Spring 2021 - PHIL 451W E100
Advanced Topics in the History of Philosophy (4)
Class Number: 2192
Delivery Method: Remote
May be repeated for credit. Writing.
Selected Topics: Kant’s Metaphysics/Kant's First Critique
[Note: this course is to be taught concurrently with PHIL 854.]It is customary to divide Immanuel Kant’s philosophical work into the “pre-critical” period and the “critical” period, and the division is marked by the appearance of the first edition of the Critique of Pure Reason in 1781. Kant’s pre-critical works are characterized by a set of metaphysical views about traditional topics (e.g., modality, substance, causality, God) underwritten by a rationalism that guarantees the intelligibility of the cosmos. But in the critical period, Kant counts among his signature achievements a non-dogmatic epistemology that appears to severely limit the reach and content of metaphysics. Famously, Kant claims in 1781 that human cognition reaches only the “appearances” of things and leaves untouched “things in themselves.” Most interpreters have taken the Critique of Pure Reason and its “epistemological turn” to constitute a decisive break with Kant’s pre-critical rationalist metaphysics and have taken Kant to deny that any “transcendent metaphysics” is possible. However, a good deal of recent work has shown that the true story is not so simple. Many pre-critical doctrines survive in modified form in the Critique of Pure Reason, and there is significant evidence that Kant remained committed to significant systematic claims about the nature of things in themselves. Our general aim shall be to understand the entire scope of Kant’s metaphysics, from 1755 to 1787. In particular, we shall aim to understand the relation between these two periods in Kant’s thought, and to understand what role, if any, there is for metaphysics in Kant’s critical period.
We shall spend roughly the first third of the course tracing the development of Kant’s metaphysical views in the early part of his career. We will begin with Kant’s New Elucdation of the First Principles of Metaphysical Cognition (1755), in which he aims to undermine Leibniz’s basic cosmological views and defend an interactive cosmology. We shall then turn to The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God (1763), in which Kant aims to reject the traditional ontological argument and offer instead an argument for God’s existence based on an actualist account of modality and a distinction, novel in his own time, between logical and metaphysical modality. Finally, we shall read Kant’s Inaugural Dissertation (1770), a key transitional text that combines intellectual cognition of the intelligible world with the mind-dependence of space and time and the phenomenality of the empirical world. In the second half of the course, we shall be occupied primarily with selections from Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1781 and 1787), and we will focus on Kant’s account of space and time, his mature accounts of modality and cognition, and his accounts of causality, freedom, and God. We shall supplement our study of the Critique of Pure Reason with unpublished writings from Kant’s lectures and his fragments.
COURSE-LEVEL EDUCATIONAL GOALS:
PHIL 451W may be applied towards the Writing Requirement (and the upper division Writing Requirement for Philosophy Majors). This course may be repeated for credit if the topic is different. Students that have taken PHIL 451W in Fall 2012, 2014, 2016, or 2018, may not take this Spring 2021 offering for further credit.
- 6 short response papers (300 – 600 words) 25%
- One of: Option A, or Option B - see explanation below 75%
- One of the following options:
- Option A
- One final paper (3600 words minimum) with required draft, due at the end of the semester: 75%
- Option A
- Option B
- One medium-length paper (1500 words minimum) due roughly halfway through the semester: 25%
- One final paper (2500 words minimum) with required draft, due at the end of the semester: 50%
- Option B
Course delivery: remote, synchronous (Zoom meetings). Online presence during scheduled time is not required but is strongly encouraged.
MATERIALS + SUPPLIES:
Students must have access to internet and a computer/other device that permits streaming video, word processing and teleconferencing with Zoom.
- Kant, Critique of Pure Reason. Guyer and Wood (eds.). Cambridge UP. ISBN: 978-0521657297
- Kant, Theoretical Philosophy 1755 – 1770. Walford and Meerbote (eds.). Cambridge UP. ISBN: 978-0521531702
- We will also read various scholarly articles and selections from some of Kant’s other works. These will be available on Canvas or through the SFU Library website.
Department Undergraduate Notes:
Thinking of a Philosophy Major or Minor? The Concentration in Law and Philosophy? The Certificate in Ethics? The Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate?
Contact the PHIL Advisor at email@example.com More details on our website: SFU Philosophy
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TEACHING AT SFU IN SPRING 2021
Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (firstname.lastname@example.org or 778-782-3112).