History of early modern philosophy

A.Y. 2021/2022
9
Max ECTS
60
Overall hours
SSD
M-FIL/06
Language
Italian
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide students with a solid basic knowledge of the history of early modern philosophical and scientific thought. The course will encourage the students' disposition to investigate new topics, thus increasing their knowledge and competence. Students will also develop a comprehension of the many interdisciplinary perspectives that characterise early modern thought.
Expected learning outcomes
By the end of the course, students will:
- know the fundamental aspects of the history of early modern Western philosophy, with special regard to the topics discussed in the course;
- understand the relationships connecting the history of philosophy to the history of science, politics, society, culture, theology, and religion;
- understand the concepts and lines of argument used by the authors analysed;
- know the basic methodological tools of the historical-philosophical investigation.
Moreover, students will be able to:
- apply the knowledge acquired in framing early modern authors and texts historically;
- apply the understanding of the historical relationships between philosophy and other doctrines to the analysis and discussion of texts and problems;
- apply the understanding of concepts and argumentative forms to the analysis of complex texts and problems.
Course syllabus and organization

[A-K]

Responsible
Lesson period
Second semester
More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for the academic year 2021/22 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation
Course syllabus
Throughout the course, students will be offered an analysis of the fundamental aspects of the history of early modern Western philosophy, with special regard to the historical, political, and scientific contexts in which early modern authors developed their philosophical stances.

Which is the proper nature of moral notions? Can a moral law be admitted, alongside the law of nature? Is there a moral necessity as distinct from the natural one? Can we speak of freedom of the moral subject if we admit physical determinism?
The concepts at the heart of these questions are analyzed with reference to two modern authors: the seventeenth-century Platonist, Ralph Cudworth, to whom historiography now recognizes a central role in English philosophy, and Immanuel Kant. Cudworth's solution in Platonic rationalism is analyzed starting from his conception of nature, and gnoseology, his criticism of Descartes' dualism, and Hobbes' voluntarism. In the last part of the course, Kant's Critique of Practical Reason is examined, with special reference to the relation between freedom and objectively necessary practical laws.
Prerequisites for admission
No prior knowledge is needed.
Teaching methods
Lectures
Debate and discussion
Textual readings
Teaching Resources
ASSIGNED READINGS FOR ATTENDING STUDENTS, 6 ECTU:

1. Th. Hobbes, Elementi di filosofia. Il corpo, tr. it. A. Negri, Utet, Torino 1986, cap. XXV, pp. 376-394 (available online https://ariel.unimi.it/ (Storia della filosofia moderna A-K)
2. R. Cudworth, The Digression concerning the plastick life of nature, in The true intellectual system of the universe, cap. III, sez. 37, pp.146-174 (London 1678; rist. New York - London 1978), tr. it. La vita plastica della natura, a cura di M. Baldi, con introduzione) (available online)
3. R. Cudworth, A Treatise concerning eternal and immutable morality (London 1731), nuova ed. S. Hutton, Cambridge 1996: libro I, cap. 1; libro III, cap. 1; libro IV, cap. 1, 2, 3, 6, pp. 9-16; 49-53; 73-118; 143-152, tr. it. Trattato sulla morale eterna e immutabile, a cura di M. Baldi, ((available online)
4. R. Cudworth, A Treatise of freewill (London 1838; ), nuova ed. S. Hutton, Cambridge 1996, pp. 153-209, tr. it. Trattato sul libero arbitrio, a cura di M. Baldi ((available online).
5. E. Cassirer, La rinascenza platonica in Inghilterra e la Scuola di Cambridge, La Nuova Italia, Firenze 1968, capp. 1 e 3, pp. 9-26, 45-90 ((available online)

If the authors covered by the program have not been studied before, it is necessary to read the chapters dedicated to Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, and Kant in G. Cambiano, M. Mori, Tempi del pensiero. Storia e antologia della filosofia, 2 : Età moderna, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2012.012.

ADDITIONAL READINGS FOR ATTENDING STUDENTS SITTING THE EXAM FOR 9 ECTS:

1. Kant, Critica della ragion pratica, tr. it. F. Capra, Laterza, Bari, 1997: prefazione; introduzione; parte prima, libro primo, cap. primo
2. one from the following:
- F. Gonnelli, Guida alla lettura della Critica della ragion pratica, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2008
- S. Landucci, La Critica della ragion pratica di Kant. Introduzione alla lettura, Carocci, Roma 2011

ASSIGNED READINGS FOR NON ATTENDING STUDENTS, 6 ECTU:

1. Th. Hobbes, Elementi di filosofia. Il corpo, tr. it. A. Negri, Utet, Torino 1986, cap. XXV, pp. 376-394 (available online https://ariel.unimi.it/ (Storia della filosofia moderna A-K)
2. R. Cudworth, The Digression concerning the plastick life of nature, in The true intellectual system of the universe, cap. III, sez. 37, pp.146-174 (London 1678; rist. New York - London 1978), tr. it. La vita plastica della natura, a cura di M. Baldi, con introduzione) (available online)
3. R. Cudworth, A Treatise concerning eternal and immutable morality (London 1731), nuova ed. S. Hutton, Cambridge 1996: libro I, cap. 1; libro III, cap. 1; libro IV, cap. 1, 2, 3, 6, pp. 9-16; 49-53; 73-118; 143-152, tr. it. Trattato sulla morale eterna e immutabile, a cura di M. Baldi, ((available online)
4. R. Cudworth, A Treatise of freewill (London 1838; ), nuova ed. S. Hutton, Cambridge 1996, pp. 153-209, tr. it. Trattato sul libero arbitrio, a cura di M. Baldi ((available online).
5. E. Cassirer, La rinascenza platonica in Inghilterra e la Scuola di Cambridge, La Nuova Italia, Firenze 1968, capp. 1 e 3, pp. 9-26, 45-90 ((available online)

If the authors covered by the program have not been studied before, it is necessary to read the chapters dedicated to Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, and Kant in G. Cambiano, M. Mori, Tempi del pensiero. Storia e antologia della filosofia, 2 : Età moderna, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2012.012.

ADDITIONAL READINGS FOR NON ATTENDING STUDENTS SITTING THE EXAM FOR 9 ECTS:

1. Kant, Critica della ragion pratica, tr. it. F. Capra, Laterza, Bari, 1997: prefazione; introduzione; parte prima, libro primo, cap. primo
2. one from the following:
- F. Gonnelli, Guida alla lettura della Critica della ragion pratica, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2008
- S. Landucci, La Critica della ragion pratica di Kant. Introduzione alla lettura, Carocci, Roma 2011
Assessment methods and Criteria
Oral exam: The purpose of the oral exam will be to test the knowledge and skills acquired by students in light of the activities and other course topics.
Evaluation criteria:
- knowledge of the theoretical aspects of the topics discusses during the course;
- ability to formulate and discuss the concepts analyzed;
- capacity of use and apply technical lexicon of early modern metaphysics;
- use of philosophical language being aware of its variations.
Unita' didattica A
M-FIL/06 - HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica B
M-FIL/06 - HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica C
M-FIL/06 - HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours

[L-Z]

Responsible
Lesson period
Second semester
More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for academic year 2021-2022 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation.
Course syllabus
A scandal for philosophy: the proof of the existence of the external world, from Descartes to Berkeley

Throughout the course, students will be offered an analysis of the fundamental aspects of the history of early modern Western philosophy, with special regard to the historical, political, and scientific contexts in which early modern authors developed their philosophical stances.

In the Critique of Pure Reason Kant writes that the inability to provide sufficient proof of the existence of external things constitutes "a scandal for philosophy and for common sense in general". This scandal is, however, a specific feature of modern philosophy. It is only with Descartes, in fact, that doubt about the existence of external things enters fully into the history of metaphysics. It was also Descartes who first attempted to prove the existence of the external world. How can we distinguish our real experience from a hypothetical total and permanent illusion? Is an actual proof of the existence of external things indispensable to construct a science of nature or not? Does the existence of my body, that which belongs to me in its own right and in which I feel myself perceiving, require a special kind of proof?

The first part of the course will be devoted to Descartes. We will analyse in detail the proof proposed by the Metaphysical Meditations and the Principles of Philosophy, also comparing the Cartesian theses with their medieval antecedents and with some readings in contemporary phenomenology. Two critiques of Descartes' proof, by Spinoza and Malebranche, will also be examined.

The second part of the course will trace the paradoxical fortune of Descartes' proof of the existence of the world. The proof will in fact provoke a series of increasingly harsh criticisms that will lead to its progressive refutation and the emergence of immaterialism. Berkeley's Treatise concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge constitutes its most complete formulation, although not without ambiguities.

The third part of the course will be devoted to Condillac's Treatise on Sensations, which takes up and reformulates Berkeley's immaterialist legacy in an original way. The discovery of the external world passes through the experience of our body, through the sense of touch. The possibility of organising perceptions in a world of external objects thus depends on the consciousness of an ego that recognises itself as embodied.
Prerequisites for admission
No prior knowledge is needed.
Teaching methods
Lectures
Debate and discussion
Textual readings
Teaching Resources
READINGS AND ASSIGNMENTS FOR ATTENDING STUDENTS:

Assignments for both 6 and 9 ECTS exams:

I.1. Descartes, Méditations métaphysiques.

I.2. Emanuela Scribano, Guida alle Meditazioni metafisiche di Descartes, Laterza, 2010,
I.3. Sergio Landucci, Una cosa che pensa. La mente in Cartesio, Mondadori, 2021 (nuova edizione riveduta e corretta).

II.1. Berkeley, Treatise concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge.

II.2. Silvia Parigi, "Introduzione" in Opere filosofiche, a cura di S. Parigi, UTET, 1996 (available on Ariel webpage of the course) .

Additional assignments for 9 ECTS exam:

III.1. Condillac, Traité des sensations.

III.2. Rita Fornari, Condillac. Ontologia ed empirismo, Aracne Editrice, 2015, p. 71-154.

If the authors covered by the programme have not been studied before, it is necessary to read the chapters dedicated to Descartes, Berkeley and the Enlightenment in G. Cambiano, M. Mori, Tempi del pensiero. Storia e antologia della filosofia, 2: Età moderna, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2012.


READINGS AND ASSIGNMENTS FOR NOT ATTENDING STUDENTS:


Assignments for both 6 and 9 ECTS exams:

I.1. Descartes, Méditations métaphysiques.

I.2. Emanuela Scribano, Guida alle Meditazioni metafisiche di Descartes, Laterza, 2010,
I.3. Sergio Landucci, Una cosa che pensa. La mente in Cartesio, Mondadori, 2021 (nuova edizione riveduta e corretta).

II.1. Berkeley, Treatise concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge.

II.2. Silvia Parigi, "Introduzione" in Opere filosofiche, a cura di S. Parigi, UTET, 1996 (available on Ariel webpage of the course)
II.3. R. Popkin, Storia dello scetticismo, Mondadori, 2008.

Additional assignments for 9 ECTS exam:

III.1. Condillac, Traité des sensations.

III.2. Rita Fornari, Condillac. Ontologia ed empirismo, Aracne Editrice, 2015.

IV
One book from the following list:

Scetticismo Una vicenda filosofica, a cura di M. De Caro, E. Spinelli, Carocci, 2008.
A. Coliva, Scetticismo. Dubbio, paradosso e conoscenza, Laterza, 2012.
S. Moravia, La scienza dell'uomo nel Settecento, con una appendice di testi, Bari: Laterza, 1970.
D. Outram, L'Illuminismo, Il Mulino, Bologna, 2006.

If the authors covered by the programme have not been studied before, it is necessary to read the chapters dedicated to Descartes, Berkeley and the Enlightenment in G. Cambiano, M. Mori, Tempi del pensiero. Storia e antologia della filosofia, 2: Età moderna, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2012.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Oral exam: The purpose of the oral exam will be to test the knowledge and skills acquired by students in light of the subject and the text of the course.
Evaluation criteria:
- knowledge of the theoretical aspects of the topics discusses during the course;
- ability to formulate and discuss the concepts analyzed;
- capacity of use and apply technical lexicon of early modern metaphysics;
- use of philosophical language being aware of its variations.
Unita' didattica A
M-FIL/06 - HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica B
M-FIL/06 - HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica C
M-FIL/06 - HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Professor(s)
Reception:
Wednesday, 4-7pm. During the period of partial suspension of in-person teaching due to the restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus emergency, office hours will be held remotely. Please write to the teacher to define the modalities.
Dipartimento di Filosofia, Cortile Ghiacciaia, Ist floor.