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History of Philosophy V: The Modern Rationalists

Lecturer: Jon Roffe

Originally Taught: Winter School 2006

This course, the fifth instalment in the MSCP History of Philosophy Series, will be dedicated to the modern philosophical tradition known as rationalism. This course will centre around the discussion of the three great rationalists in modern thought: Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz.

More broadly, though, this discussion will take place in the context of three comparisons: of rationalism with the scholastic philosophy that proceeds it (and with which it has an intimate if antagonistic relationship), of rationalism with empiricism (its alleged enemy in modern philosophy), and with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, which attempts to synthesise all of these three traditions. Finally, two themes will be pursued throughout, themes central to the rationalist project, which are reason and the infinite.

Monday A thematic introduction
Tuesday René Descartes
Wednesday Benedict de Spinoza
Thursday Gottfried Leibniz
Friday Conclusion