Renaissance And Early Modern Philosophy

Dr. Harry P. Reeder


I. Objectives: The period known as renaissance and early modern philosophy is one of the most interesting and exciting periods in the history of Western philosophy. In face a large part of how we currently view the world and ourselves is a direct result of philosophers of this period. In addition, there is now a good deal of "post-modern" thinking taking place that is rejecting many of the views developed during this period. Unfortunately, much of this "post-modern" thought misunderstands the many true insights developed in modern philosophy. Therefore this course aims at providing the student with a firm grounding in this important series of philosophical developments, and how they continue to affect out thinking today. Thinkers to be discussed include Galileo, Newton, Bacon, Hobbes, the continental rationalists, the British empiricists, and Immanuel Kant.

II. Format: The format will be lecture-discussion. Attendance of every class is a minimal requirement, as the material to be covered in the readings will be augmented by the lectures. Class participation, in the form of asking and answering questions, is a must for a course of this nature, as the instructor needs to know what problems the students are having with the material in order to be more helpful. In general it is true that the more a student participates in class discussions, the better the student understands the material (which is usually reflected in better grades). Because of the nature of philosophy, it is essential for students to attend every class, and to come prepared to discuss the assigned readings; if you must miss a class it is your responsibility to get notes from someone else. It is essential for students to TAKE NOTES in class (pen and paper!); I have noticed an alarming trend of students failing to take notes, and it has adversely affected their grades. Philosophy is not a spectator sport!

III. Text: The following text will be available from the bookstore:
Roger Ariew and Eric Watkins, eds., Modern Philosophy: An Anthology of Primary Sources

IV. Assignments: The student's mark will be determined on the basis of two 5-7 page essays, and one 10-12 page term paper. (See tentative course calendar for due dates; graduate assignments differ in length.) The papers will be weighted as follows: short essays 25% each, term paper 50%.
READING ASSIGNMENTS are due at the start of each week (see Tentative Calendar, below).
LATE ASSIGNMENTS will not be accepted, except in extraordinary (and documented) circumstances.

V. Attendance and Drop Policy: Attendance of EVERY class is a minimum requirement of this course. The work done in class in mostly NOT repeated in the text. Each student is responsible for getting notes and announcements from class that he/she has missed. The instructor cannot drop students from the class. To drop, a student must fill out a drop slip (and then in accordance with university rules).

VI. Academic Dishonesty: It is the philosophy of the University of Texas at Arlington that academic dishonesty is a completely unacceptable mode of conduct and will not be tolerated in any form. All persons involved in academic dishonesty will be disciplined in accordance with University regulations and procedures. Discipline may include suspension or expulsion from the University.

"Scholastic dishonesty includes but is not limited to cheating, plagiarism, collusion, the submission for credit of any work or materials that are attributable in whole or in part to another person, any act designed to give unfair advantage to a student or to the attempt to commit such acts." (Regents' Rules and Regulations, Part One, Chapter VI, Section 3.2, Subdivision 3.22)

VII. Americans With Disabilities Act: The University of Texas at Arlington is on record as being committed to both the spirit and letter of federal equal opportunity legislation; reference Public Law 9311—The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended. With the passage of new federal legislation entitled Americans with Disabilities Act—(ADA), pursuant to section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, there is a renewed focus on providing this population with the same opportunities enjoyed by all citizens.

As a faculty member, In am required by law to provide "reasonable accommodation" to students with disabilities, so as not to discriminate on the basis of that disability. Student responsibility primarily rests with informing faculty at the beginning of the semester and in providing authorized documentation through designated administrative channels.

VIII. Aid for Students: The University of Texas at Arlington supports a variety of student success programs to help you connect with the University and achieve academic success. They include learning assistance, developmental education, advising and mentoring, admission and transition, and federally funded programs. Students requiring assistance academically, personally, or socially should contact the Office of Student Success Programs at 817-272-6107 for more information and appropriate referrals.

IX. Tentative Course Calendar:
Week
Reading Assignment
Written Assignment
1 General Introduction, Bacon, Galileo
2 Descartes, Discourse On Method, Meditations I-III
3 Descartes, Meditations IV-VI
4 Hobbes
5 Spinoza, Ethics Part I Essay 1
6 Leibniz, Discourse on Metaphysics
7 Leibniz, Monadology
8 Newton, Boyle, Locke
9 Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge Essay 2
10 Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, pp. 491-522
11 Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, pp. 522-557
12 Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics §§1-20
13 Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics §§21-38
14 Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics §§39-end
15 Review Term paper

Back to the top

Go back to Professor Reeder's Home Page

Go to Philosophy and Humanities Web Page