Course level: Undergraduate
Spring 2018 - Fall 2021
University of Notre Dame
The 17th and 18th centuries brought about not only revolutionary changes in science, society, religion, and politics, but also crucial intellectual developments in philosophy. The so-called “modern philosophers” were deeply engaged in developing new approaches to understanding the relationships between God, nature and human beings. These philosophers decisively shaped the debates of intellectuals, scientists, and political and religious leaders in their own time and ever since. In this course, we will explore the central themes of modern philosophy, including issues such as: the nature of the human mind and its relationship to the body; conceptions of the self and of human rationality; the nature and knowledge of God; scepticism and knowledge of the external world; the nature of causation; the possibility of human freedom and its role for morality, religion, and politics; explanations of evil and human suffering. We will pay particular attention to the way in which the problems, methods, and proposed solutions that were central for the modern philosophers still inform our debates in philosophy (and beyond) today. Readings will be drawn mainly from Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant.
This class is a requirement for the major in philosophy.