History of Philosophy 2 - MODULO I (2019/2020)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Laura Anna Macor
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem. 1A dal Sep 23, 2019 al Oct 31, 2019.

To show the organization of the course that includes this module, follow this link * Course organization

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The course aims to provide an introduction to the history of early-modern philosophy and its terminology. Special attention will be given to developing a critical approach to the most important texts as well as their central issues and concepts.

The anticipated learning objectives are as follows:

1) Knowledge and understanding of early-modern philosophical contexts (historical-cultural contexts, philosophical traditions);
2) Knowledge and understanding of the theories developed by the major early-modern philosophers;
3) Knowledge and understanding of the lexicon of early-modern philosophy.

1) Applying knowledge and understanding to the critical reading of and commentary on philosophical texts, possibly in the original or at least with some reference to it; this should be demonstrated by the mastery of an appropriate vocabulary and the ability to identify interpretative problems and suggest possible solutions;
2) Making autonomous judgments and engaging in independent reasoning;
3) Developing communication skills, also according to the recipient, in the following areas: participating in guided discussions, generating and explaining ideas and defending these through arguments, and possibly delivering short presentations;
4) Enacting autonomous learning skills through the development of an appropriate study and interpretation methodology in relation to both texts and contexts;
5) Developing the ability to connect study outcomes with personal experience and today’s world, wherein particular attention will be paid to ability to differentiate between historical circumstances and contexts.


PREREQUISITES: Knowledge of ancient and medieval philosophy.

COURSE CONTENT: The Thought of Kant: Ethics and Enlightenment.

The course will consist of four parts:
1) Introduction to the history of early-modern philosophy (15th-18th centuries): cross-trajectories (e.g., religious tolerance, the notion of “prejudice”, criticism of the principle of authority);
2) Introduction to the German Enlightenment (Aufklärung): historical and cultural features, periodization, major authors (e.g., Chr. Wolff, G. F. Meier, G. E. Lessing, M. Mendelssohn) and basic concepts (enlightenment: Aufklärung; autonomous thought: Selbstdenken; maturity: Mündigkeit; prejudice: Vorurteil; vocation of man: Bestimmung des Menschen; universal human reason: allgemeine Menschenvernunft; perfectibility: Perfektibilität/Vervollkommnung);
3) Introduction to the thought of Kant: works, terminology and main theses, with special attention given to ethics and its basic concepts;
4) Reading of and commentary on Kant’s essay An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment? (1784).

TEACHING METHODS: The course will consist of both lectures and discussions guided by the professor with a view to enabling students to attain both the knowledge- and the skills-related learning outcomes outlined above. Furthermore, there is the opportunity to prepare short papers on topics previously agreed on and to present them in class. The plurality of teaching methods is conceived of as a way of helping students, who will be offered as wide a range of learning paths as possible.


1) G. Cambiano e M. Mori, Tempi del pensiero. Storia e antologia della filosofia, 2. Età moderna, Laterza, Roma – Bari 2012 (or other edition), chapters 1-15 or G. Belgioioso, Storia della filosofia moderna, Le Monnier-Mondadori, Firenze – Milano 2018, chapters 1-22 (or an alternative handbook to be discussed with the professor);

2) Learning materials published on e-learning;

3) I. Kant, Fondazione della metafisica dei costumi, ed. by F. Gonnelli, Laterza, Bari 1997 (or other reprint/edition;

4) I. Kant, Risposta alla domanda: che cos’è l’illuminismo?, ed. by M. Bensi, Postfazione by A. M. Iacono, ETS, Pisa 2013, or in I. Kant, Scritti sul criticismo, ed. by G. De Flaviis, Laterza, Roma-Bari 1991, pp. 5-12, or in Che cos’è l’illuminismo? I testi e la genealogia del concetto, ed. by A. Tagliapietra, transl. by S. Manzoni and E. Tetamo, Mondadori, Milano 2010 (2000), pp. 16-41.

LEARNING MATERIALS: Additional learning materials, which will form part of the mandatory reading, will be published on e-learning.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
A. Tagliapietra (a cura di) Che cos'è l'illuminismo? I testi e la genealogia del concetto Bruno Mondadori 2010
I. Kant Fondazione della metafisica dei costumi Laterza 1997
G. Belgioioso Storia della filosofia moderna Le Monnier-Mondadori 2018 capp. 1-22
G. Cambiano e M. Mori Tempi del pensiero. Storia e antologia della filosofia, 2. Età moderna Laterza 2012 capp. 1-15

Assessment methods and criteria

Oral exam.

The exam aims to assess the attainment of the course’s twofold learning outcomes (knowledge/understanding and skills) with special attention being given to ability to compare the authors studied, and this will be addressed as follows:
1) (autonomously) outlining a cross-trajectory in early-modern thought: students will have to demonstrate possession of basic facts and notions, showing ability to explain them in a systematic manner and follow their diachronic development;
2) defining one or more philosophical concepts belonging to Kant’s terminology: students will have to prove ability to formulate precise definitions, and possibly make connections between them;
3) reading of and commenting on a philosophical text from among those discussed in class: students will have to demonstrate acquisition of a robust methodology for analysing texts and reflecting on their theoretical implications.

Each part of the exam has equal weighting, i.e., 1/3 of the final mark. Students who will have presented an optional short paper will be exempt from the part of the exam corresponding to the nature of the work already done. The paper’s assessment will contribute a third of the final total.

No distinction will be made between attending and non-attending students. Non-attending students are however requested to contact the professor in order to receive instructions on how to prepare the cross-trajectory described above (cf. 1).