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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Philosophy

Postgraduate Course: The Rationalists: Spinoza and Leibniz MSc (PHIL11075)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course will introduce students to the philosophical systems of the gigantic figures in the history of philosophy, Spinoza and Leibniz. It will demonstrate how, while responding critically to but still working within the framework of Cartesian dualism, Spinoza and Leibniz respectively transformed the Cartesian philosophy in two radically different directions, resulting in (i) Spinoza's absolute monism and, in critical response also to Spinoza, (ii) the dynamic, pluralist philosophical system of Leibniz. This course will compare and contrast these systems of philosophy and subject them to critical evaluation.

Shared with undergraduate course PHIL10086 The Rationalists: Spinoza and Leibniz

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.
Course description The course will introduce students to the philosophical systems of the gigantic figures in the history of philosophy, Spinoza and Leibniz. It will explore's absolute monism and, in critical response also to Spinoza, (ii) the dynamic, pluralist philosophical system of Leibniz.

Common to Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz is the aim to construct a rational and internally consistent theory in which metaphysics provides foundational grounding to natural scientific empirical observations and ethical practice. Critical engagement with the works of Spinoza and Leibniz will allow us to assess the degrees to which they succeeded in this quest, examining how, for instance, the metaphysical monism of Spinoza leads to a necessitarianism that poses difficulties for individual ethical agency and freedom and how Leibniz sought through his metaphysical pluralism to overcome these problems.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  8
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One 3000 word essay (100%)
Word Limit: 3000 words maximum (excluding references)
Feedback Students have the opportunity to submit a formative essay by week 6 deadline on Turnitin via Learn. The essay cannot be draft of summative essay but it can be on the same topic.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. understand the systematic philosophies of Spinoza and Leibniz and of the ways in which the elements of their respective systems combine to form an integrated whole.
  2. analyze and critically assess the arguments Spinoza and Leibniz used to support their philosophical views.
  3. construct their own arguments for and against the positions Spinoza and Leibniz advanced.
  4. understand the philosophical reasons that lead on the one hand to Spinozistic monism and, on the other, to Leibnizian pluralism.
Reading List
Indicative Bibliography: Core Texts:

Spinoza, The Ethics Leibniz, The Principles of Philosophy, or Monadology; Discourse on Metaphysics and Correspondence with Arnauld; New System of the nature and communication of Substances; Principles of Nature and of Grace, and various other short pieces.

Indicative Bibliography: Secondary Texts:
B. Lord, Spinoza's 'Ethics'
S. Hampshire, Spinoza and Spinozism
S. Nadler, Spinoza's 'Ethics': an introduction
R. Popkin, Spinoza
D. Garrett, Cambridge Companion to Spinoza
G. H. R. Parkinson, Spinoza's Theory of Knowledge
M. Della Rocca, Spinoza
Y. Melamed, Spinoza's Metaphysics: substance and thought
V. Viljanen, Spinoza's Geometry of Power

R.T. Arthur, Leibniz
A. Savile, The Routledge Guide to Leibniz
R.M. Adams, Leibniz: Determinist, Theist, Idealist
D. Garber, Leibniz: Body, Substance, Monad
P. Phemister, Leibniz and the Natural World
N. Jolley, The Cambridge Companion to Leibniz
D. Rutherford, Leibniz and the Rational Order of Nature
C. Wilson, Leibniz's Metaphysics
B. Look, The Continuum Companion to Leibniz

J. Cottingham, The Rationalists
P. Phemister, The Rationalists: Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills generic analytical and critical thinking skills; working to deadlines; competently using library resources
Course organiserProf Pauline Phemister
Tel: (0131 6)51 3747
Course secretaryMs Becky Verdon
Tel: (0131 6)50 3860
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