History and Texts of Philosophy of Modern Times

lfilo1240  2019-2020  Louvain-la-Neuve

History and Texts of Philosophy of Modern Times
Note from June 29, 2020
Although we do not yet know how long the social distancing related to the Covid-19 pandemic will last, and regardless of the changes that had to be made in the evaluation of the June 2020 session in relation to what is provided for in this learning unit description, new learnig unit evaluation methods may still be adopted by the teachers; details of these methods have been - or will be - communicated to the students by the teachers, as soon as possible.
5 credits
45.0 h
Depré Olivier (coordinator); Maesschalck Marc;
Main themes
The course is intended as an introduction to the study of texts and doctrines of modern philosophy.

It identifies the main aspects of the history of modern philosophy, its key trends and prominent thinkers, and will develop students' critical reading of the great works of modern philosophy. Authors studied will include Bacon, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Hume, Kant and Hegel.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

1 By the end of the course, students will be familiar with the major movements and significant writers of modern philosophy, and will be able to identify its key underlying issues and describe the important ongoing debates.

They will be able to comment on, analyse and critique one or more major modern philosophy texts and situate them in the overall context of modern philosophy, from Bacon and Descartes to Hegel.

The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
Culture and counter-culture: From Maimon to Fichte
In one of his most polished works, Characteristics of the Present Age (also known as the Grundzüge), Fichte set out to construct in 1804 a philosophical model of history in order to situate his own era. In the spirit of Erasmus, Molière or La Bruyère, but also incorporating the certain critiques from Maimon and Platner regarding the pretentions of enlightened rationalism, Fichte proposes a minute analysis of the mental distortions that characterize his time, so proud as it was of its modern science and at the same, according to Fichte, so distanced from the wisdom of ancient science. For Fichte, the whole problem lies in his contemporaries’ incapacity to think through their relationship with limits. He saw his era as divided between two tendencies, one arbitrarily restricting rational judgment to the domain of sensory perceptions, and the other taking advantage of this lack of reflection on limits inherent to the ambient empiricism as a means of escaping it and seeking out a pathway to the repressed power of imagination and the unconscious. For Fichte, this distension constituted the main roadblock on the way towards a true science, one that manages to give an essential role to its relationship with limits, beyond the constrained space of technical considerations about fallibility and the surplus of consciousness that would be provided by an ethics of values.
Evaluation methods
Students will be asked to write a 10 page paper to be based off of a reading of one of the proposed texts. After emailing the paper, the student will receive a question on the paper to be prepared for the oral exam.
The student will have approximately 15 minutes to present this answer during the oral exam.
The paper may be written in French, English, Spanish, or German, with the professor’s agreement.
Fichte J.G., Le caractère de l’époque actuelle, trad. Par I. Radrizzani, Vrin, Paris, 1990, en ligne sur google books. [Fichte J.G., Die Grundzüge des gegenwärtigen Zeitalters, in Sämmtliche Werke, Bd. 7, en ligne sur www.zeno.org]
Maesschalck M., La théorie spéculative du destin collectif dans les Grundzüge, in Droit et création sociale chez Fichte, Une philosophie moderne de l'action politique, IIe partie/Chap.1, Bibliothèque Philosophique de Louvain (44), Vrin/Peeters, Paris/Leuven, 1996, pp. 189-219.
Maesschalck M., La religion dans les Grundzüge de Fichte, in Revue Philosophique de Louvain, 89, 1991, pp. 581 à 605.
Marx Otto M., « German Romantic Psychiatry », in E. R. Wallace and J. Gach (eds), History of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology, Springer, New York, 2008, pp. 313–351.
Radrizzani I., Préface in Le caractère de l’époque actuelle, traduit par Radrizzani I., 1990, Vrin, Paris, pp. 7-16.
Radrizzani I., Quelques réflexions sur le statut de l’histoire dans le système fichtéen, in Revue de Théologie et de Philosophie, 123(1991), pp. 293-304.
Regenspurger Katja u. Zantwijk Temilo van, Wissenschaftliche Anthropologie um 1800?, Steiner, Suttgart, 2005.
Vergniolle de Chantal H., Une œuvre peu connue de Fichte : les « Caractéristiques du temps présent », in Revue philosophique de la France et de l’Etranger, 171(1981), pp. 273 à 281
Weiner D. B., « The Madman in the Light of Reason. Enlightenment Psychiatry. Part II : Alienists, Treatises, and the Psychologic Approach in the Era of Pinel », in E. R. Wallace and J. Gach (eds), History of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology, Springer, New York, 2008, pp. 281–312.
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Certificat universitaire en philosophie (fondements)

Bachelor in Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Bachelor in Philosophy

Certificat universitaire en philosophie (approfondissement)

Minor in Philosophy