Philosophy 305     REVISED! CORRECTED DATES!
Modern Philosophy: 17th Century

Course Syllabus  Fall 2010    Tuesday-Thursday 10:30am - 11:45am in Maclean 165

T. Gracyk    

Office: Bridges 359B      Office:  477-4089    

Office hours:    MWF 9 am to 1 pm  & by appointment



  • Readings in Modern Philosophy, Vol. 1
    edited by Ariew and Watkins (paperback) Hackett Publishing

  • Descartes: A Very Short Introduction
    By Tom Sorell; Oxford University Press

  • Locke: A Very Short Introduction 
    By John Dunn; Oxford University Press

  • Course Pack for Phil 305: Contains edited version of Locke's
    Essay Concerning Human Understanding

(Basis of course grade)
First exam (take-home) 25% of grade
Second exam (take-home) 25% of grade
Final Exam (in class ) 25% of grade
12 argument summaries 25% of grade

All grading uses the +/- system


Philosophers argue and analyze arguments. You will present, as a set of premises (and not in paragraph form), 12 distinct arguments that I have identified for you. Each argument summary is to be typed or very neatly printed. Limit each summary to one side of a standard sheet of paper. (It may not take that much space: thatís the limit on length.) 

The purpose of this assignment is to get you to give extended attention to some important arguments before we discuss them in class. SAMPLE ASSIGNMENT HERE.

  • Assignment #1  ~ Due  Aug 26
    Do an argument analysis of  Galileo, page 9, 1st full paragraph (begins "Now, whenever..."). 
  • Assignment #2 ~ Due Aug 31
    Do an argument analysis of Descartes, Discourse, page 17, paragraph that begins "And as for myself..." 
  • Assignment #3 ~ Due  Sept. 7
    Do an argument analysis of  Descartes, Meditations, page 28, paragraph that begins "Let us assume..."
  • Assignment #4 ~ Due  Sept. 14  
    Do an argument analysis of Descartes, Meditations, page 36, 1st full paragraph (begins "And finally...")
  • Assignment #5 ~ Due Sept. 21   
    Do an argument analysis of Descartes, Meditations, page  48, 1st full paragraph (begins "And thus...")
  • Assignment #6 ~ Due  Sept. 28
    Do an argument analysis of Leibniz, page 276, 1st full paragraph (begins "From these...")
  • Assignment #7 ~ Due Oct. 5
    Do an argument analysis of Leibniz, page 286, paragraph 17.
  • Assignment #8 ~ Due Oct. 19
    Do an argument analysis of Leibniz, page 235, 1st paragraph of section 3.
  • Assignment #9 ~ Due Nov. 9
    Do an argument analysis of Locke, page 13, 1st paragraph of section 5.
  • Assignment #10 ~ Due Nov. 16
    Do an argument analysis of Locke, page 85, section 9.
  • Assignment #11 ~ Due Nov. 23
    Do an argument analysis of Locke, page 173, section 25.
  •  Assignment #12 ~ Due Nov. 30
    Do an argument analysis of Locke, page 484, section 6.


For each exam, I will hand out a set of questions. You will answer two. Further instructions will be provided with the exam questions.


An essay question will be assigned to you.


I expect each student to read the assigned material before we discuss it in class. Each student will have read it, reflected on it, and will be prepared to talk about it. Students who meet these expectations will be rewarded if their final grade is in any way borderline.


If you submit your work the calendar day after it is due, it loses half its total grade on a 4.0 scale. The next day, it can do no better than a grade of D (1.0 on a 4.0 scale). After that, it receives a grade of F.

There is no make-up work. There is no extra-credit work.


If you anticipate that you cannot complete required work by its assigned deadline, you must contact me in advance and ask for an extension on its due date. Extensions of one day are automatically granted if the request is made (via written note, voice mail, or email) at least one day before the assigned due date. Extensions exceeding one day require that you talk to me personally about your situation so that we can negotiate a reasonable extension.
EXCEPTION: There are no extensions on argument summaries.


This is an upper level course. I will enforce the University's policies on student conduct. I expect all essays to conform to recognized standards of presentation, originality, and documentation of sources. For more information, click here.


Week 1 (Week beginning Aug. 23)
Galileo (in Ariew & Watkins)

Week 2  (Week beginning Aug. 30)
Descartes: Sorell, Chapters 1 - 9; Descartes, Discourse on Method

Week 3 (Week beginning Sept. 6)
Descartes: Sorell, Chapters 10 -12; Descartes, Meditations One and Two

Week 4 (Week beginning Sept. 13)
Descartes: Sorell, Chapter 13; Descartes, Meditations Three and Four

Week 5 (Week beginning Sept. 20)
Descartes: Sorell, Chapters 14 - 17; Descartes, Meditations Five and Six

Week 6 (Week beginning Sept. 27)
Leibniz, Primary Truths,  and Third and Fourth Letters to Clarke

Week 7 (Week beginning Oct. 4)
Leibniz: Monadology

Week 8 (Week beginning Oct. 11) (HOLIDAY on Oct. 12)
Leibniz: Letters to Arnauld

Week 9 (Week beginning Oct. 18)
Leibniz Discourse on Metaphysics

Week 10 (Week beginning Oct. 25)
Cultural History Week

Week 11 (Week beginning Nov. 1)
Leibniz: Continue discussion of Leibniz

Week 12 (Week beginning Nov. 8)
Locke: Read Dunn Chapter 1, Locke Book I

Week 13 (Week beginning Nov. 15)
Locke: Read Dunn Chapter, Locke Book II

Week 14 (Week beginning Nov. 22) (HOLIDAY on Nov. 25)

Locke: Continue discussion of Book II

Week 15 (Week beginning Nov. 29)

Locke: Read Book IV

Final Exam for PHIL 305 is at noon on Tuesday, Dec. 14

Notice of disability services 

The Minnesota State University of Moorhead is committed to a policy of equal opportunity in education and employment and welcomes students with disabilities. We are prepared to to offer you a range of services to accommodate your needs.

However, students must accept responsibility for initiating the request for services. 

Students with disabilities who believe they may need an accommodation in this class are encouraged to contact Greg Toutges, Coordinator of Disability Services at 477-2131 (Voice) or 1-800-627-3529 (MRS/TTY), CMU 114 as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion

Do not discuss your needs with me, your instructor. Talk to Greg and he will contact me.

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Last updated Aug. 24, 2010