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Early Modern

Early Modern Philosophy

Early Modern Philosophy in General

  • Encyclopedia entries:
    • 17th and 18th Century Theories of Emotions: SEP
    • 17th Century Theories of Substance: IEP
    • 18th Century German Philosophy Prior to Kant: SEP
    • American Philosophy: IEP
    • Atomism from the 17th to the 20th Century: SEP
    • Cambridge Platonists: SEP
    • Contemporary Metaphilosophy: IEP
    • English Deism: IEP
    • German Idealism: IEP
    • Neo-Stoicism: IEP
    • Renaissance Philosophy: IEP
    • Renaissance Humanism: IEP
    • Russian Philosophy: IEP
    • Scottish Philosophy in the 18th Century: SEP
    • Scottish Philosophy in the 19th Century: SEP
  • Early Modern Texts houses translations, by Jonathan Bennett, of many early modern works into intelligible modern English.

Rationalism Versus Empiricism

  • Encyclopedia entries:
    • Rationalism vs. Empiricism: SEP
    • Continental Rationalism: SEP
  • In this In Our Time programme, from BBC Radio 4, Melvyn Bragg discusses empiricism with Judith Hawley, Murray Pittock and Jonathan Rée.

Rene Descartes (1596–1650)

  • Open access copies of Descartes' major works include:
    • Rules for the Direction of the Mind (1628): here or here.
    • Discourse on Method (1637): here or here.
    • Meditations on First Philosophy (1641): here or here.
    • Principles of Philosophy (1644): here or here.
  • Encyclopedia entries:
    • Descartes: SEP & IEP
    • Descartes' life and works: SEP
    • Descartes' epistemology: SEP
    • Descartes' ethics: SEP
    • Descartes' modal metaphysics: SEP
    • Descartes on the mind-body distinction: IEP
    • Descartes on the scientific method: IEP
    • Descartes' ontological argument: SEP
    • Descartes' physics: SEP
    • Descartes' theory of ideas: SEP
    • Descartes and the pineal gland: SEP
  • Descartes podcasts:
    • Philosophy Bites: A. C. Grayling discusses Descartes' cogito argument.
    • Philosophy Bites: Colin McGinn discusses the Descartes' account of innate knowledge.
    • In Our Time: Melvyn Bragg discusses the cogito argument with Susan James (University of London), John Cottingham (Reading) and Stephen Mulhall (Oxford).
    • The Partially Examined Life: on Descartes' first and second meditations.
  • The great philosopher Bernard Williams discusses Descartes' arguments of the Meditations in the following clip, which is part 1 of 5 parts. (The others are part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5.)
  • John Cottingham of the University of Reading introduces Descartes' philosophy in the next clip:
  • Less seriously. S Peter Davis gives an expletive-laden 3-minute take on Descartes in the following clip. (Don't watch it if you're French.)

Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679)

  • Open access copies of Hobbes' major works include:
    • Leviathan (1651): here, here, or here.
    • Treatise on Human Nature (1650): here.
    • De Cive (1651): here.
  • Encyclopedia entries:
    • Hobbes: SEP
    • Hobbes' Methodology: IEP
    • Hobbes' Moral and Political Philosophy: SEP & IEP
  • Hobbes podcasts:
    • Philosophy Bites: Noel Malcolm, who has recently published a 3 volume scholarly edition of Hobbes' Leviathan, here discusses the historical context in which Hobbes wrote.
    • Philosophy Bites: What is the state and how should it be organised? Here Quentin Skinner sheds light on Thomas Hobbes' answers to these fundamental questions in political philosophy.
    • In Our Time: Melvyn Bragg discusses Hobbes' political philosophy with Quentin Skinner (Cambridge), David Wootton (York) and Annabel Brett (Cambridge).
    • The Partially Examined Life: on Hobbes’s Leviathan and the notion of the Social Contract.
  • Peter Millican introduces Hobbes' philosophy to first-year students at Oxford in the next clip:

Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677)

  • Open access versions of Spinoza's major works include:
  • Encyclopedia entries:
    • Spinoza: SEP & IEP
    • Spinoza's Metaphysics: IEP
    • Spinoza's Modal Metaphysics: SEP
    • Spinoza's Physical Theory: SEP
    • Spinoza's Political Philosophy: SEP & IEP
    • Spinoza's Psychological Theory: SEP
    • Spinoza's Theory of Attributes: SEP
  • Spinoza podcasts:
    • Philosophy Bites: Susan James, Spinoza expert at Birkbeck College, discusses Spinoza's account of the "passions".
    • In Our Time: Melvin Bragg discusses Spinoza with Jonathan Rée (Roehampton University) Sarah Hutton (Professor of English at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth) and John Cottingham (University of Reading).
    • The Partially Examined Life and Part 2: these two podcasts are about Spinoza's Ethics.
    • Christopher of Lydon of Radio OpenSource discusses Spinoza's philosophy with philosopher Rebecca Goldstein and neuroscientist Antonio Damasio in the following podcast:
  • Useful Spinoza sites:
  • Anthony Quinton discusses Spinoza and Leibniz in the following clip, which is part 1 of 4 parts, the others being part 2, part 3 and part 4:

John Locke (1632–1704)

  • Open access copies of Locke's major works include:
  • Some of Locke's works have been translated into more easily intelligible modern English by eminent scholar, Jonathan Bennett. The translations are here.
  • Encyclopaedia entries:
  • Locke podcasts:
    • Philosophy Bites: John Locke thought that continuity of memory was the basic criterion for determining whether or not we are dealing with the same person over time. In this podcast Paul Snowdon, in contrast, argues that we should see ourselves as primarily human animals.
    • Philosophy Bites: John Dunn gives an overview of Locke's advocacy of religious toleration.
    • The Partially Examined Life: on Locke's Second Treatise on Government and what legitimises political power.
    • Nigel Warburton: a podcast chapter from Warburton's Philosophy: The Classics on Locke's Second Treatise of Civil Government.
  • John Perry of the University of St Andrews introduces Lockes' theology, ethics and politics in the next clip:
  • Less seriously. The next clip is S Peter Davis's 3-minute take on Locke:

Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716)

  • Open access versions of Leibniz's major works include:
  • Jonathan Bennett has more Leibniz translations here.
  • Encyclopaedia entries:
    • Leibniz: SEP
    • Leibniz's Influence on Kant: SEP
    • Leibniz's Ethics: SEP
    • Leibniz's Influence on 19th Century Logic: SEP
    • Leibniz's Metaphysics: IEP
    • Leibniz's Modal Metaphysics: SEP
    • Leibniz's Philosophy of Mind: SEP
    • Leibniz's Philosophy of Physics: SEP
    • Leibniz on Causation: SEP & IEP
    • Leibniz on Problem of Evil: SEP
  • Leibniz podcasts:
  • Useful Leibniz sites:
  • The following video (in three parts) addresses that pressing question, "What the heck are monads?"

George Berkeley (1685–1753)

  • Open access copies of Berkeley's major works include:
    • An Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision (1709, 1732): here, here, or here.
    • A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710): here, here, or here.
    • Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous, in Opposition to Sceptics and Atheists (1713): here, here, or here.
    • The Analyst: a Discourse Directed to an Infidel Mathematician (1734): here, or here.
    • The Querist (1734): here, or here
    • A Defence of Free-Thinking in Mathematics (1735): here, or here.
  • Encyclopaedia entries:
  • In the following clip Peter Millican introduces Berkeley's idealism to first-year students at Oxford, by way of a nice little detour into Malebranche's theory of causal occasionalism:

David Hume (1711–1776)

  • Open access copies of Hume's major works include:
    • A Treatise of Human Nature (1739): here, here, or here.
    • An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748): here, or here.
    • An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1751): here, here, or here.
    • Of Suicide (1755): here.
    • Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779): here, here, or here.
  • davidhume.org also has open access versions of all Hume's philosophical works.
  • Some of Hume's works have been translated into more easily intelligible modern English by eminent scholar, Jonathan Bennett. The translations are here.
  • Encyclopaedia entries:
    • Hume: SEP & IEP
    • Hume's Aesthetics: SEP
    • Hume on Causation: IEP
    • Hume on Free Will: SEP
    • Hume's Moral Philosophy: SEP
    • Hume's Newtonianism and anti-Newtonianism: SEP
    • Hume on Religion: SEP & IEP
  • Hume podcasts:
    • In Our Time: Melvyn Bragg discusses Hume with Peter Millican (Oxford), Helen Beebee (Birmingham) and James Harris (St Andrews).
    • In Our Time: Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century, which was crowned by the philosophical brilliance of David Hume and by Adam Smith – the father of modern economics. His guests are Tom Devine (Aberdeen), Karen O’Brien (Warwick) and Alexander Broadie (Glasgow).
    • Philosophy Bites: Stuart Sutherland discusses Hume's critique of the argument from design.
    • Philosophy Bites: Peter Millican explains Hume's significance and provides textual evidence for Hume's atheism.
    • Philosophy Bites: Paul Russell speaks on David Hume's irreligion and how it pervades every aspect of Hume's first book
    • Philosophy Bites: Mike Martin discusses Hume's 'Of the Standard of Taste'.
    • Philosophy Bites: Alison Gopnik explains how Hume's "bundle theory" of self might have been influenced by Buddhist theories of self.
    • The Partially Examined Life: on Hume's theory of ideas, his account of causation, and his account of free will, among other things.
    • The Partially Examined Life: on what Hume and Adam Smith say about moral sentiments.
    • The Partially Examined Life: Patricia Churchland discusses the neurophysiological basis of the moral sentiments.
    • Nigel Warburton: a podcast chapter from Warburton's Philosophy: The Classics on Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.
    • Nigel Warburton: a podcast chapter from Warburton's Philosophy: The Classics on Hume's views on a number of issues such as induction, causation, and miracles as presented in An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.
  • Useful Hume sites:
    • Hume Studies is the major academic journal devoted to Hume, and all its issues except for those of the last few years are in an open access archive here.
  • David Furgusson, Professor of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh, introduces Hume in the next clip:
  • In the following clip Peter Millican introduces Hume's philosophy to first-year students at Oxford, with a focus on human causal reasoning, free will, and morality:
  • Less seriously. For an irreverent take on Hume's philosophy, splendidly laced with foul language, see the following clip:

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778)

  • Open access copies of Rousseau's major works include:
  • The Rousseau Association maintains the online "Library of Rousseau Studies" here. (It includes many articles on Rousseau in English, and many in French.)
  • Encyclopaedia entries:
  • Useful links and resources:
    • Qvortrup, M. (2003) The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau: The impossibility of reason, Manchester University Press, is a book available online here.
  • Rousseau podcasts:
    • In Our Time: Melvyn Bragg and guests Melissa Lane (Cambridge), Susan James (University of London) and Karen O’Brien (Warwick) discuss the Social Contract and ask a foundational question of political philosophy – by what authority does a government govern?
    • Philosophy Bites: Melissa Lane (historian at Cambridge) explains Rousseau's view that civilization is for the most part morally corrupting.
    • The Partially Examined Life: on Rousseau's theory of human nature as developed in the Discourse in Inequality and The Social Contract.
    • Nigel Warburton: How should society be organised? Can you force someone to be free? Rousseau's controversial The Social Contract is the subject of this podcast chapter of Nigel Warburton's book Philosophy: The Classics.

Immanuel Kant (1724–1804)

  • Steve Palmquist (Hong Kong Baptist University) maintains a comprehensive directory to online Kant resources.
  • Open access versions of Kant's major works include:
    • Critique of Pure Reason (1781/1787): here, here, here, or here.
    • Critique of Practical Reason (1788): here or here.
    • Critique of Judgement (1790): here, here, or here.
    • Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (1783): here, here, or here.
    • Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals (1785): here, here, here, here, or here.
    • Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone (1793): here
  • Encyclopaedia entries:
    • Kant: SEP
    • Kant's Moral Philosophy: SEP
    • Kant's Account of Radical Evil: IEP
    • Kant's Account of Reason: SEP
    • Kant's Aesthetics: IEP
    • Kant's Aesthetics and Teleology: SEP
    • Kant's Critique of Metaphysics: SEP
    • Kant's Philosophical Development: SEP
    • Kant's Philosophy of Mathematics: SEP
    • Kant's Metaphysics: IEP
    • Kant's Philosophy of Religion: SEP & IEP
    • Kant's Philosophy of Science: SEP
    • Kant's Social and Political Philosophy: SEP
    • Kant's Theory of Judgement: SEP
    • Kant's Transcendental Arguments: SEP
    • Kant's View of the Mind and Consciousness of the Self: SEP
    • Kant's Views on Space and Time: SEP
  • The "Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind" has this entry on Kant's Philosophy of Mind.
  • Useful Kant sites:
  • Kant podcasts:
  • Christoper Insole of Durham University introduces Kant's philosophy in the next two clips:
  • Less seriously. Peter Davis provides his take on Kant's moral philosophy in the following clip: