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Early Modern Philosophy

This looks to be an excellent resource. Not only are the author's whose works are reproduced excellent, but the proprietor is on to one of the main problems with these texts, namely their relative impenetrability to the average reader of the English language. Thomas Hobbes will tell you just about what you need to know.

July 31, 2004 | Permalink


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Nice catch, this might well make teaching some of this material just a tad easier, especially at an introductory level.

Posted by: Ed Kazarian | Jul 31, 2004 10:43:32 AM

As a relative newbie amateur in the study of philosophy this is a valuable new resource for me. Excellent link. Thanks.

Posted by: Zaboo | Jul 31, 2004 10:48:32 AM

Wow--thanks. I use some of these texts in my PHIL 001 class (Spinoza and Leibniz), and the editorial comments aren't as intrusive as I would have thought. I'm going to have to contact Bennett and see if he has any plans to add additional texts. I have yet to find an on-line version of Leibniz's "On the Ultimate Origination of Things," which is one of my favorite introductory Leibniz texts.

Posted by: thurgo | Jul 31, 2004 11:07:05 AM

Some day this week I spent about three hours on the new article at Stanford on Kant's Philosophy of Mind, in which the author claimed that to this dayt the relevant section of the First Critique (Transcendental Deduction, IIRC) was still misunderstood. A reduction or translation would be far from easy, and would lose content. Whether these authors were being verbose or precise is arguable.

I happen to like 18th century English. Gibbon and Johnson are joys to read.

Ah well. As an introduction this is a great page. Prof Bennett look as qualified as a man could be to do the job, and these are the dudes to read. Not enough Kant. Yet. Hobbes is critical, but my amateur's opinion is that all the others wrote with Hobbes and each other in mind, and there is as much pessimism in Hume and Kant and Locke. But what do I know, I obviously belong to group (2)

"2) glide along the surface of the text, getting a vague sense of having understood it. The greater disaster is (2)"

I sometimes think you have to write about this shit in order to really read it.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jul 31, 2004 11:21:34 AM

I don't like this picture of Hume as much as this one, where he's wearing some kind of a pillowcase on his head. Anyway, the textbook racket...shit...

Posted by: spacetoast | Jul 31, 2004 6:07:49 PM

The 'pillowcase' is better known as the 'soft cap'. You'll find a few 18th-century types pictured with them, usually in poses that suggest either the informal, or being 'at work' in their study. It had its origins in the Phrygian cap of antiquity, and evolved into the 'Liberty Cap' of the French Revolution. Turbans were also fashionable for a time, especially during the mid-1700s, when all things Oriental were the rage.

The reason? Most 'men of quality' wore wigs when out and about. (As with the other picture of Hume.) And to wear a wig, you have to have your hair cut right down -- an army cut, if you like. So, to keep your head warm during the non-bewigged hours, you wore a soft velvet cap. My favourite example is William Hogarth's self-portrait of him painting the Antic Muse, where he does look like an East End bovver boy.

Anyway, Hobbes is much more inpenetrable than, say, Locke and most of those who follow Locke, because Hobbes's prose style belongs very much to the mid-17th century (as does Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy). A normalised edition of Locke, for the most part, is pretty readable. It'd be nice to see some Shaftesbury up there at some point (and some Hartley and Hutcheson too) but I'm avid that way.

And I love this very idiosyncratic take on Spinoza. Joseph Yesselman has been doing this for eight years now, and it's a true labour of love.

Posted by: nick | Jul 31, 2004 7:22:19 PM

Soft cap, eh? Whenever I've run across that portrait, I've always imagined he's wearing like a sarong and birkenstocks in the part you can't see.

Posted by: spacetoast | Jul 31, 2004 10:23:35 PM

Why am I not surprised you look to Hobbes for guidance.

Posted by: Court | Aug 1, 2004 12:07:13 PM

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