Immanuel Kant

History of Modern Philosophy

Philosophy 385
Professor William Blattner
last updated: 8/17/12

Fall 2012 syllabus
Schedule of Readings and Assignments

Course Description

This course is a survey of modern philosophy from the 17th through the end of the 18th centuries. We will focus on the development of modern theory of knowledge and normative philosophy. In the course of this survey we will read texts from some of the most influential philosophers of the period, including Descartes, Hobbes, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant.

We shall approach the development of modern philosophy with an emphasis on the theme of enlightenment, as Kant described it:

Enlightenment is man's release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man's inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! "Have courage to use your own reason!" — that is the motto of enlightenment. (Kant, What is Enlightenment?, 1784)

It is characteristic of modern philosophy to understand the subject, agent, or deliberator as the ultimate source of authority for knowledge claims, moral principles, and political institutions. We will pay close attention to the arguments for and implications of this idea.

Course Requirements

This is a four-credit course that meets for one hour, forty minutes twice a week. Students will write three short (5 pp.) papers and take a final exam.

Course Prerequisites

Students must have satisfied the University general education requirements in philosophy in order to enroll in this class. Nominally, one must be a philosophy major to enroll. If there are seats remaining at the end of Add-Drop, I will permit minors and other interested parties (minors get first dibs) to enroll.


The required texts are all Hackett editions, which are affordable and reliable. I have gotten so frustrated with the University Bookstore that I've just decided to post the required reading list on Amazon.com, here: http://amzn.to/i2uOXL.

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