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Jeffrey K. McDonough

Professor of Philosophy

Courses

G.W. Leibniz, Brevis Demonstratio …,
Acta Eruditorum
, Leipzig 1686.


I regularly offer the following lecture coures as well as graduate seminars in early modern philosophy and a Latin reading group.

Regularly Offered Lecture Courses

Culture and Belief 31: Saints, Heretics and Atheists: An Historical Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, Harvard University Syllabus
This course offers an introduction to the history of intellectual reflection on religion and belief in the western tradition.  We’ll read roughly a half dozen perennial works drawn from authors ranging from Augustine of Hippo to William James.  Along the way, we’ll think, discuss, and write about such topics as the nature of sin, the origin of evil, the fall of the devil, the attributes of God, the argument from design, and the relationship between religion and morality.

Philosophy 117: Medieval Philosophy, Harvard University Syllabus

Dismissed by Petrarch as the “dark ages,” and still often overlooked today, the medieval period included some of the most profound thinkers in the history of western philosophy. In this course we will examine three of its great traditions, Platonism, Scholastic-Aristotelianism, and Nominalism, through the works of their most important proponents, Augustine, Aquinas and Ockam. Specific topics will include skepticism, knowledge, human nature, divine nature, language, realism, conceptualism, and happiness.


Philosophy 120: Early Modern Rationalism, Harvard University Syllabus
The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were among the most exciting and revolutionary periods in the history of philosophy.  Among the most prominent philosophers working in that period, Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz have traditionally been grouped together under the label “Continental Rationalists” in virtue of their embrace of systematic metaphysics and emphasis on rational reflection as a source of knowledge. This course aims to provide an overview of the development of early modern rationalism while exploring in some detail a number of central issues, arguments and controversies.  Topics will include philosophical methodology, skepticism, knowledge, substance, mind-body relations, and the metaphysical foundations of science. 

Philosophy 122: Early Modern Empiricism, Harvard University Syllabus
The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were among the most exciting and revolutionary periods in the history of philosophy.  Among the most prominent philosophers working in that period, Locke, Berkeley and Hume have traditionally been grouped together under the label “British Empiricists” in virtue of their rejection of innate ideas and emphasis on experience as a source of knowledge.  This course aims to provide an overview of the development of early modern empiricism while exploring in some detail a number of central issues, arguments and controversies.  Topics will include, among others, the theory of ideas, the nature of body, personal identity, human agency, skepticism, and naturalism.

Recent Seminars

Philosophy 224: Early Modern Philosophy
Syllabus
Graduage level seminar on infinity in early modern philosophy (co-taught with Anat Schechtman).

Philosophy 320: Philosophy in Translation - Latin,

A close reading of philosophical texts in their original Latin language with the aim of developing reading and translation skills.

   
 
 
   
 

   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
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© 2012 Jeffrey K. McDonough