Have a Question? Contact the Humanities Office or an Academic Unit

PHILOS 2XX3 EarlyModernPhilosophyII

Academic Year: Winter 2017

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Brigitte Sassen

Email: sassenb@mcmaster.ca

Office: University Hall 306

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23475


Office Hours: TBA

Course Objectives:

Lecture Tuesdays 10:30 – 11:20; Thursdays 09:30 – 10:20 in BSB/B136

One  tutorial hour, as assigned

This is the second of two courses on early modern philosophy (2x03 and 2xx3).  Whereas the first studied the philosophers of the 17th century, this course will take on those of the 18th century.  More specifically, we will study texts by Samuel Clarke (1675 – 1729), George Berkeley (1685 – 1753) and David Hume (1711 – 1776). 

The course meets three hours a week.  Two hours are devoted to lectures (Tu 10:30 – 11:20; Th09:30 – 10:20), one to a tutorial for which students should have registered during course registration. Requirements include attendance and participation in tutorials (10%), one essay (3 – 5 pages) due February 10 (25%) and one essay (4 – 6 pages) due March 31 (30%), a bibliography assignment due in tutorial in the week of March 6 (5%), and a final exam (25%). Except for the bibliography assignment, papers are to be submitted electronically via the course web site (Avenue to Learn).  The web site checks for plagiarism.

Course Objectives:

By the end of the course, students should have

• developed familiarity with the major philosophical developments in this period

• developed the ability to read and interpret difficult philosophical texts

• developed facility in philosophical discussion

• developed facility in library research

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

course web site: http://avenue.mcmaster.ca/

•Berkeley, Georges. A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge .Hackett.

•Clarke, Samuel. A Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God.  Cambridge.

•Hume, David. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.  Broadview.

Method of Assessment:

•1 paper (3 – 5 pages) (25%)

•1 bibliography assignment (5%)

•1 paper (4 - 6 pages) (30%)

•attendance and participation in tutorial (10%)

•final exam (30%)



Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late submissions will generally not be accepted unless there is a documented reason.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:




Jan 4

Introductory Matters: Early Modern Philosophy in the 19th century: Figures and Issues



Jan 10 - 27

Clarke, A Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God



Jan 10 - 13

Clarke, Background and Audience

Demonstration , 3 – 8


Arguments for God’s existence

Demonstration  I,II

8 - 12

No tutorials this week

Jan 17 - 20

Divine and Human Liberty

Demonstration IX

46 – 54


Demonstration X

75 - 8

Tutorial 1

Jan 24 - 27


Demonstration  VII

38 – 41


Demonstration X

54 – 61


Tutorial 2

Jan 31 – Feb 10


Berkeley Principles


Jan 31  Feb 3

Abstract Ideas

Principles, Introduction



Principles  1 – 10


Tutorial 3




Feb 7 - 10


Principles 25 – 33, 89, 135-156


Tutorial 4


Paper 1 to be submitted to Avenue by Feb. 10, 11:30pm



Feb. 14 – March 17


Hume, An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding


Feb. 14 - 17

Inductive scepticism

Enquiry, 4



Enquiry  5.1, 9


Tutorial 5

Feb. 20 - 26

Mid-Term recess



Feb. 27 – March 3


Enquiry 2 – 3, 5.ii



Enquiry 6


Tutorial 6

March 7 - 10

Liberty & Necessity

Enquiry 8



Enquiry 10


Tutorial 7



Week of March 6: bibliography assignment due (in tutorial)

March 14 - 17


Enquiry 12


Tutorial 8

March 21 – 31


18th century responses to Hume



March 21 - 24

Thomas Reid

An Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense

In Hume Enquiry  217 -262 (selections)


Tutorial 9



March 28 - 31

Immanuel Kant

Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics and Critique of Pure Reason

In Hume, Enquiry,277 – 296 (selections)


Tutorial 10


Paper 2 to be submitted to Avenue by  March 31, 11:30pm

April 4, 6



Other Course Information:

Course and Tutorial evaluations will be done near the end of the year.

Students are encouraged to keep a copy of all submitted work for their own records.

This outline is subject to change given sufficient notice.