Early Modern Philosophy: Essential Readings with Commentary / Edition 1

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Part of the Blackwell Readings in the History of Philosophy series, this survey of early modern philosophy focuses on the key texts and philosophers of the period whose beliefs changed the course of western thought. Assembles the key texts from the most significant and influential philosophers of the early modern era to provide a thorough introduction to the period. Features the writings of the major philosophical, scientific, and political thinkers of the time, including Descartes, Hobbes, Leibniz and Spinoza. Focuses on the development and growth of Rationalism which stressed reason, logic, and experimentation in the pursuit of truth. Readings are accompanied by expert commentary from the editors, who are leading scholars in the field.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Early Modern Philosophy focuses on the rationalist tradition in Western Philosophy from Descartes through Leibniz. Its overall structure, selections, and introductory materials testify to Martinich’s skills as a teacher and as a student of the period. Especially striking is its sensitivity to the scientific, religious, and political contexts in which the works were written and read. The introductions are extremely clear and philosophically astute.” Michael Morgan, Indiana University

“This is a very useful anthology of early modern texts that offers generous selections from the writings of the rationalists while also including works related to early modern science and political philosophy.” Tad M. Schmaltz, Duke University

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Product Details

Meet the Author

A. P. Martinich is the Roy Allison Vaughan Centennial Professor of Philosophy and Professor of History and Government at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author or editor of many books, including Hobbes (2005), Philosophical Writing (3rd edn., 2005), and The Philosophy of Language (5th edn., 2007).

Fritz Allhoff is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Western Michigan University. His main areas of research are ethical theory, applied ethics, and the philosophy of biology/science. His work has been published in, among other places, the American Journal of Bioethics, the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, the International Journal of Applied Philosophy, and the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal.

Anand Jayprakash Vaidya is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at San José State University. His research is in metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind.

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Table of Contents



General Introduction.

Part I: Science, Skepticism, and Religion.


1. The Apology for Raymond Sebond: Michel de Montaigne.

2. The New Organon: Francis Bacon.

3. Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina and The Assayer: Galileo Galilei.

4. Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking for Truth in the Sciences: René Descartes.

5. Leviathan: Thomas Hobbes.

6. Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy: Isaac Newton.

Part II: Descartes and his Critics.


7. The Meditations on First Philosophy: René Descartes.

8. The Second Set of Objections with Replies by Descartes: collected by Marin Mersenne.

9. The Third Set of Objections with Replies by Descartes: Thomas Hobbes.

10. The Fourth Set of Objections with Replies by Descartes: Antoine Arnauld.

11. The Fifth Set of Objections with Replies by Descartes: Pierre Gassendi.

12. Letters to and from Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia.

13. Pensées: Blaise Pascal.

Part III: Rationalism.


14. The Ethics: Benedict Spinoza.

15. The Search After Truth: Nicolas Malebranche.

16. Discourse on Metaphysics: G. W. F. Leibniz.

17. The Theodicy: Abridgement of the Argument: G. W. F. Leibniz.

18. The Monadology: G. W. F. Leibniz.

Part IV: Political Philosophy.


19. The Prince: Niccolò Machiavelli.

20. Leviathan: Thomas Hobbes.

21. On the Duty of Man and Citizen: Samuel Pufendorf.

Further Reading.


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