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Thursday, August 11, 2011

FAQ: Philosphy

     We've been getting a few questions about the level of difficulty in the upcoming philosophy course: Introduction to Modern Philosophy

     While this class is not for the faint-hearted, it's not something only intellectual Amazons can handle. Among the many things Dr. Rious does very well, making the moderns understandable is right up there. I find it hard to wrap my brain around some of the ideas and principles the moderns hold, especially because I am such a concrete thinker. However, the moderns have such a huge impact on the world we live in today that it is imperative we better understand them. Especially, where and why they went so wrong. This way we can avoid making similar mistakes and help others to recognize error when they encounter it.

From Dr. Rioux on why this course is designed for 11th and 12th grade:
     I intentionally placed the level of instruction for this course at the junior and senior high-school level. In my experience, students who have studied some ancient and medieval philosophy react to the moderns in a similar way: they cannot believe someone would actually hold these things! 
     For example, George Berkeley denies the existence of the material world, and René Descartes' standard for human knowledge appears impossibly rigorous. There is often a feeling of being "at sea" and, in many cases, of deciding that these authors, with their outlandish views, need not be taken seriously, which would be a great mistake for students preparing to begin college life, where they will encounter the profound influences these thinkers have had firsthand. 
     That's why students need to be more intellectually mature when approaching them. In addition, the readings I have set out are longer and more difficult than in any other course I've taught through Homeschool Connections: we'll be reading about 200 pages of fairly difficult material over the course of twelve classes. (Note also that the course schedule on the Homeschool Connections site has been changed slightly: we'll be spending two courses on Descartes, one on Spinoza, two on Leibniz, two each on Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, and one on Kant.)
Jean W. Rioux, Ph.D.
Professor and Philosophy Department Chair
Benedictine College
1020 North Second Street
Atchison, KS 66002

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