This Philosophy course will be taught by Mr. Onsi Kamel and will run from from April 11th through June 17th 2022. The syllabus will be available soon.
Rene Descartes (1596-1650) was a philosophical giant, held responsible in the annals of history for ushering in early modern philosophy by locking himself in his room and emerging to declare “cogito ergo sum!” He has the privilege of his name having become a dirty word: “Cartesian” is rarely used in a positive sense by Christians. But just how novel was Descartes? Was he a revolutionary or a repackager?
The course will seek to dispel popular myths, and understand Descartes both on his own terms and in his context. It will investigate Descartes’ metaphysics within its historical and contemporary moment through close readings of his Meditations and portions of his Principles of Philosophy alongside his correspondence with certain interlocutors. We will put these texts into dialogue with the greatest western medieval theologians and philosophers who preceded him, as well as with some of Descartes’ contemporaries. In so doing, we will arrive at not only a greater understanding of Descartes’ philosophy, but also at a deeper understanding of the medieval and early modern traditions.
By the end of the course, students will be able to say whether or not the traditional view of the Cartesian bogeyman is justified, and be able to articulate how and to what degree Descartes was building upon the metaphysical inheritance common to all Christians in the early modern West. Gaining this intellectual genealogy will help students to make greater sense of the origins of contemporary thought, enabling them to better navigate its contours.
Onsi Kamel (MA, University of Chicago) is Editor-in-Chief of The Davenant Press. His writing has appeared in the Scottish Journal of Theology, as well as Davenant publications, Mere Orthodoxy, Breaking Ground, and First Things. He writes a regular newsletter entitled The New Philosophy.
Online only, runs 10 weeks, meeting 2 hr./wk. via Zoom. Students will also have the option to participate in class discussion on the Davenant Common Room Discord server. Register to reserve your spot and schedule will be set after a poll of participating students; if the class time does not fit your schedule, you will be eligible for a full refund.
This is a graduate-level course. Although a BA is not a necessary pre-requisite for this course, students should come prepared to do graduate-level work.