10266 From Descartes to Hume: Philosophy in the 17th and 18th Centuries 1

Credits: 6 intermediate credits in Philosophy

Prerequisites: none

Author: Elazar Weinryb

The course deals with the history of philosophy and traces the development of two very important schools of thought formed during the 17th and 18th centuries in Western Europe, against the background of the scientific revolution. It examines the works of six philosophers: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley and Hume. The first three, European born, emphasized the role of reason as a source of knowledge, and are thus labeled “Continental Rationalists.” The other three, born in the British Isles, held that the source of all ideas and knowledge stems from experience gained through the senses, and are known as the “British Empiricists.” The struggle between these two outlooks, and their interrelationship, has shaped, to a large extent, the development of philosophy throughout the ages. Moreover, the problems discussed in the course are still relevant today. The course focuses on the works of the six philosophers (in Hebrew translation).

Topics: René Descartes (Meditations); Baruch Spinoza (Ethics); John Locke (An Essay Concerning Human Understanding); George Berkeley (A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge); David Hume (A Treatise of Human Nature); Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (The New System and other works); Summary.

1In its previous version, this course was called Philosophy in the 17th and 18th Centuries: Rationalism and Empiricism.