PHIL 610 - Seminar in History of Philosophy
Section: 001 Hume
Term: WN 2012
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
Advisory Prerequisites:
Graduate standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This seminar will be devoted to a forced march through Hume's epistemology and metaphysics, principally as developed in A Treatise of Human Nature (Book I, Parts i, iii, and iv). Be prepared to digest a good deal of primary and secondary source reading in a compressed period of time.

We will attempt to accomplish the following:
  1. Take on board, albeit highly selectively, relevant background in Descartes, Malebranche, Newton, Locke, and Berkeley.
  2. Canvass the main philosophical chestnuts associated with Hume: Hume's theories of belief, induction, causation/necessary connection, body/the external world, the mind, and personal identity. (Here the focus will be on Hume's position, not the issues as they stand in current debates. I will suggest background reading for those coming into these issues cold.)
  3. Examine sections of the Treatise crucial to understanding Hume's intentions, but that typically receive short shrift in favor of the topics at (2), e.g., Treatise I.iii.9-13, I.iii.15-16, and I.iv.3-5.
  4. Consider the interrelations among various strands in Hume's thought: his semantic and epistemological empiricism, his commitment to "the way of ideas," his associationism, his projectionism, his naturalism, his realism, and his skepticism. How do these strands fit together, or do they?
  5. Against this background, address competing large-scale interpretations in the secondary literature (e.g., Kemp Smith and Stroud, Fogelin, Garrett, Loeb, Schmitt, Baier and Korsgaard, and M. Williams).

What else? Time permitting, we might devote the final two weeks to one of the following: an excursion into Hume's moral theory; Hume's philosophy of religion; the relation of the Treatise to An Enquiry concerning the Human Understanding; or Hume and Reid. But it is an open question whether time will permit.

Course Requirements:

Those enrolled may select from three requirement "tracks," as best suits their inidivudal needs:

  • either three 7-10 page papers on distinct topics;
  • two 7-10 page papers on distinct topics and a 10-15 page revision and expanstion of one of the shorter papers;
  • a 15-25 page term paper.
Seminar presentations along the way? To be determined.

Intended Audience:

For philosophy graduate students, satisfactory completion of this course satisfies a history of modern philosophy distribution requirement. Graduate students in other discliplines are urged to consult with the instructor before registraring for the seminar. (Extensive undergraduate experience in philosophy is highly recommended; this is not a course in intellectual history.)

Class Format:

3 hrs of seminar per week

PHIL 610 - Seminar in History of Philosophy
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
4Graduate Standing
Tu 6:00PM - 8:30PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

Before purchasing any books for this seminar, please consult the Course CTools site and review the document about books for purchase. This provides information about editions of the *Treatise* and first *Inquiry*, together with information about the extent to which we will consult various primary sources.
ISBN: 0198245882
A Treatise of Human Nature, Analytical Index by L.A. Selby-Bigge, second edition with text revised and notes by P. H. Nidditch, Author: David Hume, Publisher: Oxford SECOND 1978
ISBN: 019824536X
Enquiries concerning human understanding and concerning the principles of morals, Author: by David Hume. Ed. with introd., comparative table of contents, and analytical index by L. A. Selby-Bigge. With text revised and notes by Peter H. Nidditch., Publisher: Clarendon Press 3. ed., 15 1998
ISBN: 0199538328
Dialogues concerning natural religion ; and, The natural history of religion, Author: David Hume / edited by J.C.A. Gaskin., Publisher: Oxford University Press Reissued. 2008
ISBN: 0198245955
An Essay concerning Human Understanding. Edithed with an Introduction by Peter H. Nidditch, Author: John Locke, Publisher: Clarendon Press or OUP USA 1979
ISBN: 0199555176
Principles of human knowledge and Three dialogues, Author: George Berkeley, edited with an introduction by Howard Robinson., Publisher: Oxford University Press 2009
ISBN: 0199540306
Selected essays, Author: David Hume ; edited with an introduction and notes by Stephen Copley and Andrew Edgar., Publisher: Oxford University Press Reissued. 2008
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