Classics in Western Philosophy

Rene Descartes.

René Descartes, 1596-1650. Engraving by W. Holl after painting by Franz Hals. (Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [reproduction number: LC-USZ62-61365 (b&w film copy neg.)].)


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As Taught In

Spring 2006



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Course Features

Course Description

This course will introduce you to the Western philosophical tradition, through the study of major figures such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, and Kant. You will get to grips with questions that have been significant to philosophy from its beginnings: questions about the nature of the mind or soul, the existence of God, the foundations of knowledge, ethics and the good life. In the process of evaluating the arguments of these philosophers, you will develop your own philosophical and analytical skills. You will also observe changes of intellectual outlook over time, and the effect of scientific, religious and political concerns on the development of philosophical ideas.

Lecture handouts will be supplied for Lec #1-8, and #16-25. For the section on Descartes' Meditations, Lec #9-15, my separate Study Guide to Descartes' Meditations is available in the study materials section.

Rae Langton. 24.01 Classics in Western Philosophy, Spring 2006. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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