Our approach will be both philosophical and interpretive: our chief aim will be to understand the philosophical motivations the thinker(s) had, and to assess them. We will draw attention to responses by other 17th and 18th century philosophers and use comparisons to present-day philosophy wherever helpful.
Intended learning outcomes
Students who successfully complete this subject will:
- reflect critically upon early modern philosophy and influential 17th and/or 18th century approaches to philosophy of mind, metaphysics, epistemology, moral psychology and/or ethics;
- identify and analyze philosophical arguments in historical texts;
- interpret philosophical texts that were written in the 17th and/or 18th century, show awareness of different possible interpretations and learn to assess the strengths and weaknesses of different interpretations;
- write well-structured and well-argued research essays that explain and critically assess the relevant philosophical views and critically position their own interpretation in relation to other interpretations in the literature;
- articulate own responses to philosophical views, support them by reasons, and defend them in light of criticism.
Last updated: 6 December 2019