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1 H ISTORY OF M ODERN T HOUGHT GE CLST 21A MW 2:00-3-15, D E N EVE P350 Professor Brian Copenhaver Department of Philosophy Office: 334 Dodd Hall Professor Mary Terrall Department of History Office: 5276 Bunche Hall Teaching Fellows: Dan Crosby <> Gustavo Garza <> Joe Hwang < > Michael Benson < > Jonathan Sigmon <> This course is an introduction to modern western thought from 1550 to 1800. By reading important texts from this period, discussing them and writing about them, you will learn about some of the distinctive features of modernity in its western version. Lectures – twice a week for 75 minutes – will analyze works by Marlowe, Shakespeare, Donne, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Newton, Leibniz, Voltaire, Diderot, Hume, Condorcet, Kant and Wollstonecraft. Short or relatively short texts connected thematically will be presented in chronological order to demonstrate the development of modern thought over two and a half centuries. Lectures will provide historical context for assigned readings as well as analysis of selected passages from assigned texts, and the same passages will be further explicated in discussions. Tests and assignments will evaluate understanding of the assigned texts and of lectures and discussions. Since this course carries Writing II credit, writing will also be an important part of your grade. (For important information about how to make sure you get Writing II credit, please check under “Announcements” on the couse webpage.) Lectures for weeks 1 and 2 are described below, and the remaining descriptions will follow as the course proceeds. Week 1 : Order and Disorder on the Boundary of Modernity . If your world were completely chaotic, lacking all order, how could you tell? Would you ask the question in the same way that Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare and John Donne would have asked it more than four centuries ago? Reading Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus , Donne’s “First Anniversarie” and short selections from nine plays by Shakespeare will help you frame this question in a clearer way.
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2 Week 2: A Method for Moderns . In 1637 René Descartes published a Discourse on the Method to introduce three other short pieces that he had written: a Geometry , an Optics and a Meteorology . The Discourse puts these little treatises in the framework of a larger system, not yet published by Descartes, of natural philosophy and metaphysics. When Descartes was writing, ‘natural philosophy’ meant roughly what we mean by
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This note was uploaded on 01/24/2011 for the course GE CLST 21a taught by Professor Briancopenhaver during the Spring '10 term at UCLA.

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