History of Modern Philosophy

Offered Spring 2002
Course Code: V83.0021-001
MW11:00-12:15 AM
Room: 101a Main

Instructor: Gary Ostertag
Office: 503-O Main Building
Hours: W12:30 - 1:30 and by appointment

TA: Anne Barnhill
Office: 503 Main Building
Hours: M3-4 and by appointment

Site Contents:

Required Texts

Aquinas, excerpt from The Principles of Nature (handout)
Descartes, Selected Philosophical Writings (Cambridge)
Cavendish, Observations upon Experimental Philosophy (Cambridge)
Malebranche, Philosophical Writings (Hackett)
Leibniz, Philosophical Essays (Hackett)
Berkeley, Three Dialogues and Principles of Human Knowledge (Penguin)
Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (Oxford)
Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics (Cambridge)


Wednesday, Jan. 23rd:

Course structure. Overview of topics to be treated in course.

Monday, Jan. 28th:

The Scholastic Background. Reading: Aquinas, The Principles of Nature

Wednesday, Jan. 30th:

Descartes, “Synopsis” (pp. 73 - 75), “First Meditation”, and “Objections and Replies” (OR), pp. 123 -126.

Monday, Feb. 4th:

Descartes, “Second Meditation”, and OR, pp. 126 - 131.

Wednesday, Feb. 6th:

Descartes, “Third Meditation”, and OR, pp. 131 - 133.

Monday, Feb. 11th:

Descartes, “Fourth Meditation”, and OR, pp. 133 - 135.

Wednesday, Feb. 13th:

Descartes, “Fifth Meditation”, and OR, pp. 135 - 143.

Monday, Feb. 18th:

President's Day; no class

Wednesday, Feb. 20th:

Descartes, “Sixth Meditation”, OR, pp. 143 - 150, and the Correspondence with Elizabeth (handout).

Monday, Feb. 25th:

Cavendish, Observations, Part I, chs. XXXI, XXXV - XXXVI.
First Paper due.

Wednesday, Feb. 27th:

Cavendish, Observations, Part II, ch, 1.

Monday, March 4th -
Wednesday, March 6th:

Malebranche, The Search After Truth, Book Six, Part Two, Chapter Three, in Philosophical Selections, pp. 92 - 98; Dialogues on Metaphysics, Dialogue Seven, in Philosophical Selections, pp. 222 - 238.

Monday, March 11th, -
Wednesday, March 13th:

Spring Break

Monday, March 18th:

Mid-Term exam.

Wednesday, March 20th:

Leibniz, “Primary Truths”, in Philosophical Essays, pp. 30 - 34.

Monday, March 25th -
Monday, April 1st:

Leibniz, Discourse on Metaphysics and Correspondence with Arnauld (selections TBA), in Philosophical Essays, pp. 35 - 68.

Wednesday, April 3rd:

Berkeley, Dialogue I.

Monday, April 8th:

Berkeley, Dialogue II.

Wednesday, April 10th:

Berkeley, Dialogue III.

Monday, April 15th -
Wednesday, April 24th:

Hume, Enquiry (selections TBA)

Monday, April 29th -
Monday, May 6th:

Kant, Prolegomena (selections TBA)

Course Description

The course provides an introduction to centeral themes in Modern Philosophy, focusing on the writings of Descartes, Malebranche, Cavendish, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume and Kant.


Evaluation will be based upon two or three short papers; mid-term and final examinations; and occasional short quizzes


Any work that is submitted as your own but written in whole or in part by someone else counts as plagiarism. Plagiarism results in an F for the course and is subject to further disciplanary action.

Bobst Reference Resources

Craig, Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Routledge)

Blackburn, Oxford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Oxford University Press)

Audi, Cambridge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Cambridge University Press)

Wilson, Keil, The MIT Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science (MIT Press)

On-Line Resources

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The MIT Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science (MIT Press)

The Works of George Berkeley

The Hume Archives