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 2023/2024 Autumn semester
Miikael-Aadam Lotman (language of instruction:English)
lecturer of 2023/2024 Spring semester
Not opened for teaching. Click the study programme link below to see the nominal division schedule.
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
Philosophy can be defined as the most general attempt at making sense of the world. One of the defining characteristics of modern philosophy that distinguishes it from medieval scholastic philosophy is an emphasis on the nature of sense-making itself; i.e. what does it even mean to make sense of the world? In this course, we will focus on different approaches to sense-making in some of the core texts of the Western canon. Following a contextualization of early modern thought, the course introduces David Hume’s “copy principle”, and continental responses from Kant to Hegelian dialectics, and the vitalism of Bergson and Nietzsche. It concludes with a review of the analytical tradition focusing on Russell and Wittgenstein.
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.
Miikael-Aadam Lotman