Summer 2021 - PHIL 356 D100

18th Century Philosophy (3)

Class Number: 4051

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM

    We 12:30 PM – 1:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    One of PHIL 150 or 151.



An examination of some central issues of 18th century philosophy. Themes may include the development of the theory of ideas and epistemology associated with it. The primary focus may include important figures such as Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Condillac. Students with credit for PHIL 355 prior to Fall 2006 may not take this course for further credit.


The early modern period is among the most fruitful and exciting period in the history of philosophy, and it is characterized by philosophers’ attempt to reconcile traditional philosophical positions on the nature of substance, causality, the nature of the mind, God, and others (some of them as old as Plato and Aristotle) with the stunning advances in scientific explanation that began in the 16th century. Some 18th-century philosophers saw the way forward through the development of idealism: the position that the physical world is dependent upon the nature and actions of the mind. Only in this way, they thought, could we explain the success of natural science, and only in this way, they thought, could we secure and preserve the traditional philosophical doctrines seemingly threatened by natural science. Other 18th-century philosophers approached this apparent conflict with a deep skepticism about the meaningfulness and usefulness of the traditional metaphysical categories, arguing instead that the way forward involved abandoning our traditional philosophical methodology altogether.

We shall begin with some brief 17th-century philosophical background, including a quick overview of Leibniz’s idealism and Locke’s materialist realism. Our study of the 18th century shall begin in earnest with a look at Berkeley’s immaterialism: the view that matter does not exist. We shall turn next to Hume’s attack on traditional metaphysics. We shall close by studying Kant’s Prolegomena, in which Kant aims to establish an idealism distinct from Berkeley’s and yet one that is responsive to Hume’s skepticism about traditional metaphysics.

Watch a course presentation with Dr. Heide: PHIL 356


This course may be applied towards the Writing Requirement. 


  • • Two medium-length papers (1500 words minimum): 25% each 50%
  • • One longer final paper (3000 words minimum) 50%


Course delivery: remote, synchronous. Attendance is not a component of student grades, but attendance at all sessions is highly recommended.



Students must have access to the internet and a computer or other device that permits streaming video, word processing and teleconferencing with Zoom.



  • Berkeley, George. Principles of Human Knowledge and Three Dialogues (Robinson, ed.) Oxford UP. ISBN: 9780199555178.
  • Hume, David. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. (Steinberg, ed.) Hackett. ISBN: 9780872202290.
  • Kant, Immanuel. Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. (Hatfield, ed.). Cambridge. ISBN: 9780521435359.

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   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

New elective grade policy : P/CR/NC, pilot project for Spring/Summer/Fall 2021. List of exclusions for the new policy. Specifically for Philosophy: 

  • Students can use a P or CR to satisfy any requirement for a major, joint major, or minor in Philosophy (with the exception of Honours tutorials).
  • Students can use a P or CR to satisfy any prerequisite requirement for any PHIL course.
  • Students can use a P (but not a CR) to satisfy any requirement for the Ethics Certificate, or the Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate.
  • Philosophy Majors and Honours students can use a P (but not a CR) to satisfy any WQB requirement.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.


Teaching at SFU in summer 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods, but we will continue to have in-person experiential activities for a selection of courses.  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 ( or 778-782-3112).