Modern Philosophy 1

Paper 1

Instructions

Write a paper of 1400–1600 words on one of the topics below. 

No particular style of references is required. However, if you need a guide, I suggest that you consult Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Whatever style you choose, be sure to give precise references, including such things as page numbers and URLs where appropriate.

Information on the standards for grading papers are available: Paper grading guide

Questions

1. In a letter to Elizabeth, Leibniz criticized Descartes’s ontological argument. (That letter is available at http://library.nlx.com/xtf/view?docId=rationalists/rationalists.05.xml;chunk.id=div.leibniz.pes.1035;toc.depth=1;toc.id=div.leibniz.pes.36;brand=default (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..) In your paper, explain and critically discuss those criticisms.

2. In his Objections to the Meditations, Hobbes criticized Descartes’s Third Meditation argument for the existence of God. (Hobbes’s Objections and Descartes’s Replies are available at http://library.nlx.com/xtf/view?docId=rationalists/rationalists.02.xml;chunk.id=div.descartes.v2.20;toc.depth=1;toc.id=div.descartes.v2.14;brand=default (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..) In your paper, explain and critically discuss those criticisms.

Further notes

It is certainly possible to answer these questions just by reading and thinking about the primary texts. However, if you want to go beyond that, a good place to start is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

To find further relevant items, you might try PhilPapers (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. or the Philosopher’s Index (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (will require you to be on the campus network).

If you’re looking for other texts, a good source is the Past Masters database (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (will require you to be on the campus network). Within Past Masters, the Continental Rationalists collection has good translations of the works of Descartes.

Finally, if the language of the texts is puzzling, you might try looking at the versions athttp://www.earlymoderntexts.com (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., which presents “versions of some classics of early modern philosophy … prepared with a view to making them easier to read while leaving intact the main arguments, doctrines, and lines of thought”.