Spinoza and Leibniz

Course Description: 

This course will consist in a close reading of Spinoza of selected works of Spinoza and Leibniz.   We will focus on metaphysics and epistemology, though at the end of the term we will try to bring these to bear on broadly ethical questions the role of theoretical understanding in living the good life.

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of the course students should have detailed knowledge of the main elements of Spinoza’s and Leibniz’s metaphysics as well as the principal lines of interpretation in the secondary literature. They will also be able to reconstruct and evaluate philosophical texts in accordance with the current standards of scholarly practice. And they will be able to design and execute a research project that demonstrates knowledge of the primary and secondary literature, sensitivity to historical context, and independent philosophical thought.


Attendance and active participation is required and will account for 10% of your final grade. The remainder of your grade will be determined by a 2000 word term paper. You will be asked to submit a draft of the paper by the end of the tenth week of class. You will receive detailed comments on the draft and a provisional grade. There will be presentations of the papers during the last two weeks of the course. Papers should then be revised on the basis of my feedback and feedback received in presentation. Your final paper grade will be based on the provisional grade of the first draft and the grade on the revised version.