History of Western Philosophy: Modern Period

The aim of this course is to aid the student in understanding the main currents of philosophical thought leading up to the now generally accepted contemporary outlook on reality, knowledge, truth and moral values.  By that we mean the outlook that is assumed by the general character of our secularized public institutions and social life.  

Our discussions range from René Descartes to Friedrich Nietzsche (1600-1900), but most of our time will be spent working through texts from Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, and Nietzsche.  We begin with the attempt to replace the Medieval system of Authority with a method that will allow individuals to arrive at truth about reality, and we conclude with that attempt long abandoned, and replaced with efforts to explain why we represent the world and the self the way we do and why we form the beliefs about them that we actually have.

Resources

USC Course Phil320

The aim of this course is to aid the student in understanding the main currents of philosophical thought leading up to the now generally accepted contemporary outlook on reality, knowledge, truth and moral values.  By that we mean the outlook that is assumed by the general character of our secularized public institutions and social life.  

Our discussions range from René Descartes to Friedrich Nietzsche (1600-1900), but most of our time will be spent working through texts from Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, and Nietzsche.  We begin with the attempt to replace the Medieval system of Authority with a method that will allow individuals to arrive at truth about reality, and we conclude with that attempt long abandoned, and replaced with efforts to explain why we represent the world and the self the way we do and why we form the beliefs about them that we actually have.

REQUIRED TEXTS:

  1. Descartes, René, Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy, translated by Donald Cress, Hackett Publishing Company, 4th edition.
  2. Cahn, Steven M., Classics of Westrern Philosophy, 7th edition, Hackett.
  3. Jones, W. T., A History of Western Philosophy: Hobbes to Hume, 2nd edition, Harcourt Brace Javanovich, 1980.
  4. Jones, W. T., A History of Western Philosophy: Kant and the Nineteenth Century, 2nd edition, revised, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975.
  5. Nietzsche, Friedrich, Beyond Good and Evil, translated by Walter Kaufmann, Vintage Books (Random House), 1989.
  6. Humanist Manifesto I & II, edited by Paul Kurtz, Prometheus Books.
     

Click the "Download" link for the complete 20-page syllabus.

Assets

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