Learning objectives: The main aim of the course is to acquire knowledge of the central issues and arguments of the early modern period. Topics will include knowledge and skepticism, the nature of substance, the relation of mind and body, the scope and limits of scientific explanation, personal identity, and freedom and necessity.
Learning activities/teaching methods: Students will submit questions based on the reading before class. Class time will be divided between a short lecture on the main points of the material followed by discussion.
Readings: Most readings will be selected from the main texts Descartes, Spinoza, Locke and Leibniz. We will also read selections from early modern women philosophers.
By the end of the course students will be able to read historical texts and interpret and evaluate their philosophical content. This involves carefully reconstructing the arguments in the texts and assessing their cogency and persuasiveness.
Attendance and submission of questions on the reading is mandatory. Written work will consist of short writing assignments and a final essay exam.