Locke's Essay

Graduate Program (& Advanced Certificate) Status

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Course Description: 

This course will consist in a close reading of selections from Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding, one of the most influential masterpieces of the early modern period. While it is rightly regarded as a seminal work in empiricist epistemology, the Essay also engages in metaphysical debates, particularly those surrounding the mechanistic conception of the physical (and perhaps mental) world. The course aims to conduct a detailed study of Locke’s contribution to these debates and develop an overall interpretation of Locke’s metaphysics. Among the topics to be discussed are primary and secondary qualities, the nature of substance, material constitution, real and nominal essences, power and causation, freedom, identity and the scope and limits of mechanistic explanation.

Learning Outcomes: 

Students should become proficient in close textual analysis and develop the ability to reconstruct philosophical arguments and positions on the basis of such analysis. They should also learn to carry out advanced research according to the current philosophical and scholarly standards in the history of philosophy.



Course requirements and assessment: Regular attendance is required. Participations counts for 10% of the final grade.  The remainder of the grade is determined by written work in the form of a final 2000 word paper (70%) due at the end of the term and a proposal for the paper (20%), due at the end of the 9th week of the term.


Early Modern Philosophy or an equivalent course

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