This course will discuss the rise of religious toleration in early modern philosophy. I’ll be presenting draft chapters from a book in progress on that topic, which begins with the medieval case for intolerance (as developed by Augustine and Aquinas), then moves on to the 16th Century, when the case for intolerance came under attack from more liberally minded Christians (Erasmus, Castellio) and skeptics (Montaigne, Jean Bodin). Discussion of those figures will occupy the first seven weeks of the course. The last six weeks will be spent on Locke, Pierre Bayle, and Spinoza. Ultimately I hope to go on to discuss Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Jefferson and Madison… perhaps Paine, also. I won’t be able to get to them during the semester, but will encourage term papers on those figures.
I have e-versions of most of the primary materials I’ll be discussing, and plan to make those available online. I will ask people to buy a couple of books: Bodin’s Colloquium of the Seven about Secrets of the Sublime (a dialogue involving representatives of seven different religious positions – Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, Jewish, Muslim, skeptical and natural-philosophical) and Bayle’s Philosophical Commentary on these words of the Gospel, Luke 14:23, ‘Compel them to come in.’ Both these works have recently become available in paperback.