Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York


PHGA 7109: Descartes

Dr. Balestra, Admin 217
Phone: (718) 817-3047, E-mail:
Fall 2005, Thurs: 4:30 – 6:30pm PCR

This course will provide a comprehensive treatment of Descartes' major texts in order to understand the initial framework and distinctive set of problems that have come to define modern philosophy.   Method, cogito, ideas, God and nature, mind and body, and objectivity and subjectivity will be treated in Descartes.

Texts for the course:

Michel de Montaigne, In Defense of Raymond Sebond, (abridged and translated by A. Beattie), F. Unger  Pub.  (Handout in class).

R. Descartes, The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, Vols. I & II. (Trs., J. Cottingham et al.), Cambridge University Press, 1985.

Vere Chappell, Ed. Descartes’s Meditations: Critical Essays, NY: Rowman & LittlefieldPub., 1997.

Readings for the Course (by week):

Week Reading
2 &3

Montaigne, Apology for Raymond Sebond

"Regulae," Cottingham et al, I (7-77)

4 Discourse on Method,I,II,III, & IV, Cott'm, I (111-26,141-51)
5 Meditations, I & II,  Cott'm, II.
6 Meditations, III & V
7 Principles I, 1-51
8 Meditations, IV & VI
9 Principles I, 52-76; and II, 1-26

Objections and Replies, Cott'm, II.

                        - first three sets (Caterus, Mersenne & Hobbes; 63-137 in Cott'm)

                        - fourth set  (Arnauld, 138-178)

                        - sixth (via Mersenne)

                        - seventh (Bourdin, S.J.) with letter to Fr. Dinet, S.J.

SEMINAR PRESENTATIONS:  Start  November 10th  ( seminar assignment choices will be presented in first or second class meeting)

Course Requirements:

    1. Short paper (due the week before the seminar) on a chapter in Chappell’s Descartes’s Meditations (Possible option two selections on a continental read of Descartes such as by Levinas or Marion).
     2. Seminar presentation (the exact arrangement will be set about third week of the course) based on the selection from Chappell or a continental philosopher.
     3. Term paper:  written statement of proposed topic due November 17th;  paper due Dec. 19.

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