Fall 2011 - Graduate Course Description
Park, Peter
Discipline and Number
HUHI 6300 Section 501
M Time 7:00 PM - 9:45 PM
Course Title
History of Early Modern Thought

Description of Course:

This course is a graduate-level introduction to some of the major source texts and themes in the history of early modern European natural science, natural theology, and moral and political philosophy. Most of the required texts in this course are works of theory stemming from the early modern period (ca. 1450 to ca. 1800) and are considered pivotal to modern history. This syllabus includes three texts that are not primary sources, but are historical accounts that will get us quickly acquainted with the thought of Renaissance (mainly Italian) philosophers, Francis Bacon, and Robert Boyle (in a controversy with Thomas Hobbes over scientific methods).

Natural philosophy, theology, and political philosophy are separable in name or by abstraction only. Historically, thinking about nature has always carried religious and moral meaning. In the early modern period, changes in scientific knowledge led to great changes in European religious culture and in the conception of human nature and government. Natural philosophers addressed central theological questions. A political philosopher such as Hobbes or Rousseau held a particular view of nature. Francis Bacon, commonly identified as the inventor of the scientific method, was a millenarian visionary. Some theologians recognized the dangers of Descartes' natural philosophy while others saw in it new benefits for Christian religion. In important cases, the theological and moral implications of a natural philosopher’s work overwhelmed its scientific meaning.

Required Texts:

Joe Sachs, ed., Aristotle’s Physics: A Guided Study (Rutgers UP, 2004) ISBN: 9780813521923

Dana Densmore, ed., Euclid's Elements (Santa Fe: Green Lion Press, 2010) [excerpt]

Paul Oskar Kristeller, Renaissance Thought and Its Sources (Columbia UP, 1979) ISBN 9780231045131

Stephen Gaukroger, Francis Bacon and the Transformation of Early-Modern Philosophy (Cambridge UP, 2001) ISBN 0521805368

René Descartes, The World and Other Writings, ed. by Stephen Gaukroger (Cambridge UP, 1998) ISBN 9780521636469

René Descartes, Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy, trans. by Donald A. Cress, 4th ed. (Hackett, 1998) ISBN 0872204200

Benedict de Spinoza, A Spinoza Reader: The Ethics and Other Works, ed. and trans. by Edwin Curley (Princeton UP, 1994) ISBN 0691000670

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan: With Selected Variants from the Latin Edition of 1668 (Hackett, 1994) ISBN-13: 9780872201774

Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life (Princeton UP, 1985) ISBN 0691024324

Samuel Pufendorf, On the Duty of Man and Citizen According to Natural Law (Cambridge UP, 1991) ISBN 9780521359801

John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, ed. by Peter Laslett, 3rd ed. (Cambridge UP, 1988) ISBN 9780521357302

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Basic Political Writings (Hackett, 1987) ISBN 978-0872200470

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

attendance and participation in discussion (25%) and ten 2-page response papers (75%)

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