PHIL 522 A: Seminar In Modern Philosophy

Meeting Time: 
W 3:30pm - 5:20pm
Location: 
SAV 408
SLN: 
19722
Instructor:
Michael A. Rosenthal

Syllabus Description:

Seminar in Modern Philosophy: Spinoza’s Ethics (PHIL 522)

Autumn Quarter 2016, W 3:30-5:50pm, Savery 408

Prof. Michael Rosenthal                                                                               

Office: Savery 364

Phone: (206) 685-2655

E-mail: rosentha@uw.edu

Home Page: https://phil.washington.edu/people/michael-rosenthal

Canvas Webpage: https://canvas.uw.edu/courses/1068763

Office hours: Tuesdays, 11am-12pm; Wednesdays 2-3pm; and by appointment.

                                                                             

COURSE DESCRIPTION

In this course students will study the development and structure of Spinoza's philosophical system. We will begin with selections from Spinoza's early works, which include a treatise on philosophical method, a summary and analysis of the Cartesian system, and a critique of religion. We will spend most of our time on a careful reading of the Ethics, which presents Spinoza's mature views on metaphysics, epistemology, psychology, and the ethical life. We will analyze his arguments in detail, compare them to those of his contemporaries (e.g., Descartes, Hobbes, Leibniz), and discuss the influence and relevance of Spinoza's work to contemporary philosophical projects.

INSTRUCTION

I envision the format of the course as follows. It will meet once a week as a seminar. Except for the first class, in which I will give an introductory lecture, the subsequent sessions will be a combination of lecture and discussion, focused on a brief student presentation. In each class, my own talk will aim to give some background information—for example, trying to show what debates Spinoza might have been involved in—and to underline the themes I hope the students will discuss. Each student presentation will be based on a short, written paper that will be due a few days before class and which all students will have been expected to read ahead of time. The central text of the course will of course be the Ethics, but I will also insist that we read other contemporary texts that (either definitely or probably) influenced Spinoza, as well as important secondary sources produced by outstanding modern scholars. (Although much important work has been done by European scholars, I will assign only English-language texts in this course, with other texts, especially those in French, only recommended for those who have the language skills.)

ASSIGNMENTS AND GRADING

A total of 400 points are possible in this class. The weekly essays and comment are worth 125 points and all the components of the final essay are worth 275 points. A grading scale will be distributed in class as a guideline. Final grades will be determined on the basis of this scale and adjustment in terms of overall class performance.

 

  1. Weekly Essays.

a) Each Wednesday I will distribute an essay topic, which will focus on a particular issue or argument in the text. Each student must write a short (around 3 page) essay on the topic, due by 12pm on Monday, which should be submitted to the appropriate assignment page on the course Canvas webpage.  

Please note that late papers will not be accepted for credit. The paper will be graded as unsatisfactory (5 points), satisfactory (8 points), or good (10 points). There will be nine occasions to turn in an essay. You will be given 10 points for just showing up the first week. A total of 100 points will be possible for this assignment.

b) Each week one paper will be the topic of discussion. Each student in the class will choose one week in the quarter in which he or she will be responsible for a longer paper (about 5-6 pages) that will be the basis of class discussion. The student will be expected to summarize some relevant debate in the secondary literature and evaluate the debate. This paper will be circulated to the other students before class and all class members will be responsible for reading it.

One student ("the discussant") each week will be assigned the task of critiquing the assigned paper. The discussant will be responsible for analyzing the philosophical content of the essay (i.e., the interpretation of the relevant passages, argument, objections, etc.). The discussant will summarize his or her comments in writing (about one page in length) and at the end of class will give a copy to both the author of the essay and the professor. All other students are also expected to have read the chosen essay and be ready to discuss it in depth. Completion of this task is worth a maximum of 15 points. 

  1. Final Essay. Each student will be required to write a twelve to fifteen page essay on a topic of his or her choice. This essay will not be written the night before it is due! All parts of this assignment should be electronically uploaded to the appropriate assignment page on the course Canvas site. The following is the schedule of assignments each student must meet to pass this requirement: 

a) Topic Statement with Annotated Bibliography. Due Wednesday, November 23rd (Week 8). You must turn in a brief statement of the projected topic of the paper that states: i) the problem you propose to discuss; ii) your tentative thesis; and iii) a brief sketch of the argument you will make. In addition, I expect an annotated bibliography that cites at least three sources (books, articles, etc.) with a brief presentation of how the author in each case addresses your proposed topic (i.e., brief outline of the argument, interpretation, etc.). Completion of this assignment is worth a maximum of 25 points. 

b) Outline. Due Wednesday, November 30th (Week 9). You must turn in a complete outline of your paper. It is to include: i) a full presentation of your topic (including problem and thesis); ii) a detailed, point by point, presentation of your argument (including references to the specific primary and secondary texts that support your points); iii) possible objections to your argument; iv) your response to the objections; and v) conclusion. Completion of this assignment is worth a maximum of 25 points. 

c) Preliminary Draft and Abstract. Due Wednesday, December 7th (Week 10). This should be a complete draft of your essay. Please hand in two At the same time, you must also turn in an abstract of your essay (one page or less in length). This should be a summary of your thesis, argument, and conclusion. Make enough copies of your abstract to distribute one to each of your fellow students and one to me. Completion of this assignment is worth a maximum of 100 points.

d) Comments. Due Monday, December June 12th (Week 11). You will be given the preliminary draft one of your fellow student's essays upon which you will be expected to comment in depth. I expect comments on both the style and the content of the essay. These are to be both critical and constructive comments: How can the essay be improved? You are to write up your comments, which should be no more than two pages and no less than one page in length (double-spaced). Make two copies of your comments; send one of them to me and the other to the author via e-mail. Completion of this assignment is worth a maximum of 35 points.

e) Paper Conference. Wednesday, December 14th, [Time to be arranged]. The conference will be devoted to a presentation and discussion of paper topics. Each author will give a five-minute, prepared presentation of his or her paper. This need not be a summary (each student will already have read the abstract) but might focus on one or two key points. The assigned commentator will then give a five minute response, in which he or she will address the points raised by the author's presentation or some other interesting aspect of the paper. There will then be time for questions and reactions from the other students. Participation in the paper conference is worth a maximum of 25 points.

f) Final Draft. Due Friday, December 16th, at noon. In your final draft I expect you to revise your essay in light of all the comments (both regarding style and content) you received. Of course you are not restricted to these comments alone. In the two weeks between handing in the preliminary and final draft, you will hopefully be thinking yourself how to improve the final product. Grading of the final draft will be based on both the quality of the completed work and also the extent to which you have improved the rough draft. Completion of this assignment is worth a maximum of 75 points.

For each day that you are late in completing any one of the requirements of the final essay, your grade will automatically be reduced by 10 points. 

  1. Participation. I expect all students to participate actively in class discussion. In determining your final grade, especially if it is on a borderline, I will consider the quality of your regular participation, and improvement over the semester. In other words, I reserve the right to adjust the final grade above or below what is indicated by your final point score on the basis of participation and effort.

 

Nota Bene: (1) Cheating in any form (including plagiarism, of course) will result in automatic referral to the Dean’s office. You are assumed to understand the university rules concerning inappropriate academic conduct. Please see the Student code and the following website for information: https://depts.washington.edu/grading/pdf/AcademicResponsibility.pdf. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the instructor.

(2) In order to pass this course students are required to: a) have enough total points (i.e., at least 212 points); and also b) receive passing grades in both major components of the course, i.e., at least 67 points in the weekly writing assignments (including comments), and at least 146 points total from the various components of the final essay. If you have enough total points to pass but do not receive pass both the weekly assignments and the final essay you will fail the course. Absolutely no exceptions will be made to this policy.

Disabled Student Services. If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disability Resources for Students, 011 Mary Gates Hall, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY). Here is a link to their website: http://depts.washington.edu/uwdrs/. If you have a letter from DRS indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to me at the beginning of the course so we can discuss the accommodations you might need for the class.

 

BOOKS

The following primary texts are required and is available for purchase in the UW Bookstore:

-Spinoza, Baruch.. A Spinoza Reader: The Ethics and Other Works. Edwin Curley, editor. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (Abbreviated below as SR.)

The following primary and secondary texts are strongly recommended:

-Spinoza, Baruch. Theological-Political Treatise. Trans. Samuel Shirley. Indianapolis: Hackett Press, 1998. (Abbreviated as TTP.)

-Curley, Edwin. Behind the Geometrical Method: A Reading of Spinoza's Ethics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988.

-Della Rocca, Michael. Spinoza. New York: Routledge,

-Garrett, Don, editor. The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Abbreviated as Companion.)

-Koistinen, Olli, editor. The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza’s Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Abbreviated as CCE.)

 

CLASS SCHEDULE

(Please note: This is a guide to class preparation. I reserve the right to modify or change the class schedule as necessary.)

 

W 9/28             Life and Early Work

 

Primary: SR, 3-6, 48-77

Secondary: Companion, chapter 1

Recommended: Nadler, Life; Yovel, vol. 1, chapters 1-3.

 

                        Critique of Scripture

Primary: SR, 6-48, TTP, Preface, ch. 3-7.

Secondary: Companion, chapters 8 and 9; CCE, chs. 1-2.

Recommended: Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 12, and all of part III; Donagan, ch. 2; Gatens & Lloyd, ch. 1 (also 87-100); Strauss (1988), 142-202.

 

W 10/5            Ethics, Part I (Of God) -- Substance and Attributes

Primary: SR, 85-100 (E1 definitions, axioms, E1p1-p20).

Secondary: Companion, chapter 2. Curley (1988), ch. 1. Della Rocca, ch. 1, ch. 2, sections 1-4; Melamed, chs. 1-2.

Recommended: SR, 77-84; Descartes, Principles, pt. I, articles 51-54 (CSM I, 210-11); Leibniz, 207-8, 213-14; Donagan, chs. 4-5; CCE, chs. 2-3.

 

W 10/12          [Please note that we will have to change this meeting time and date due to conflict with a religious holiday. The proposed time is Friday, 10/14 at 3:30pm in Savery 408.]

Ethics, Part I (Of God) -- Modes: Infinite and Finite

Primary: SR, 100-109 (E1p20-p36), 269-276 (correspondence with Tschirnhaus).

Recommended: Descartes, Principles, I, 56-62 (CSM I, 211-14); Curley (1988), ch. 1; Della Rocca, ch. 2, sections 4; Donagan, ch. 6; Melamed, ch. 3-4.

 

W 10/19          Ethics, Part I (Of God) -- Necessity and Contingency

Primary: SR, 100-114 (E1p20-p36, E1appendix), 266-269 (correspondence with Tschirnhaus).

Secondary: Companion, ch. 2 (pages 74-76); Curley (1988), 48-50; CCE, ch. 6.

Recommended: Leibniz, 272-84, 60-64, 111-117; Curley (1969), ch. 3; Bennett, ch. 5; Della Rocca, ch. 2, sections 5-6; Garrett (1991); Gatens & Lloyd, ch. 1 (especially 28-33).

 

W 10/26          Ethics, Part II (Of the Mind) -- The Mind-Body Union

Primary: SR, 115-128 (E2 preface, definitions, axioms, E2p1-p15).

Secondary: Companion, chapters 3 and 4.

Recommended: Descartes, Meditations, VI (CSM II, 50-62); Curley (1988), ch. 2; Bennett, chs. 6-7; Della Rocca, ch. 3, sections 1-4; Melamed, ch. 5.

 

W 11/2            Ethics, Part II (Of the Mind) -- Theory of Knowledge and Error

Primary: SR, 128-152 (E2p16-p49).

Secondary: Companion, ch. 3; CCE, ch. 7.

Recommended: Descartes, Meditations IV (CSM II, 37-43); Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 6; Donagan, ch. 7; Curley (1975); Della Rocca, ch. 3, sections 5-7; Gatens & Lloyd, ch. 1.

 

W 11/9             Ethics, Part III (Of the Affects) -- Conatus and the Definition of the Affects

Primary: SR, 152-162 (E3 preface, definitions, axioms, postulates, E3p1-p13).

Secondary: Companion, chapter 5; CCE, ch. 8.

Recommended: Descartes, Passions of the Soul, preface, Part I (CSM I, 326-48); Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 6; Curley (1988), ch. 3; Donagan, ch. 8; Bennett, chs. 9-10; Della Rocca, ch. 4; Gatens & Lloyd, 100-107.

 

                        Ethics, Part III (Of the Affects) -- The Structure of the Affective Life

Primary: SR, 162-197(E3p14-p59, definitions of the affects, general definition of the affects).

Secondary: CCE, ch. 9.

Recommended: Descartes, Passions of the Soul, Part II (CSM I, 349-382); Hobbes, Leviathan, chs. 10-11; Bennett, ch. 11.

 

W 11/16          Ethics, Part IV (Of Human Bondage) -- Human Limitations and Sociability

Primary: SR, 197-218 (E4 preface, definitions, axioms, E4p1-p36).

Secondary: Companion, chapter 6; Theological-Political Treatise, ch. 16.

Recommended: Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 13; Bennett, ch. 12; Della Rocca, ch. 5; Donagan, ch. 9; Gatens & Lloyd, ch. 4.

 

W 11/23          Topic Statement with Annotated Bibliography Due

Ethics, Part IV (Of Human Bondage) -- Politics and the Free Man

Primary: SR, 218-244 (E4p37-p73, appendix).

Secondary: Companion, chapter 7; CCE, ch. 10

Recommended: Hobbes, Leviathan, chapters 10-17; Garrett (1990); Bennett, ch. 13; Gatens & Lloyd, chs. 2, 3, & 6.

 

W 11/30          Outline Due

Ethics, Part V (Of Human Freedom) -- Mastering the Affects

Primary: SR, 244-255 (E5 preface, axioms, E5p1-p20).

Secondary: Companion, selections from chapters 3, 6, and 8; CCE, ch. 11.

Recommended: Descartes, Passions of the Soul, Part I, article 50, Part III (CSM I, 348, 383-404); Bennett, ch. 14.

 

W 12/7            Preliminary Draft and Abstract Due

Ethics, Part V (Of Human Freedom) -- Amor Dei Intellectualis and the Eternity of the Mind

Primary: SR, 255-265 (E5p21-p42).

Secondary: CCE, ch. 11 & ch. 13.

Recommended: Donagan, ch. 10; Bennett, ch. 15; Curley (1988), 83-86; Nadler (2001).

 

                        Spinoza's Influence

Secondary: Companion, chapter 10.

Recommended: Gatens & Lloyd, ch. 6.

M 12/12           Comments on Paper Due (please e-mail to author and instructor)

W 12/14          PAPER CONFERENCE

F 12/16            Final Paper Due at Noon.

 

ADDITIONAL BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Sources

Aquinas, St. Thomas. Introduction to Saint Thomas Aquinas. Ed. Anton C. Pegis. New York: The Modern Library, Random House, 1948.

Bayle, Pierre. Historical and Critical Dictionary: Selections. Trans. Richard H. Popkin. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1965.

Descartes, René. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. Volumes I & II, Trans. Trans. J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, and D. Murdoch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984. [Available electronically in “The Continental Rationalists” (Intelex Past Masters Series) via the UW Library]

___. Philosophical Letters. Trans. and Ed. Anthony Kenny. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1981.

___. The Passions of the Soul. Trans. Stephan H. Voss. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 1989.

Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. Ed. Edwin Curley. Indianapolis: Hackett Press, 1994.

___. Man and Citizen. Ed. Bernard Gert. New York: Anchor Books, 1972.

Leibniz, G.W. Philosophical Essays. Ed. and Trans. Roger Ariew, and Daniel Garber. Indianapolis: Hackett Press, 1989.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy. Trans. Leslie J. Walker, ed. with an introduction by Bernard Crick, with revisions by Brian Richardson. Harmonsworth, England: Penguin Books, 1983

___. The Prince. Ed. and trans. Harvey C. Mansfield Jr. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.   

Nietzsche, Friedrich W. The Portable Nietzsche. Ed. and trans. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Penguin Books, 1976.

*Spinoza, Baruch.   The Collected Works. Volume 1, Ed. and trans. Edwin Curley. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985. (B3958 .S64 1985 v.1)

*___. The Letters. Trans. Samuel Shirley. Indianapolis: Hackett Press, 1995. (B3958 .S45 1995)

*___. Political Treatise. Trans. Samuel Shirley. Indianapolis: Hackett Press, 2000. (In B3958 .S55 2002)

*___. Theological-Political Treatise. Trans. Samuel Shirley. Indianapolis: Hackett Press, 1998. (B3985.E5 S4513 2001).

 

Selected Secondary Sources

Allison, Henry. Benedict de Spinoza: An Introduction. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987.

*Bennett, Jonathan. A Study of Spinoza's Ethics. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1984. (B3974 .B46 1984)

*Curley, Edwin. Behind the Geometrical Method: A Reading of Spinoza’s Ethics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988. (B3974 .C87 1988)

___. "Descartes, Spinoza and the Ethics of Belief." In Mandelbaum and Freeman (1975), 159-190.

___. Spinoza's Metaphysics. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969.

Curley, E. & Moreau, P.-F. eds. Spinoza: Issues and Directions. Leiden: Brill, 1990.

Deleuze, Gilles. Spinoza: Practical Philosophy. Trans. Robert Hurley. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1988.

___.  Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza. New York: Zone Books, 1990.

*Della Rocca, Michael. Spinoza. London: Routledge, 2008. (B3998 .D45 2008)

*Donagan, Alan. Spinoza. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988. (B3998 .D66 1989)

Garber, Daniel. Descartes’ Metaphysical Physics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

*Garrett, Don. The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. (B3998 .C32 1996)

___. "'A Free Man Always Acts Honestly, Not Deceptively': Freedom and the Good in Spinoza's Ethics." In Curley and Moreau, Spinoza: Issues and Directions (1990), 221-238.

___. “Spinoza’s Necessitarianism.” In Y. Yovel, ed. God and Nature: Spinoza’s Metaphysics, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1991.

*Gatens, Moira, and Lloyd, Genevieve. Collective Imaginings: Spinoza, Past and Present. London and New York: Routledge, 1999. (On Order)

Grene, Marjorie, ed. Spinoza: A Collection of Critical Essays. South Bend, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1979.

Grene, Marjorie, and Nails, Debra (eds.), Spinoza and the Sciences. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Co., 1986.

Hampshire, Stuart. Spinoza. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books, 1951.

Huenemann, Charlie. Interpreting Spinoza: Critical Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Kennington, Richard, ed. The Philosophy of Baruch Spinoza. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1980.    

Kisner, Matthew J. Spinoza on Human Freedom: Reason, Autonomy, and the Good Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. (JC585 .K57 2011; also available as an e-book)

*Koistinen, Olli, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza’s Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. (B3974 .C36 2009)

Lachterman, David R. "The Physics of Spinoza's Ethics." In Shahan and Biro, 71-112.

LeBuffe, Michael. From Bondage to Freedom: Spinoza on Human Excellence. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Mandelbaum M., and Freeman E. (eds.). Spinoza: Essays in Interpretation. LaSalle, Illinois: Open Court Publishing Co., 1975.

Mason, Richard. The God of Spinoza: A Philosophical Study. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Melamed, Yitzhak Y. Spinoza’s Metaphysics: Substance and Thought. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Montag, Warren. Bodies, Masses, Power: Spinoza and his Contemporaries. London: Verso, 1999.

*Montag, Warren, and Stolze, Ted, eds. The New Spinoza. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. (B3998 .N45 1997)

*Nadler, Steven. Spinoza: A Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. (B3997 .N33 1999)

*Nadler, Steven. Spinoza’s Ethics: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. (B3974 .N28 2006)

Nadler, Steve. Spinoza’s Heresy: Immortality and the Jewish Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Negri, Antonio. The Savage Anomaly. Trans. Michael Hardt. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991

Neu, Jerome. Emotion, Thought, and Therapy. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977.

Popkin, Richard. The History of Scepticism From Erasmus to Spinoza. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1979.

Shahan, R. & Biro, J.I. Spinoza: New Perspectives. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980.

Strauss, Leo. Persecution and the Art of Writing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.

___. Spinoza's Critique of Religion. New York: Schoken Books, 1982.

Wolfson, H.A. The Philosophy of Spinoza. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962.

Yovel, Y. Spinoza and Other Heretics. Vols. 1 & 2. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989.

 

Additional Details:

Topic: Spinoza’s Ethics.

In this course students will study the development and structure of Spinoza's philosophical system.  We will begin with selections from Spinoza's early works, which include a treatise on philosophical method, a summary and analysis of the Cartesian system, and a critique of religion. We will spend most of our time on a careful reading of the Ethics, which presents Spinoza's mature views on metaphysics, epistemology, psychology, and the ethical life.  We will analyze his arguments in detail, compare them to those of his contemporaries (e.g., Descartes, Hobbes, Leibniz), and discuss the influence and relevance of Spinoza's work to contemporary philosophical projects.

TEXT: Spinoza, Baruch.  A Spinoza Reader:  The Ethics and Other Works. Edwin Curley, editor.

Credits: 
5
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
October 5, 2016 - 9:16pm