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Level 5

5AANB004 Modern Philosophy II: Spinoza & Leibniz

THIS MODULE IS RUNNING IN 2019-20

Credit value: 15
Module tutor: Dr Lucy Sheaf
Assessment:

2019-20

  • Summative assessment: 1 x 2-hour examination (100%) 
  • Formative assessment: 1 x 2,000 word essay

2018-19

  • Summative assessment: 1 x 2-hour examination (100%) 
  • Formative assessment: 1 x 2,000 word essay

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: one one-hour weekly lecture and one one-hour weekly seminar over ten weeks.
Pre-requisites:
none

This module will develop students’ familiarity with modern philosophy through an examination of the thought of Spinoza and Leibniz. Students will be introduced to the central metaphysical, epistemological, and moral claims of each philosopher, through a reading of primary texts. They will develop an appreciation of the historical context within which the thought of Spinoza and Leibniz developed. The course will examine the similarities and differences between these two crucial thinkers in the modern period, and will set out their approaches to topics such as the nature of substance, knowledge, and morality.

Indictive list of topics:

Introduction: the category ‘rationalism’

Spinoza

  • Theory of Substance I
  • Theory of Substance II
  • Theory of Knowledge
  • Moral Philosophy

Leibniz

  • Possible worlds and fundamental principles
  • Complete-concept theory, theory of truth, and theory of knowledge
  • The best of all possible worlds and Leibniz’s theodicy
  • What is ultimately real – unity and activity
  • Monads
  • Monads, corporeal substances, and bodies

Further information

Module Aims
Learning Outcomes
Past Syllabi
Seminar Reading (Core Material-All Posted on KEATS

Module aims

Through attention to the primary texts to communicate an understanding of the thought and core arguments of Spinoza and Leibniz.

  • To convey how the problems under discussion were motivated for these thinkers.

  • To develop a more advanced approach to the history of philosophy through engagement with more sophisticated secondary literature.

  • To teach students to read texts in the history of philosophy with care and subject them to philosophical analysis.

  • To gain an appreciation of the problems of interpretation that can arise in regard to figures in the history of philosophy as well as specifically philosophical challenges.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, the students will be able to demonstrate intellectual, transferable and practicable skills appropriate to a Level 5 module and in particular will be able to demonstrate:

  • A critical understanding of key philosophical views of Spinoza and Leibniz.

  • An understanding of the need for interpreting a philosopher’s claims in their historical context.

  • A careful readings of and reflection upon some core primary literature, as well as introductory and secondary material, and attention to questions of interpretation.

Past syllabi

Please note that module syllabus and topics covered may vary from year to year.

Seminar Reading (Core Material-All Posted on KEATS

Spinoza

1)      Ethics, Part I: Definitions 1-8; Axioms 1-7; Propositions 1-15 (including Demonstrations, Scholia, and Corollaries).

2)      Ethics, Part I: Propositions 16-36 (including Demonstrations, Scholia, and Corollaries) and Appendix.

3)      Ethics, Part II: Propositions 40-47 (including Demonstrations, Scholia, and Corollaries); Part V, Proposition 25 -- Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect, pp. 7-19, in The Collected Works of Spinoza, vol. I.

4)      Ethics, Part III: Propositions 1, 3, 6-7, 9, 11 (including Demonstrations, Scholia, and Corollaries); Part IV: Preface, Definitions 1-2, Propositions 3, 18, 24, 28, 67 (including Demonstrations, Scholia, and Corollaries); Part V: Preface, Propositions 20, 23, 29-30, 33, 40 (including Demonstrations, Scholia, and Corollaries).

Leibniz

5)      Primary Truths(1689)

G. W. Leibniz, Philosophical Essays, ed. by Roger Ariew and Daniel Garber, Indianapolis, 1989, pp. 30-34.

Discourse on Metaphysics(1686), paragraphs 8-14

In G. W. Leibniz, Philosophical Texts, trans. and edited by R. S. Woolhouse and R. Francks, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998; G. W. Leibniz, Philosophical Essays, ed. by Roger Ariew and Daniel Garber, Indianapolis, 1989, pp. 35-68.

6)      Meditations on Knowledge, Truth, and Ideas (1684).

In Leibniz, Philosophical Essays, ed. by Ariew and Garber, pp. 23-7; Leibniz, Philosophical Papers and Letters, trans. and ed. by Leroy E Loemker, second edition, Dordrecht and Boston: Reidel, 1969, pp. 291-295.

New Essays(1703-5) (in Leibniz, Philosophical Essays, ed. by Ariew and Garber): Preface, pp. 291-298; Book I, Chap. 1, § 1; Chap. 3, § 20; Book II, Chap. 11, § 17.

7)      Theodicy(1710). Selections (Paragraphs 1-10; 20-44; 195-6; 288). Trans. by E. M. Huggard. LaSalle, Ill.: Open Court, 1985.

Meditation on the Common Concept of Justice (1703), pp. 45-48, and Opinion on the Principles of Pufendorf(1706), section IV, pp. 70-73, in G. W. Leibniz, Political Writings. Trans. and ed. with an introduction by Patrick Riley. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972.

8)      Letter to Arnauld, 30 April 1687.

In Leibniz, Philosophical Essays, ed. by Ariew and Garber, pp. 81-90 (esp. pp. 85-90).

9)      Monadology(1714), paragraphs 1-42.

In: Leibniz, Philosophical Texts, trans. and edited by R. S. Woolhouse and R. Francks; G. W. Leibniz, Philosophical Writings, edited by G.H.R. Parkinson; G. W. Leibniz, Philosophical Papers and Letters, edited by L.E. Loemker; 

The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

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