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1 Course Description and Objectives: Philosophy 4120: History of Modern Philosophy Fall 2011 Meeting time and location: MWF 11:50 AM-12:40 PM MEB 2325 Instructor: Anya Plutynski Office Hours: W after class or by appointment Office location: CTIHB 421 In this course we will read and interpret the works of major philosophers across the spectrum of modern philosophy, including writings by Descartes, Hume, and Kant. The emphasis will be on metaphysics and theories of knowledge. The metaphysical questions posed by these authors partly concern the fundamental nature of reality; these were questions about the existence of attributes of mind, matter, and God. Other questions concerned the characteristics and limitations of the human intellect and freedom of the will. The aim of this course is not to provide a survey of philosophical activity from Descartes to Kant, but rather to focus upon selected writings appropriate to the above themes. This will allow students to go beyond reading about the work of major philosophers, to the analysis and interpretation of the works themselves. Brief schedule: Week 1-5: Introduction, Descartes Week 6-11: Hume: naturalism, problem of induction; Berkeley, Idealism Weeks 12-end: Kant: transcendental idealism, empirical realism Required Book: (Available at bookstore and on reserve at Marriott Library) Descartes, Meditiations on First Philosophy (with selections from Objections and Replies), ed. Cottingham, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy, 2 nd ed. Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, ed. Steinberg, 2 nd Ed. Hackett Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, with selections from the Critique of Pure Reason, revised edition, ed. By Hatfield, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy Recommended Books: (Available at bookstore or on reserve at Marriott Library) Hatfield, Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Descartes and the Meditations; Guyer, Kant: Routledge Guide Evaluation: Attendance and participation are expected. There will be two midterms, and a final exam, all in class, with short answer and essay questions. In addition, I will give 10 quizzes at random throughout the semester, during the first ten minutes of class. There will be no make-ups or extra credit assignments. - 10% Attendance and participation - 20% First Midterm - 25% Second Midterm 1

2 Exams - 10% Quizzes - 25% Final exam All exams are in class; with the very rare exception of serious illness, there will be no make-up exams. Please bring a blue book and a pen or dark pencil to class on the following days: Monday October 10, Friday November 11, and on the exam date/time scheduled by the University Tuesday, December 13, :30 am 12:30 pm. Important Dates: Fall break: Mon.-Sat, Oct Thanksgiving break: Thurs.-Fri., Nov Holiday recess: Sat Dec 17-Sun Jan 8 NO CLASS: ANYA AWAY AT A CONFERENCE: September 23 MONDAY SEPT. 5: LABOR DAY OCTOBER 7: visit to Marriott Library Special Collections to view early editions of Galileo Descartes, Hume, Newton, and Berkeley Grades available: Tuesday, Dec. 28 Guide to Reading: The following outlines your reading week by week. Please note; it is possible that we will fall behind with the reading schedule. Week 1: August Introduction, course description, course requirements; Ancient and Medieval Background to Descartes Conceptions of Philosophy; history of philosophy, focus of the course: metaphysics and epistemology: mind, matter, God, nature and freedom Required reading: Descartes: Meditations I and Synopsis, Objections and Replies, Med.I Recommended reading: Hatfield, Chapt. 1-3 Descartes initiated modern philosophy in an attempt to begin anew, sweeping away previous opinion. He adopted this radical strategy because he believed that his contemporaries subscribed to a defective system of philosophy, based on the teachings of Aristotle. The Aristotelian philosophy provided a comprehensive theory of nature. We will examine in outline this system of belief, against which Descartes arguments were mainly directed. The Method of Radical Doubt What does Descartes call into doubt in Med. 1? What are his arguments for doubting? Why is he engaged in doubt? According to Descartes, what pragmatic consequences should the doubt have? Week 2: August 29-September 2 2

3 From Doubt to Knowledge Meditations, II, Objections and Replies, Med. II Recommended Reading: Princ. Part I, Hatfield, Chapt. 4 How does Descartes resolve the doubt? Does the recognition that I exist is true whenever one thinks it give him the Archimedian point wished for? What does Descartes claim to establish about the I in Med. 2? Does he argue that it is a substance distinct from the body? How does the wax argument help to establish the conclusion that mind is better known than body? MONDAY SEPT. 5: LABOR DAY Week 3: Sept. 7-9 The Criterion of Truth; the Circle Meditations III, Objections and Replies, Against Meditation III Recommended Reading: Hatfield, Chapt. 5 What does Descartes think is the ultimate mark of certainty and truth? Is this mark subject to doubt? How does he validate this criterion? What is problematic about this validation? God s Existence Meditations III, continued Recommended: Hatfield, Chapt. 5 How does Descartes prove the existence of God? What kind of proof is it? Week 4: Sept Error and Freedom Meditations IV Recommended Reading: Hatfield, Chapter 6 What is Descartes explanation for the possibility of human error? In what sense are human beings free? In what sense are we utterly compelled, in his view? Matter, God and the Circle Again 3

4 Required reading: Meditations V Recommended Reading: Hatfield, Chapt. 7 What is the basis for the proof of God in Med. 5? According to Descartes, how is the predicate existence differently related to the concepts of God and the concepts of other things? What precisely is Descartes argument for the distinction between mind and body? Week 5: Sept Mind-Body Unity; Error, Dreaming, Legacy Meditations VI Recommended: Hatfield, Chapt 8 Descartes argues for mind-body unity. What is the basis for this claim? In Descartes new metaphysics, what is the role of the senses? How does Descartes explain the possibility of sensory error? SEPT 23: NO CLASS ANYA OUT OF TOWN Week 6: Sept Metaphysics and Physics: Establishing the New Science Recommended: Descartes, Principles, selections from Parts II, IV (on WebCT) Shapin, The Scientific Revolution, Chapter 1 (on Reserve at Marriott) Newton, General Scholium and Querry 31 from the Principia (on reserve, at Marriott, in Ariew and Watkins, pp ) Fontanelle, Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds, Day 5 (on reserve at Marriott) Descartes confided to Mersenne that the Meditations contains all the principles of my physics. What is the new science and what is the relationship between Descartes metaphysics and his physics? Berkeley s Idealism Berkeley, Principles, Part 1, Articles 1-33, (on reserve at Marriott) What is Berkeley s argument for the claim that the existence of an idea consists in its being perceived? Consider especially, Part I, Sections What is motivating Berkeley, and what is Berkeley s objection to Newtonian metaphysics, or more precisely, the idea of matter? Week 7: Oct. 3-7 Hume s aims: the science of human nature 4

5 Hume, Enquiry, sec. 1-3 What does Hume see as the role of true metaphysics? On what is it based? How does it relate to the science of human nature? What is the distinction between impressions and ideas? How could Hume justify this distinction? What is Hume s criterion for a meaningful use of a term? Oct 10-15: Fall Break Week 8: Oct Knowledge and its justification; the basis of belief Enquiry, sec. 4-6 How are relations of ideas known? How are matters of fact known? Does knowledge of relations of ideas ever, in itself, give us knowledge of matters of fact? Examine closely Hume s arguments regarding knowledge of matters of fact. What is Hume s reply to the skeptical problem (Sec. 5)? Week 9: Oct Ideas of necessary connection and causation Enquiry, sec. 7 If one claims to have the idea of a necessary connection between cause and effect, one should be able, Hume contends, to discover an impression from which the idea derives. What is Hume s argument that this impression does not derive from our sensory apprehension of objects? Freedom and Necessity Enquiry, sec. 8 How does Hume reconcile liberty and necessity? How does this reconciliation differ from Descartes? Week 10: Oct. 31-Nov. 4 Hume s naturalistic account of belief Enquiry, sec What is Hume s point in comparing human belief-formation to that of, as he puts it, other animals? To what extent are the rules of evidence presented in Hume s discussion of miracles consistent with his earlier account of the formation of belief? Week 11: Nov

6 Hume s Skeptical, Anti-metaphysical naturalism Enquiry, sec What is Hume skeptical about? What is Hume not skeptical about? Does his skepticism raise problems for his account of the laws of association and for his appeal to the power of custom or habit? Week 12: Nov Kant s aims; Key Distinctions Kant, Prolegomena, preface, preamble, general questions, and Critique, Intro Recommended: Guyer, Kant (Routledge Guide) Chapters 1-3 Note that Kant in the preface draws our attention to the problem that has been raised by Hume: that of determining the limits of human knowledge. He raises this problem by asking whether metaphysics, a putative part of human knowledge, is even possible. His strategy for answering this question is to ask how other paradigmatic examples of human knowledge mathematics and natural science are possible, and then to see whether, if how, the same grounds for possibility are available to metaphysics. Be sure to pay attention to key distinctions between analytic and synthetic judgments, a priori and a posteriori cognition. What is especially distinctive about synthetic a priori judgments? How is pure mathematics possible? Prolegomena, first part, Critique, Aesthetic, Method Why does Kant regard geometry as synthetic? Why a priori? What does Kant mean by construction in intuition? What is the role of spatially extended figures in geometrical proof, according to Kant? Week 13: Nov Geometry, Space, and Idealism Prolegomena, First part, secs , and Notes, I-III, Appendix, Critique, B Preface, B vii-xxiv From his account of the possibility of geometric cognition, Kant concludes that everything which our senses may be given (the outer in space, the inner in time) is only intuited by us as it appears to us, not as it is in itself, and, all bodies together with the space in which they are found must be taken for nothing but mere representations in us, and exist nowhere than merely in our thoughts. On what basis does he make these claims? As he himself asks, do they not constitute manifest idealism? What implications do they have for the boundaries of human knowledge? THANKSGIVING: NOV

7 Week 14: Nov. 28-Dec. 2 Objective judgments regarding nature Prolegomena, Second part, Secs ; Critique, on judgment. Why should one believe that a body of synthetic a priori cognition is contained in natural science, or stands as a condition of the possibility of the natural science we have? What is Kant getting at in distinguishing between judgments of perception and judgments of experience? How does this relate to what he says in the Critique on the idea of a transcendental deduction and the distinction between questions of fact and questions of right? Removing Hume s Doubt Prolegomena, Second Part, secs , Interred. To Dedication What is Kant s construal of Hume s Doubt? How does he purport to remove it? Would you say that he makes a direct response to Hume? Week 15: Dec. 5-9 Transcendental illusion, Psychological ideas, 1st two cosmological ideas Prolegomena, Third part, secs , First Antinomy What is the difference between pure concepts of reason and pure concepts of nature? Compare what Kant says about the perception of the self with what Descartes and Hume have said. Do you accept Kant s conclusion regarding the absolute self? Week 16: Dec. 12 Second of two cosmological ideas; the bounds of pure reason Prolegomena, 3rd part, secs ; conclusion, solution, appendix; Critique, B preface. Is human freedom compatible with a determinist view of nature? How does Kant try to reconcile them? What are the bounds of pure reason? To what extent does this notion of a boundary imply a place for things in themselves? What role is assigned to transcendental ideas? Do you accept this role, and if not, how would you reformulate it? Course Policies Faculty and Student Responsibilities All students are expected to maintain professional behavior in the classroom setting, according to the Student Code, spelled out in the Student Handbook. The Code specifies proscribed conduct (Article XI) that includes cheating on tests, plagiarism, and/or collusion, as well as fraud, theft, etc. Students should read the Code carefully and know they are responsible for the content. 7

8 Academic Misconduct Academic misconduct, which includes plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty, will not be tolerated in this course. If caught plagiarizing, a student will receive a failing grade for the course and be reported to the University administration for possible further sanction. Students are responsible for knowing and understanding the University's policy on academic misconduct. More information is in the Student Code, available at Assistance with writing or researching Tutoring is available through the ASUU Tutoring Center in the Student Services Building, Room 330. Students may schedule a day, evening or weekend appointment. Students who qualify for a Pell Grant may also qualify for free tutoring. For more information call or go to /. Writing Center located at the Marriott Library. More information can be found by going to (ADA) Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 The University of Utah seeks to provide equal access to its programs, services and activities for people with disabilities. If you will need accommodations in the class, reasonable prior notice needs to be given to the Center for Disability Services, 162 Olpin Union Building, (V/TDD). CDS will work with you and the instructor to make arrangements for accommodations. All written information in this course can be made available in alternative format with prior notification to the Center for Disability Services. For more information go to Accommodations policy All of the course content has been chosen in order to achieve the pedagogical objectives of this course. Some of the writings, lectures, or presentations in this course may include material that conflicts with the core beliefs of some students. Please review the syllabus carefully to see if the course is one that you are committed to taking. I will not make content accommodations in this course. 8

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