Notes on Introduction to Philosophy -- Phil A201
William Jamison - Instructor
Fifth lecture notes for Introduction to Philosophy
There are quite a few wonderful sites with information and texts on Descartes. One link is a very well done presentation on the Meditations. Try this one for an overall picture of Descartes' life. Both of these links are different than the one given in the syllabus.
Slide 1: Descartes
Explanation: While for Augustine it was necessary to believe in order to understand -- so faith was prior to reason, and for Anselm faith sought understanding, and for Aquinas reason and faith were mutually supportive, with Descartes we move into the Modern period. His efforts are to establish a firm basis for our knowledge and this firm basis will be the logical certainty of the cogito and that which is clear and distinct to the thinking substance. His work begins what is known as rationalism.
Slide 2: René Descartes 1596 - 1650
Slide 3: René Descartes
Slide 4: René Descartes
Slide 5: René Descartes
Any interesting video that brings up Descartes is Mindwalk VHS ~ with Liv Ullmann (1991)
There are a number of sites available with information on Thomas Hobbes.
Slide 1: Thomas Hobbes
Explanation: Hobbes is arguably the first British empiricist, though this is usually considered Locke for reasons we will discuss with Locke. It is also arguable to view Hobbes as an example of a behaviorist, though this is also an interpretive issue. It is clear that Galileo had a great impact on his thought and his views can be seen as an application of Galileo's interest in movement to the human body.
Slide 2: Leviathan
Hobbes is the first of the social contract philosophers. Locke and Rousseau are others. A contemporary who uses the concept of social contract theory to develop a theory of justice is John Rawls.
Slide 3: Absolute Monarch - best
How much of Hobbes support for the absolute monarch is a result of the almost constant civil war during his life time? Even though he supported the absolute monarch, Hobbes is still viewed as the first liberal philosopher (by many) because the legitimacy of the monarch's authority was not Divine Right but the social contract.
Slide 4: Reformation - Bible as the source of all religious authority
Explanation: Both Hobbes and Spinoza must also be viewed in light of the reformation and what that was doing to religious belief, relationship of religious institutions to the state, and theories of ethics.
Slide 1: Spinoza
Slide 2: Tractatus Theologico-Politicus
Explanation: The greatest impact Spinoza had was after his death, since he published little during his life. However, his effect on the religious views of Locke and the work of Leibniz are of major importance.
Slide 3: Revelation as Practical
Explanation: If we look at the chain backwards from Jefferson to Locke to Spinoza we see a chain of thinking that effected religious freedom in the Virginia and the US. It seems pretty clear that Spinoza's interest in religious toleration because of his belief that science was the way to know God, had an impact on Locke and his support of religious toleration. Locke in turn had great impact on Jefferson. The result is the first attempt in our history of a nation resolved to prevent religious dogma or institutions from having control over law in general or each other.
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