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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: God, Nature and Knowledge: The History of Philosophy, c. 1600-1700 (PGHC11467)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology 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 seventeenth century saw rapid changes in the ways in which Europeans thought about, and acquired knowledge of, the world around them. New philosophical approaches generated fierce debates among academics and scientists, theologians and politicians. Thus this course introduces students to some central developments in European cultural life.
Course description The course begins by assessing the nature of scholastic thought in early modern Europe, before surveying four overlapping processes of intellectual experimentation. First, it examines the revival of ancient atomistic thought, and the emergence of related mechanical philosophies. Second, the course discusses Descartes' innovative 'first philosophy', and engages with the lively controversies over his works' religious consequences. Third, the course turns to Locke's philosophy of knowledge, its critics and followers. The course concludes with the debates inspired by Newton's natural philosophy, which had considerable impact in the Enlightenment. Students will read extracts from works by thinkers including Descartes, Locke, Spinoza and Newton, and draw on a rich secondary literature to locate these texts in context. There will be a particular focus on Scottish evidence. The course complements other options taught in the School in intellectual history, the history of science and the Scottish Enlightenment.
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
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate command of a substantial body of historical knowledge;
  2. demonstrate the ability to develop and sustain historical arguments in a variety of literary forms, formulating appropriate questions and utilising evidence;
  3. demonstrate an understanding of the varieties of approaches to understanding, constructing, and interpreting the past; and where relevant, knowledge of concepts and theories derived from the humanities and the social sciences;
  4. demonstrate the ability to address historical problems in depth, involving the use of contemporary sources and advanced secondary literature;
  5. demonstrate clarity, fluency, and coherence in written and oral expression.
Reading List
Ariew, Roger, and Alan Gabbey, 'The scholastic background', in Daniel Garber and Michael Ayers (eds.), The Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Philosophy, 2 vols (Cambridge, 1998), I

Carey, Daniel, Locke, Shaftesbury, and Hutcheson: Contesting Diversity in the Enlightenment and Beyond (Cambridge, 2006)

Feingold, Mordechai, 'The mathematical sciences and new philosophies', in Nicholas Tyacke (ed.), The History of the University of Oxford: Volume IV: Seventeenth-Century Oxford (Oxford, 1997)

Garber, Daniel, 'Physics and foundations', in Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park (eds.), The Cambridge History of Science: Volume III: Early Modern Science (Cambridge, 2006)

Gaukroger, Stephen, John Schuster and John Sutton (eds.), Descartes' Natural Philosophy (London, 2000)

Israel, Jonathan I., Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650-1750 (Oxford, 2001)

Peltonen, Markku (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Bacon (Cambridge, 1996)

Popkin, Richard H., The History of Scepticism: From Savonarola to Bayle (Oxford, 2003)

Porter, Roy, and Mikulá¿ Teich (eds.), The Scientific Revolution in National Context (Cambridge, 1992)

Rogers, G.A.J., Tom Sorell and Jill Kraye (eds.), Insiders and Outsiders in Seventeenth-Century Philosophy (Abingdon, 2010)

Schmaltz, Tad M. (ed.), Receptions of Descartes: Cartesianism and Anti-Cartesianism in Early Modern Europe (London, 2005)

Sorell, Tom (ed.), The Rise of Modern Philosophy: the Tension between the New and Traditional Philosophies from Machiavelli to Leibniz (Oxford, 1993)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - ability to draw valid conclusions about the past ability to identify, define and analyse historical problems
- ability to select and apply a variety of critical approaches to problems informed by uneven evidence
- ability to exercise critical judgement in creating new understanding
- ability to extract key elements from complex information readiness and capacity to ask key questions and exercise rational enquiry
- ability critically to assess existing understanding and the limitations of knowledge and recognition of the need regularly to challenge/test knowledge
- ability to search for, evaluate and use information to develop knowledge and understanding
- possession of an informed respect for the principles, methods, standards, values and boundaries of the discipline(s), as well as the capacity to question these
- recognition of the importance of reflecting on one's learning experiences and being aware of one's own particular learning style
- openness to new ideas, methods and ways of thinking
- ability to identify processes and strategies for learning independence as a learner, with readiness to take responsibility for one's own learning, and commitment to continuous reflection, self-evaluation and self-improvement
- ability to make decisions on the basis of rigorous and independent thought
- ability to test, modify and strengthen one's own views through collaboration and debate intellectual curiosity
- ability to sustain intellectual interest
- ability to make effective use of oral, written and visual means convey understanding of historical issues and one's interpretation of them
- ability to marshal argument lucidly and coherently
- ability to collaborate and to relate to others
- readiness to seek and value open feedback to inform genuine self-awareness
- ability to articulate one's skills as identified through self-reflection
- ability to approach historical problems with academic rigour
- ability to manage and meet firm deadlines
- flexible, adaptable and proactive responsiveness to changing surroundings
- possession of the confidence to make decisions based on one's understanding and personal/intellectual autonomy
- ability to transfer knowledge, learning, skills and abilities flexibly from one context to another
- ability to work effectively with others, capitalising on diversities of thinking, experience and skills
- working with, managing, and leading others in ways that value their diversity and equality and that encourage their contribution
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Alasdair Raffe
Tel: (0131 6)51 4269
Course secretaryMrs Lindsay Scott
Tel: (0131 6)50 9948
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