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PHI 106 — The European Enlightenment: Reason and Revolution in 18th-Century Thought

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: On campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 26—Dec 12
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 9
Unit(s): 2 Units
Tuition: $435
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class on October 17 and November 21
On campus
7:00—8:50 pm
Sep 26—Dec 12
10 weeks
Drop By
Oct 9
2 Units
Please Note: No class on October 17 and November 21
"Enlightenment" is regarded as the unique gift of 18th-century European thought to the continuing project of human advancement in science, philosophy, secularization, and political emancipation. Yet, having survived two world wars, a chastened 20th century started to raise vital questions, asking if there are limitations to Enlightenment thought, and even sometimes suggesting that the overall effect of the Enlightenment’s main projects has been detrimental to individuals, societies, and environments.

This course asks you to confront the “Enlightenment project” by considering its moments of triumph as well as self-doubts and investigating possible shortcomings intrinsic to those moments. After locating its origins in British culture of the early 18th century by looking to the debate between Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz, the Augustan culture of Alexander Pope, and the empiricist philosophies of George Berkeley and David Hume, the course follows the impact of that body of British thought on Voltaire’s efforts to rejuvenate and modernize French culture after an age of absolution, Denis Diderot’s grand project of the Encyclopedia, and the self-critique of the Enlightenment by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The course then assesses the increasing radicalization of Enlightenment ideas toward the outbreak of the French Revolution, concluding with an assessment of Immanuel Kant’s Critical Philosophy and the example of revolutionary ideas in Mary Wollstonecraft’s writings on feminist suffrage. The course concludes by measuring the ultimate pros and cons of the European Enlightenment for the future development of modern ideas.

Josef Chytry, Senior Adjunct Professor in Critical Studies, California College of the Arts

Josef Chytry is the author of Mountain of Paradise: Reflections on the Emergence of Greater California as a World Civilization and The Aesthetic State: A Quest in Modern German Thought. He has taught and published extensively on the European Enlightenment. He received a DPhil in politics and the history of ideas from the University of Oxford and was an Alexander von Humboldt fellow in philosophy at the University of Tuebingen, Germany.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man (Dover) (ISBN 0486280535)
(Required) Voltaire, Candide (Penguin) (ISBN 0140440046)
(Required) Denis Diderot, Rameau's Nephew and D'Alembert's Dream (Penguin) (ISBN 0140441735)
(Required) Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract (Penguin) (ISBN 149617266X )
(Required) Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Reveries of the Solitary Walker (Penguin) (ISBN 0140443630 )
(Required) Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (ISBN 0061311596)
(Required) Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (Penguin) (ISBN 0141441259)