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PHILOS 3NN3 Philos Of Enlightenment

Academic Year: Fall 2017

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Richard Arthur

Email: rarthur@mcmaster.ca

Office: University Hall 305

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23470


Office Hours: Tuesdays, 3:00 - 4:00 pm

Course Objectives:

‘Enlightenment’ is the characteristic philosophy of eighteenth century Europe, particularly of the thinkers associated with the Encyclopédie project. This movement was a concerted attempt to replace the old theological-cum-political order with one based on scientific reason and human rights. As such it defined the dominant outlook of the twentieth century, and constitutes the “modernism” against which postmodernism defines itself. We will be studying it through the writings of Voltaire, La Mettrie, Rousseau and Diderot, as well as through the Encyclopédie itself.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

  1. Man a Machine, Julien de La Mettrie, Hackett. ISBN: 0-87220-194-5.
  2. Rameau's Nephew and Other Works, Denis Diderot, Hackett 2001. ISBN: 0-87220-486-3.
  3. Candide, Voltaire, ed. Eric Palmer, Broadview Press. ISBN: 978-1-55111-746-1.

Other texts, such as Voltaire's Letters Concerning the English Nation, Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees, and Diderot's Early Philosophical Works, (ed. and transl. Margaret Jourdain) to be made available online or on Avenue.

I will be using Avenue to Learn (http://avenue.mcmaster.ca/) and a dedicated course website (www.humanities.mcmaster.ca/~rarthur/enlight/) to post regular announcements and information about the course, supplementary readings, additional resources, and information and advice about assessment (including essay questions). You are expected to check in every couple of days.

Method of Assessment:

  • Reflective comments on the readings: For each week’s required readings you are required to compose at least 2 comments (one brief paragraph each) on points of interest which you think will stimulate class discussion. When called upon in class to share your observations, you must have something interesting to offer, or you will lose active attendance credit. A hard copy of these comments must be submitted in person at the beginning of each class to obtain credit.  (10%)
  • In-class pop quizzes: these occasional quizzes will test you on your reading comprehension of the readings set  (20%)
  • A short essay (about 4000 words), either on a set topic or on an entry in the Encyclopédie of philosophical interest, due noon Monday, November 13. Topics and requirements for what is expected to be posted on the course web page. (30%)
  • A final exam in the final exam period.  40%)


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

  • Late assignments will be penalized at a rate of 2% per day or part day late (this includes weekend days). Assignments more than two weeks late will not normally be accepted.
  • If you have a minor ailment, please use the on-line MSAF. You should contact me by e-mail immediately after submitting the form. I will usually then grant you (at most) a one-week extension on the assignment, based on the original due date. Use these forms wisely (and honestly!), as you only get one per semester. For any major medical or other problem leading to absence, you should go to your faculty/program office, and they will contact me accordingly.
  • Students registered with SAS should come to see me as soon as possible after the start of the semester. I would like to know who you are and if there is any special assistance you require, while you should provide me with a copy of your accommodations letter.

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.