Second Paper


  1. Please write a five-page paper in response to ONE of the topics below. The text should be double-spaced. Do not skip extra spaces between paragraphs. A hard-copy version of the paper is due Ses #13.
  2. Your paper must be computer-processed. Please give your paper a title, and write your name on the back of the last page. Do not write your name elsewhere on the paper. All pages should be numbered. Refer to the editing handout, posted on the web site, for further editing suggestions. You may also consult with tutors at the Writing Center or with me about your paper.
  3. Citations to texts read in this course should be made in parentheses in your paper. For example, if you refer to a passage on page 13 of Descartes’ Discourse, indicate this in the following manner at the end of your sentence, after the period: (Descartes, 13). Full citations to any work not assigned in class should be made in footnote or endnote form, but for this paper in most cases you do not need to consult outside readings.


  1. “Sir Isaac Newton was the last of the great early modern humanist theologians, not the first modern scientist.” Write an essay in which you defend this proposition. You may wish to use material available online at “The Newton Project” to develop your argument; the link is available on the “materials” page of the web site. You may not use other online sources.

  2. In what ways is the author of the excerpts you have read from the Theological-Political Treatise a follower of René Descartes? In what ways does he break with Cartesian thought and method as outlined in the Discourse on Method?

  3. Imagine you are a college student in Amsterdam in 1670. You have just read a clandestinely circulated, anonymous manuscript entitled Theological-Political Treatise. The somewhat scruffy instructor who slipped this work to you under the table hints that it was written by a heretical Jew named Baruch Spinoza. The same ill-kempt teacher then gives you the following assignment:

    How would the author of the Theological-Political Treatise evaluate ONE of the following two seventeenth-century English political debates: 1) the arguments of Thomas Rainsborough, William Ireton and others at Putney in 1647 concerning the extent of participation in politics by the English people; or 2) the arguments of John Locke and Roger L’Estrange on the relations between Church and State.”

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2011