Classical Modern Philosophy: A Contemporary Introduction

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Classical Modern Philosophy introduces students to the key philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and explores their most important works. Jeffrey Tlumak takes the reader on a chronological journey from Descartes to Kant, tracing the themes that run through the period and their interrelations. The main texts covered are: Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy, Spinoza's Ethics, Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Leibniz's Discourse on Metaphysics and Monadology, Berkeley's A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge and Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous, Hume's An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.

Classical Modern Philosophy: A Contemporary Introduction is the ideal textbook to accompany a course in the history of modern philosophy, but each chapter can also be studied alone as an introduction to the featured philosopher or work. Jeffrey Tlumak outlines and assesses prominent interpretations of the texts, and surveys the legacy of each great thinker.

About the Author:
Jeffrey Tlumak is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'This is the ideal text for undergraduate courses in early modern philosophy. Tlumak's account of these philosophers is accurate, thorough, and concise, and written in a clear and accessible style.' – James Baillie, University of Portland, USA

'The book is impressively researched and rich in detail. There are no books on the market that rival this in terms of breadth and depth. It will be crucial reading for those encountering the philosophy of the modern period for the first time, as well for more advanced students.' – Andrew Chignell, Cornell University, USA

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Tlumak is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.

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Table of Contents

Preface     xi
Acknowledgments     xiii
Descartes and the Rise of Modern Philosophy     1
Background to Descartes' Meditations     2
Descartes' innovations in how philosophy is written     10
Lead-in to the First Meditation     13
The First Meditation     15
The Second Meditation     22
The Third Meditation     32
The Fourth Meditation     38
The Fifth Meditation     47
The Sixth Meditation     59
A summary of Cartesian commitments     66
Topical highlights from Descartes' correspondence     69
Questions about Descartes     71
Transition to the remainder of the book     74
Some recommended books     75
Spinoza     77
Overview of Spinoza's philosophy and life     77
Ethics Part I: On the nature of the universe     80
Ethics Part II: On the nature and origin of the mind     88
Ethics Part III: On the nature and origin of actions and passions     95
Ethics Part IV: On the burdens of human existence and the ways to overcome them     98
Ethics Part V: On the power of reason to liberate us to live blessedly     100
Questions aboutSpinoza     102
Some recommended books     104
Locke     106
An overview of Locke's outlook in the Essay     106
Essay Book I: Locke's anti-innatist strategy     109
Essay Book II: Perception as the basis for all thinking     110
Test Case One: Thinking about power     114
Test Case Two: Thinking about substance     116
Test Case Three: Thinking about identity     118
Essay Book III: Expressing thought in language     122
Essay Book IV: Knowledge and opinion     125
Questions about Locke     128
Some recommended books     131
Leibniz     133
Background to Leibniz's philosophy     133
Overview of Leibniz's philosophy     136
How the Discourse on Metaphysics and the Monadology are structured     138
Understanding Leibniz's metaphysics by way of his defense of contingency     141
Understanding the debate about what things for Leibniz are substances     155
Understanding the debate about Leibniz's essentialism     158
Understanding what it means for the world to be the best possible     159
Understanding debates about relations among key Leibnizian theses     164
Space and time as relations among phenomena     166
Key elements of Leibniz's epistemology     169
Questions about Leibniz     171
Some recommended books     173
Berkeley     174
Overview of approach to the Principles     174
Structure of the Principles     176
A fuller analysis of four key arguments     180
Structure of the Three Dialogues     186
A mini-glossary to aid interpretation     189
Questions about Berkeley     190
Some recommended books     191
Hume     193
Main alternatives for interpreting Hume     193
An outline of the first Enquiry     195
Enquiry Sections I-III: Basic principles and materials of the understanding     196
Enquiry Sections IV-VII: The basis for all factual thinking     199
Enquiry Section VIII: Implications for freedom and morality     201
Enquiry Section X: Implications for religion based on miracles     205
Treatise: Overview and key elements of Book I, on the understanding     208
A famous perplexity about how to read Treatise Book I     213
Treatise: Key elements of Book II, on the passions     221
Treatise: Key elements of Book III, on morality     225
Dialogues: Overview and stage-setting Part I     226
Dialogues Parts II-VIII: Design argument for natural religion     230
Dialogues Part IX: Cosmological, a priori proof of theism     232
Dialogues Parts X-XI: Evil as challenge to theism     234
Dialogues Part XII: Guides to deciding Hume's overall message     237
Questions about Hume     238
Some recommended books     242
Kant     244
The central strand of Kant's argument     244
A precis of the Critique of Pure Reason     249
Prefaces and Introduction: Clarifying the project     250
Transcendental Aesthetic: How we receive data     254
Transcendental Analytic: How we understand data     258
Transcendental Dialectic: How we fundamentally misapply thought     278
Exploration of pivotal stages of Kant's argument     291
My general orientation to the Critique     291
A fuller analysis of introductory material     295
A fuller analysis of the Aesthetic     300
A fuller analysis of the Analytic of Concepts     303
A fuller analysis of the Analytic of Principles     312
The transition from the Analytic to the Dialectic     320
A fuller analysis of the Transcendental Dialectic      324
The transition from theoretical to practical philosophy     330
The philosophical foundations for moral theory     333
Kant on philosophical method     342
The Prolegomena's relation to the Critique     343
Questions about Kant     345
Some recommended books     348
Bibliography     353
Index     357
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