PHIL 2035 - Foundations of Modern Philosophy

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2019

All traditions in western philosophy are shaped by a series of challenges which occupied philosophers from about the seventeenth century. Philosophers in this modern period tried to come to grips with the consequences of an emerging scientific approach for our understanding of the world and our place in it. Ethics, political philosophy, the theory of knowledge, philosophy of language, philosophy of religion, metaphysics and the philosophy of mind would never be the same again. In this course we look at the work of philosophers such as Rene Descartes, Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, John Locke, George Berkeley, Gottfried Leibniz, David Hume and Thomas Reid on these themes, with particular emphasis on tracing connections between their arguments and those of present day philosophers. It turns out that many of our present day conundrums over, for example, the role of experience in gaining knowledge of the world, the fundamental character of physical reality, the nature of the mind and our knowledge of ourselves, were anticipated and discussed by these thinkers.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PHIL 2035
    Course Foundations of Modern Philosophy
    Coordinating Unit Philosophy
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites At least 12 units of Level I undergraduate study
    Incompatible PHIL 2007 or PHIL 3007
    Course Description All traditions in western philosophy are shaped by a series of challenges which occupied philosophers from about the seventeenth century. Philosophers in this modern period tried to come to grips with the consequences of an emerging scientific approach for our understanding of the world and our place in it. Ethics, political philosophy, the theory of knowledge, philosophy of language, philosophy of religion, metaphysics and the philosophy of mind would never be the same again. In this course we look at the work of philosophers such as Rene Descartes, Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, John Locke, George Berkeley, Gottfried Leibniz, David Hume and Thomas Reid on these themes, with particular emphasis on tracing connections between their arguments and those of present day philosophers. It turns out that many of our present day conundrums over, for example, the role of experience in gaining knowledge of the world, the fundamental character of physical reality, the nature of the mind and our knowledge of ourselves, were anticipated and discussed by these thinkers.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Antony Eagle

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1. Demonstrate familiarity with – specifically, to accurately restate and fluently discuss – the content and significance of selected views of at least three of these early modern philosophers: René Descartes, Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, John Locke, George Berkeley, Gottfried Leibniz, Thomas Reid and David Hume
    2. Explain, differentiate, and classify early modern views on at least three of the following philosophical problems in the areas of epistemology, metaphysics and the philosophy of mind: mind-body dualism, external world scepticism, the nature of perceptual knowledge, the role of ideas in thought and knowledge, the nature of causation and necessity, the character of physical reality, and the question of freedom and determinism.
    3. Analyse and interpret written texts (original and translated) from a variety of European cultures in the early modern period in order to clarify their structure and express their main arguments and conclusions.
    4. Examine and evaluate (as valid and/or sound) the arguments and conclusions of early modern philosophers, with some reference to the contemporary significance of those arguments and conclusions.
    5. Prepare, refine, and express extended written arguments concerning the correct interpretation of early modern philosophical texts and the correctness of those texts thus interpreted, following disciplinary norms for the construction of such arguments.
    6. Present and defend oral opinions on philosophical and interpretative questions arising from engagement with early modern philosophical texts.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    1, 2
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    1, 3, 4
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    5, 6
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    1
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources

    There are a number of primary texts we will be looking at. Here are those texts, and my preferred editions. I also provide links to online versions where these are available. Many of our target texts are available, in modified versions intended to make them more accessible for students at www.earlymoderntexts.com.

    • René Descartes (1641), Meditations on First Philosophy, with selections from the objections and replies. Edited and translated by John Cottingham, revised edition 1996, Cambridge University Press, ISBN–13: 9780521558181.
    • David Hume (1748), An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Edited by Tom L Beauchamp, 1999, Oxford University Press. ISBN–13: 9780198752486.
    • Margaret Cavendish (1668), Observations Upon Experimental Philosophy. Edited by Eileen O’Neill, 2001, Cambridge University Press. ISBN–13: 9780521772044.
    • Thomas Reid (1785/1788), Inquiry and Essays. Edited by, 1983, Hackett Publishing. ISBN–13: 9780915145850.
    • Gottfried Leibniz (1686), Discourse on Metaphysics. In Garber and Ariew, eds., 1989, Leibniz: Philosophical Essays, Hackett Publishing. ISBN–13: 9780915145850.
    • Margaret Atherton, ed., (1994), Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period. Hackett Publishing. ISBN–13: 9780872202597.
    Recommended Resources

    Students might the following companion books useful, especially if they are beginning reading some of the texts before semester begins:

    • Hatfield, G. (2003) Descartes and the Meditations. London: Routledge.
    • Noonan, H.W. (1999) Hume on Knowledge. London: Routledge.
    • Bennett, J. (2001) Learning From Six Philosophers (Vols. 1 & 2). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    ​
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The course meets once per week during semester for a 3-hour workshop. This will include a lecture component as well as opportunities for structured and unstructured discussion.
    Workload

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    WORKLOAD (per week)TOTAL HOURS (per semester)
    Structured learning
    1 × 2 hour lecture 24 hours
    1 × 1 hour workshop 12 hours
    TOTAL = 36 hours
    Self-directed learning
    4 hours reading 48 hours
    2 hours research 24 hours
    3 hours assignment preparation 36 hours
    1 hour lecture preparation 12 hours
    TOTAL = 120 + 36 = 156 hours
    Learning Activities Summary
    WeekTopicReading
    1 Introduction/Descartes on scepticism Descartes, Meditations I
    2 Descartes anti-sceptical philosophy; existence of God Descartes, Meditations II–III
    3 Descartes on truth and falsity; existence of God reconsidered Descartes, Meditations IV–V
    4 Descartes and Elizabeth on mind and body
    • Descartes, Meditations VI
    • Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia, extract from Correspondence with Descartes in Atherton (ed.) Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period.
    5 Cavendish: metaphysics
    • Cavendish, Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, pp. 23–42 and 125–31.
    • Cavendish, extract from Philosophical Letters in Atherton (ed.) Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period.
    6 Cavendish: epistemology Cavendish, Observations on Experimental Philosophy, pp. 137–94.
    7 Hume: his project and the nature of ideas Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, §§1-3.
    8 Hume: induction Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, §§4–6.
    9 Hume: freedom and constraint Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, §§7–8.
    10 Hume: scepticism, about miracles and in general Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, §10, §12.
    11 Reid: replies to Hume
    • Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man: Essay 2, chapters 12, 14.
    • Essays on the Active Powers of Man: Essay 4, chapters 1-2
    12 Leibniz: metaphysics, god, and freedom
    • Discourse on Metaphysics: §§8-14, §§29-34.
    • Theodicy: extracts.
    Small Group Discovery Experience

    This course implements SGDE in every teaching session by means of the ‘jigsaw classroom’ technique (https://www.jigsaw.org/). Students will be assigned to 4 or 5 ‘topic groups’ (how many will depend on total enrolment), which determine the topic-prompt questions to which they have access prior to class. In each class period, students will congregate first in larger topic groups to discuss the topic question they answered and clarify opinions on the range of viable answers (15–30 minutes). After a short break, students will disperse into small jigsaw groups each containing 1 student for each topic group to discuss and exchange ideas on all the questions set for that week (30–45 mins). During all stages of group discussion, lecturers will circulate from group to group, offering feedback and intervening in discussion if needed.

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    ASSESSMENT TASKTASK TYPEWEIGHTINGCOURSE LEARNING OUTCOME(S)
    Weekly online quizzes Formative 10% 1, 3, 6
    Essay 1 (500 words) Summative 10% 1–3, 4
    Essay 2 (1500 words) Summative 30% 1–5
    Essay 3 (2500 words) Summative 50% 1–5
    Assessment Detail

    Weekly online quizzes (and associated class and group discussion)
    Students will be required to submit answers to discussion prompts prior to teaching sessions to inform and stimulate small and large group discussion during contact hours. Marks will be credited for participation in online activities rather than for quality of quiz or class discussion performance. (See relevant further details under SGDE below.)

    500 word essay
    Students will be required to write a primarily exegetical essay focusing on a single significant passage from a philosophical text of their choice encountered in weeks 1–3 of the course.

    1500 word essay
    Students will be required to write a short research essay explaining and evaluating the philosophical content and significance of a philosophical text of their choice encountered in the first half of the course.

    2500 word essay
    Students will be required to write a longer research essay explaining and evaluating the philosophical content and significance of a philosophical text of their choice encountered in the second half of the course.

    ​
    Submission

    No information currently available.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.