Descartes’ Meditations is one of the most significant texts in Western thought. It marks the beginning of a focus on the natural sciences as the paradigm for knowledge and certainty. It incorporates conceptualizations of God, human nature, knowledge and reality that continue to influence contemporary thought. This unit begins with a detailed critical reading of the Meditations. It then examines excerpts from major texts by other significant philosophers of the period, who may include Hobbes, Spinoza, Cudworth, More, Locke, Newton, Clarke, Hume and Kant. The unit focuses on themes such as the relation of body and soul, the question of certain knowledge and the relationship between scientific, theological and common-sense world views. In addition, attention is given to the dispute between those philosophers engaged in sceptical or atheistic attacks on religion, and those philosophers engaged with defending religion made by other early modern philosophers. (This unit may be offered in intensive mode.)
Sketch the progression of the arguments in Descartes’ Meditations.
Explain the primary/secondary qualities distinction as it appears through the thinkers studied in the unit.
Narrate an understanding of the relationship between the defences of a theistic worldview made by e.g. Cambridge Platonists, Locke and Clarke, and the critiques of those defences made by ‘atheistic’ thinkers presented in the unit: e.g. Hobbes, Spinoza, Hume.
Elaborate the motivations for, and structure of Kant’s transcendental idealism.
36 points of philosophy at first level
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2-hour written examination
Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 21 Jul, 2020
Unit record last updated: 2020-07-22 09:24:40 +1000