PHIL 463 - Topics in the History of Philosophy
Section: 001 Descartes' System
Term: FA 2012
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
Enforced Prerequisites:
One Philosophy course with C- or better.
Advisory Prerequisites:
PHIL 388 or 389, or permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

An in depth investigation of Descartes' epistemology and metaphysics based upon a careful reading of his major philosophical works and selected secondary literature.

The course will cover most of the following topics: epistemology and metaphysics before the Meditations, skepticism with regard to the senses, the cogito, clear and distinct perception, the causal arguments for the existence of God, the Cartesian circle, error and the will, the ontological argument, sense-perception and the nature of body, the mind's essence and the real distinction between mind and body, the substantial union and interactionism, error in sensation, animals as machines, the human intellect, laws of nature and scientific explanation, moral certainty and probability, occasionalist tendencies, immutable natures and necessity, the eternal truths, and innateness.

Primary source readings will include the Meditations and selections from the Rules for the Direction of the Mind, The World, Treatise on Man, Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conduction the Understanding, Optics, Objections and Replies to the Meditations, Principles of Philosophy, Passions of the Soul, and Descartes' correspondence.

Course Requirements:

An important component of the course for undergraduates will be philosophical writing, exposition, and revision in light of extensive comments on written work. Owing to the extensive writing requirements, there will be no in-class or final examinations. The quality and quantity of class participation, however, will count 15-20% of the final grade. Undergraduates are required to write complete three sets of writing exercises: three short, 3-4 page, papers; 5-7 page revisions of two short papers; and an 8-12 page revision of one revised paper. Graduate students will be required to write either three 7-10 page papers, or two 7-10 page papers and one 10-15 page revised paper, or a single 15-20 page paper. On either of the first two options, graduate students may substitute a final examination for a third paper.

Intended Audience:

The advisory prerequisite is either PHIL 388 or 389. PHIL 383 or 345 would also be helpful background. If you do not satisfy the advisory prerequisite, you are strongly encouraged to consult the instructor before enrolling.

Because this course is an intensive survey of a single figure, philosophy concentrators are strongly discouraged from utilizing this offering to satisfy a requirement in the history of philosophy unless they have prior experience in PHIL 388, 389, 405, 406, or 463.

Class Format:

The course will be lecture based, but with time also allotted for discussion.

PHIL 463 - Topics in the History of Philosophy
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
MW 11:30AM - 1:00PM
002 (LEC)
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

JULY 5 UPDATE. I will be asking all students to read Margaret Wilson, *Descartes* (Routledge), as a secondary source. (Please do not confuse this with Wilson's edition of Descartes' works, *The Essential Descartes.) Though I will assign various articles as supplementary reading, I will make these available electronically. Because I have decided to require Wilson, there is even less need to purchase any of the anthologies--though you might wish to do so for your own interest. All anthologies, as well as the book by Wilson, will be placed on reserve in the Tanner Philosophical Library. The first two items are volumes I and II of *The Philosophical Writings of Descartes*, edited by Cottingham, Stoothoff, and Murdoch (CSM). Do NOT substitute other editions. And do not confuse these with the single volume, *Descartes, Selected Philosophical Writings*. The third item is volume *III* of CSM. This is required for graduate students and recommended for undergraduates. For undergraduates, successful completion of this course satisfies the Upper-level Writing Requirement. Either Lanham or McCloskey should be most helpful in this regard. Please purchase one or the other.
ISBN: 052128807X
The Philosophical writings of Descartes, Author: translated by John Cottingham, Robert Stoothoff, Dugald Murdoch., Publisher: Cambridge University Press Reprint. 1993
ISBN: 0521288088
The philosophical writings of Descartes., Author: translated by John Cottingham, Robert Stoothoff, Dugald Murdoch., Publisher: Cambridge University Press Repr. 1985
ISBN: 0521423503
The philosophical writings of Descartes, Author: transl. by John Cottingham ..., Publisher: Cambridge Univ. Press 1. publ. 1991
ISBN: 0521366968
The Cambridge companion to Descartes, Author: ed. by John Cottingham, Publisher: Cambridge Univ. Press reprinted 1998
ISBN: 1405118741
The Blackwell guide to Descartes' Meditations, Author: ed. by Stephen Gaukroger., Publisher: Blackwell 1st publ. 2006
ISBN: 0847684873
Descartes's "Meditations" : critical essays, Author: ed. by Vere Chappell., Publisher: Md. 1997
ISBN: 0198751826
Descartes, Author: ed. by John Cottingham., Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press 1st publ. 1998
ISBN: 0321441699
Revising prose, Author: Richard A. Lanham., Publisher: Pearson Longman 5th ed. 2007
ISBN: 1577660633
Economical writing, Author: Deirdre N. McCloskey., Publisher: Waveland Press 2nd ed. 2000
ISBN: 0415065763
Descartes, Author: Margaret Dauler Wilson., Publisher: Routledge Repr. 1999
ISBN: 144433784X
A companion to Descartes, Author: edited by Janet Broughton and John Carriero., Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell 1. publ. p 2010
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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