An Abbreviated History of Western Philosophy I

Matthew Teismann

Max Enrollment:

Jan 6-9, 10-1

Gund 517

This course introduces major philosophical movements in Western philosophy from the Renaissance to David Hume. This course, like ‘An Abbreviated History of Western Philosophy II’,  is intended for those who are beginners or have intermediate knowledge of the major philosophers and philosophical problems. No prior knowledge of philosophy is required. This course will focus on the foundational issues, such as Descartes Reason and Leibniz’s Monadology. What is Descartes analytic method of thinking – and what impacts does it have on how we know (epistemology)? How does this relate to an empirical understanding of the cosmos as understood by Locke?

The main text of the class will be Betrand Russell’s The History of Western Philosophy. Since its first publication, this text has been universally acclaimed as the outstanding one-volume work on the subject – unparalleled in its comprehensiveness, its clarity, its erudition, its grace and wit. Russell writes: “Philosophy…is something intermediate between theology and science. It consists of speculations on matters as to which definite knowledge has been unascertainable; but like science, it appeals to human reason.” The structure of the one-week course will be one philosopher per class, outlined as follows:

From the Renaissance to Hume
Francis Bacon

Each student will be responsible for obtaining a copy of the text (available at the COOP or Amazon), and will be required to read the chapter(s) regarding each philosopher before their respective class. Readings, responses and participation are expected as these ensure the liveliness of our discussions. Students may also enroll in ‘An Abbreviated History of Western Philosophy II’, but it is not required. Students may enroll in either of these courses, or both.


$25 to purchase Bertrand Russell\’s \”The History of Western Philosophy\”