Key Texts of Modern Philosophy
Course code
old course code
Course title in Estonian
Filosoofia tüvitekstiseminar uusajast
Course title in English
Key Texts of Modern Philosophy
ECTS credits
Assessment form
lecturer of 2021/2022 Spring semester
lecturer not assigned
lecturer of 2022/2023 Autumn semester
lecturer not assigned
Course aims
The long 18th century – opening with the French Revolution of 1789 and closing with the Great War of 1914-1918 – witnessed many important transformations which decisively shaped European modernity: the rise of democratic politics, two industrial revolutions, imperial expansion, as well as the invention of modern nationalism and the consequent end of empires and polities which had existed for centuries. No less significant were the developments in philosophical thinking which marked the period: echoing the momentous transformations occurring, philosophers, starting with Kant, abandoned most of the presuppositions which had previously informed philosophical thinking and set forth on a radically different direction. Human subjectivity – previously relegated to a mere, however important, element in a larger cosmological ensemble – became not only more important as an object of study, but the bedrock on which to reconstruct philosophical knowledge in a post-metaphysical age.
Brief description of the course
The course consists in an exploration of post-metaphysical themes in 19th century European philosophy through selected readings of four key philosophers of the period. How did 19th century thinkers attempt the reconstruction of an entire philosophical, scientific, and cultural vocabulary in the aftermath of the Kantian revolution? How did they reconcile universalistic concerns with the emphasis on the concrete, particular, and historical? How did new discoveries in natural history condition philosophical thinking in the latter part of the century? The answers to these questions are provided through an exploration of four philosophers who cover the entire chronology of the 19th century: Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Bergson. We explore the major philosophical ideas of these four thinkers and some of the extra-philosophical consequences of their thought.
Learning outcomes in the course
Upon completing the course the student:
- has a deeper knowledge of one or many key texts of modern philosophy and is able to analyse the structure and main ideas and arguments of the text;
- is able to see the importance of the text(s) in a broader perspective throughout the history of philosophy and culture;
- is able to apply the philosophical ideas and arguments in the context of his/her own era.
Henry John Mead