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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Philosophy: Introduction to Early Modern Philosophy (Online High School)

Update: This live course has concluded and is available now as a recorded course through our Unlimited Access! Service. This is a great way to learn at your own pace when your schedule allows. To subscribe or learn more: Middle and High School Catholic Online Classes

Philosophy: Introduction to Early Modern Philosophy
(click on course title to register)

Class dates: Thursdays, September 8 to December 1, 2011 (No class on Thanksgiving)
Total classes: 12
Starting time: 4:00 pm Eastern (3:00 pm Central)
Duration: 1 hour
Instructor: Jean Rioux, Ph.D.
Prerequisite: None
Suggested grade level: 11th to 12th
High school credit: 1 full semester of philosophy
Fee: $190 for all 12 classes.
Course description: The Early Modern period of philosophy has had a profound effect upon contemporary thought and life. Beginning with the intensely reflective musings of French mathematician René Descartes, European philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries saw the possibility and scope of human knowledge as the foremost problem facing us: can we know, and, if so, what? On the Continent, the rationalists saw reason itself as the sole judge of truth. They were opposed in turn by the British empiricists, who insisted that sensation is the fundamental criterion for human knowing. This course presents a review of some of the main figures of the period: among the rationalists, Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, and among the empiricists, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. We will begin with a brief review of the history of philosophy immediately prior to the period, and end with the synthesis of Immanuel Kant and the beginnings of German Idealism.
Course outline:
Class 1: Descartes' Milieu: Ancient and Medieval Philosophy
Classes 2 to 3: René Descartes
Class 4: Baruch Spinoza
Classes 5 to 6: Gottfried von Leibniz
Class 7: John Locke
Classes 8 to 9: George Berkeley
Classes 10 to 11: David Hume
Class 12: Immanuel Kant and Beyond
Course materials: Readings for each session will be made available in the form of a pdf file (Free). Students can expect readings to average 15-25 pages for each session.
Homework: Assignments include close readings of portions of the works of the main philosophers studied. All of the readings are of above-average difficulty. Students should expect to set aside two or three hours each week to carefully prepare for class by reading these materials. Students will also respond to one or two questions following each session in the form of brief written essays, which will be graded by Dr. Rioux.

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