AP/PHIL4011 3.0 A: Seminar in the History of Modern Phil

Offered by: PHIL


Fall 2019






Calendar Description / Prerequisite / Co-Requisite

An intensive examination of the work of one or more philosophers of the modern period. Topics vary from year to year. Prerequisite: AP/PHIL 2020 3.00 or AP/PHIL 2025 3.00. Course credit exclusions: None. PRIOR TO FALL 2009: Prerequisite: At least nine credits in philosophy. Course credit exclusion: AS/PHIL 4011 3.00.

Course Website

Many courses utilize Moodle, York University's course website system. If your course is using Moodle, refer to the image below to access it.

    Additional Course Instructor/Contact Details

Jagdish Hattiangadi


Office Location:  S437 Ross Building

Phone Number:  (416) 736-2100 Ext. 77524

Office Hours:  Wednesdays 1:30  p.m. to 2:20 p.m., by appointment.

    Expanded Course Description

This course is an advanced course on Cartesian contributions to the origins of modern philosophy,. It takes up difficult issues in the subject of philosophy as they were being discussed in the early 17yth century, such as by Kepler and Galileo and later by Newton. Descartes’ work on which we focus the very first publication by Descartes, though not his first book length writing. We will read various snippets of texts by contemporary philosopher/scientists to shed light on Descartes’ influence on  Modern Philosophy, which at the time included what we call science today. The discussion will be in seminar form and also by way of discussions on Moodle. Each week, we will take up topics from the texts, and each student will be asked to report on material, to be discussed in class. Because the course is very short (6 weeks in duration) it is also very intense. At the first seminar we will discuss the rules of the seminar, and how it is graded, and the topics covered to give time to participants to read and prepare for the week. Thereafter, the course will proceed for a total of six weeks, for the remaining 11 sessions. Moodle sessions are integral to the course, and students are requested to keep discussion of ideas short and to the point, so that it is vigorous and interesting to all participants.

    Required Course Text / Readings

R. Descartes, Discourse on Method. Optics. Geometry and Meteorology, translated and edited by Paul Olscamp. Various readings will supplement it from Kepler, Galileo and Newton to understand the context of Cartesian thought.

    Weighting of Course

30% Moodle discussion, eligible for grading only when posted 24 hours prior to  planned discussion in class.

30% Mid term paper, due on or before October 21st ar 12:30 p.m. in the departmental drop box and also on the Moodle Turnitin course address..

40% Final paper (in electronic and also printed form) due no later than the November t8th after the last scheduled seminar.

    Organization of the Course

Weekly Seminars

    Course Learning Objectives
  1. An advanced seminar course such as this has as its primary learning objective the ability to follow difficult but intriguing issues in abstract philosophical theory.
  2. As a final year undergraduate course in philosophy it will also prepare the student for graduate work in related areas.
  3. Abstracting intricate arguments, weighing the merits of opposed but seemingly well argued positions and making high level judgments based on merits of arguments are key skills needed in many professions and vocations. Learning them in this setting will help anyone who will take up other intellectually challenging work after graduation, even if this does not involve continuing study on this or a related topic.
  4. Writing essays clearly and making relevant arguments and points in electronic and in face to face discussion are also valuable skills to develop for those who seek a wide variety of challenging job opportunities after graduation.
    Relevant Links / Resources