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Philosophy (PHIL) 342

Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Philosophy (Revision 4)

PHIL 342

Revision 4 closed, replaced by current version.

View previous syllabus.

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online.

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: 1 junior level philosophy course.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Philosophy home page

PHIL 342 is not available for challenge.


Philosophy 342: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Philosophy, a senior-level, three-credit course that provides an in-depth and comprehensive overview of the major figures in the Western tradition of early modern thought, focusing primarily on questions about reality and knowledge. This overview is developed from an historical perspective—as a sort of ongoing conversation among thinkers, some of whom are separated in time by more than a century. The thoughts, arguments and counter-arguments in the work of each create the cumulative impression of a “symposium”—literally, an after-dinner conversation—in the realm of the intellect. As the dialogue advances, there are more participants, more voices, more answers to the deceptively simple questions troubling all of them. What is existence? What is the difference between reality and illusion? What is everything we experience based on? What is God? These are questions of metaphysics.


The course consists of the following:

Unit 1: Introduction to Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Philosophy: Metaphysics and Epistemology in the Modern Era

Unit 2: René Descartes and Thomas Hobbes: The Geometrical Method

Unit 3: John Locke and Baruch Spinoza on `The Mind'

Unit 4: George Berkeley and Gottfried Leibniz: Idealists

Unit 5: David Hume and the Skeptical Challenge to Metaphysics

Unit 6: Immanuel Kant and the Rescue of Metaphysics


To receive credit for PHIL 342, you must complete all assignments, write a final examination, and obtain a composite course grade of at least “D” (50 percent). The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Short Essay
Final Exam Total
20% 40% 40% 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Philosophical Classics Volume III: Modern Philosophy, 6th ed., Forrest E. Baird, ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2011.

Other Materials

All other course materials are available online.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 4, November 17, 2011

View previous syllabus

Last updated by SAS  09/10/2013 12:28:39