Professor Hud Hudson
Office: Bond Hall 311
Office Hours: MWF 11:00-12:00

Fall 2018
Philosophy 366
Carver Gym 103
MWF 1:00-1:50




This course is devoted to an examination and critical evaluation of some of the central themes and arguments in the rationalist tradition.  We will be reading the works of three philosophers: Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza.  For the first few weeks, we will read and discuss selections from Descartes's Rules for the Direction of the Mind and from his Meditations on First Philosophy.  For the next few weeks, we will read and discuss selections from Leibniz's The Monadology.  And for the remainder of the course, we will read and discuss selections from Spinoza's Ethics.

In addition to helping you come to learn about this important period in the history of philosophy, this course is designed to encourage and to assist students in developing and improving a range of skills.  In particular, this course is designed to help you to think critically, to read critically, to write analytically, and to carefully reconstruct and critically evaluate arguments.

Reading assignments are mandatory and are listed in the course outline below.  All the assigned readings are available in several locations on the internet.  Students should attend each meeting of the course ready to discuss the assigned reading material.

You will write two papers on assigned topics (each between 1800-2600 words).  The first paper will be due at the beginning of class in class on Friday, October 26th.  The second paper will be due in my office [Bond Hall 311] on Tuesday, December 11th (4:30-5:30).  Each paper will be worth half of the final grade for the course.




Attendance is not a requirement for the course, and you do not need to contact me to inform me that you will miss a meeting of the class.  If you do miss class, however, it is your responsibility to get notes from one of your colleagues.  Office hours are not designed for lecturing or for introducing new material.  You are, though, welcome to come talk to me about any questions you have once you work through the notes.

If you need to contact me, email works best.  Email is appropriate for brief questions and comments or to set up a time to meet.  Please note that I have a firm policy against conducting substantive discussions about the class material or answering substantive questions about the paper topics by email.

Academic dishonesty is a serious infraction and will be dealt with severely.  It is the responsibility of students to read, to understand, and to uphold the standards for academic honesty in Appendix D of the university catalog.  Students are also responsible for knowing and adhering to the university's standards for Ethical Computing.

Western is committed to providing a campus community, workplace, and academic environment that is fully accessible to people of all abilities.  Under federal and state law, no qualified person will be denied access to participation in or the benefits of a university program or activity on the basis of a disability.  More information on accommodations is available through the university's  Disability Resources website.

Western's students enjoy the same basic rights, privileges, and freedoms granted to all members of society.  At the same time, acceptance of admission to the university carries with it an obligation to fulfill certain responsibilities as a member of our university community.  For more information on these expectations, see Western’s Student Rights and Responsibilities Code.

Western is committed to an environment free of discrimination and harassment.  Federal and state laws, as well as university policies, protect faculty, staff, and students against discrimination based on the following legally protected characteristics: Race, Color, Creed, Religion, National Origin, Sex (including pregnancy and parenting status), Age, Disability, Marital Status, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, Genetic Information, and Veteran Status. For more details, see the university's Equal Opportunity website.

Western encourages students to seek university assistance and support at the onset of an illness, difficulty, or crisis.  In the case of a medical concern or question, contact the Health Center (650-3400).  In the case of an emotional or psychological concern or question, contact the Counseling Center (650-3400).  In the case of a safety concern, contact the University Police (650-3555).  In the case of a family or personal emergency, contact the Dean of Students (650-3450).

Finally, please give special attention to the following paragraph:

The deadline for submitting the first paper on the date it is due is 1:10pm (in class) and the deadline for submitting the second paper on the date it is due is 5:30pm (in my office).  Unless you make prior arrangements with me, a late paper will be penalized one and one-third letter grades, if it is submitted within 24 hours of its deadline, and it will be penalized two and two-thirds letter grades, if it is submitted within the next 24 hour period.  I will not accept a paper submitted 48 hours after it is due.  Late papers must be submitted as email attachments so that I will have an accurate record of the time of submission.  Every quarter the same problems surface . . . remember . . . computers crash, printers fail, and computer labs get busy.  Plan ahead.




09/26        Introduction

09/28        Descartes's Rules for the Direction of the Mind
10/03        No Class       
10/05        No Class

10/12        Descartes's Meditations on First Philosophy (Meditations I-IV)       

10/26        Midterm Paper Due On Friday, October 26th (In Class)

10/26        Leibniz's Monadology
11/12        No Class

11/16        Spinoza's Ethics (Part I: Axioms, Definitions, Propositions 1-14)       
11/21        No Class
11/23        No Class

12/11        Final Paper Due In Bond Hall 311 On Tuesday, December 11th (Between 4:30 - 5:30)