Postgraduate Course: Reason and Experience: Seventeenth Century Philosophy MSc (PHIL11142)
|School||School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||Early modern philosophers are typically identified as either 'rationalist' or 'empiricist' according to their respective views on innate ideas, scepticism, substance, and knowledge of the self. This course interrogates philosophers from both sides of the distinction (Descartes, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley) with respect to these criteria and finds the rationalist/empiricist distinction to varying degrees unhelpful and in some cases deeply distorting of the philosopher's views. Questioning the distinction and the grounds upon which it is based allows for a more nuanced and informative interpretation and critical evaluation of each philosophers' views and arguments to emerge, while it also highlights the closeness of the relationship between the natural sciences and theoretical philosophy, between reason and experience, in the formation of their thought.
The course will be shared with the undergraduate version Reason and Experience: Seventeenth Century Philosophy (PHIL10150)
For courses co-taught with undergraduate students and with no remaining undergraduate spaces left, a maximum of 8 MSc students can join the course. Priority will be given to MSc students who wish to take the course for credit on a first come first served basis after matriculation.
Throughout the twentieth century, early modern philosophers were categorised as belonging exclusively to one of two camps: rationalist or empiricist. This course examines the criteria on which the distinction is based (innate ideas, scepticism, substance, knowledge of the self) and to varying degrees finds them wanting and in some cases deeply distorting. Interrogating early modern philosophers from both sides of the distinction (Descartes, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley) with respect to these criteria allows for a more nuanced and informative interpretation and critical evaluation of each philosophers' views and arguments to emerge, while it also highlights the closeness of the relationship between the natural sciences and theoretical philosophy, between reason and experience, in the formation of their thought.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- demonstrate understanding of the philosophies of Descartes, Leibniz, Locke and Berkeley with particular emphasis on their views on innatism, scepticism, the self, and substance.
- analyze and critically assess the arguments offered by each of these philosophers in defence of their views.
- defend their own views on issues such as innatism, scepticism, etc. against objections.
- appreciate the interrelation between theoretical philosophy and the natural sciences in early modern philosophy.
- critically assess the application of the rationalist-empiricist distinction to early modern philosophers.
|Descartes, The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, tr. & ed. by J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff and D. Murdoch, 2 vols (Cambridge University Press, 1984-85) (online access, EUL)|
Leibniz, Philosophical Essays, tr. & ed. by D. Garber & R. Ariew (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1989). (online access, EUL)
Locke, An Essay concerning Human Understanding, ed. by P. Phemister (Oxford University Press, 2008). (online access to P. H. Nidditch edition, EUL)
Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge / Three Dialogues, ed. by R.S. Woolhouse (Penguin). (online access to Collected Works of Berkeley, EUL)
Indicative bibliography: secondary literature
Loeb, Louis L. (1981). From Descartes to Hume: Continental Metaphysics and the Development of Modern Philosophy (Cornell University Press)
Popkin, R. H. (1964). The History of Scepticism from Erasmus to Spinoza (Van Gorcum)
D. M. Clarke and Wilson, C., eds. (2011). Oxford Handbook of Philosophy in Early Modern Europe (Oxford University Press)
Woolhouse, R. (1988). The Empiricists (Oxford University Press)
Cottingham, J. (1988). The Rationalists (Oxford University Press)
Phemister, P. (2006). The Rationalists: Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz (Oxford: Polity)
Alexander, P. (1985). Ideas, Qualities and Corpuscles: Locke and Boyle on the External World (Cambridge University Press)
Woolhouse, R. S. (1993). Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz: the concept of substance in seventeenth century philosophy (London: Routledge)
Cottingham, John, ed. (1992). Cambridge Companion to Descartes (Cambridge University Press)
Williams, Bernard (1978/2005). Descartes: The Project of Pure Enquiry. Revised edition, edited by John Cottingham (Routledge)
Frankfurt, H.G. (2007) Demons, Dreamers, and Madmen: The Defence of Reason in Descartes's 'Meditations', new ed. (Princeton University Press)
J. Cottingham (2000). Descartes (Wiley-Blackwell)
Rutherford, Don (1995). Leibniz and the Rational Order of Nature (Cambridge University Press)
Arthur, Richard (2014). Leibniz (Oxford: Polity)
Wilson, Catherine (1989). Leibniz's Metaphysics: a Critical and Comparative Study (Manchester University Press.
Jolley, N. (1994). Cambridge Companion to Leibniz (Cambridge University Press)
Newman, L. (2007). Cambridge Companion to Locke's 'Essay Concerning Human Understanding' (Cambridge University Press)
Lowe, E. J. (2005). Locke (London: Routledge)
Jenkins, J. (1983). Understanding Locke (Edinburgh University Press).
Woohouse, R. S. (1983). Locke (Harvester Press)
Fogelin, R. (2001). Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Berkeley and the 'Principles of Human Knowledge (Routledge)
Winkler, K. (2005). Cambridge Companion to Berkeley (Cambridge University Press)
Garrett, A. (2008). Berkeley's 'Three Dialogues: a reader's guide (Continuum)
Richmond, Alasdair (2009). Berkeley's 'Principles of Human Knowledge: a reader's guide (Bloomsbury)
Urmson, J. O. (1982). Berkeley (Oxford University Press)
||Please see Learn page
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||generic analytical and critical thinking skills; working to deadlines; competently using library resources
|Keywords||Rationalism,Empiricism,Seventeenth Century Philosophy
|Course organiser||Prof Pauline Phemister
Tel: (0131 6)51 3747
|Course secretary||Ms Becky Verdon
Tel: (0131 6)51 5002