Syllabus contents:Week 1: Background and Life
Week 2: Substance & Attributes
Week 3: Modes and Necessity
Week 4: Mind & Body
Week 5: Theory of Knowledge
Week 6: Conatus and the Affects
Week 7: Bondage & Sociability
Week 8: Political Life & the
Week 9: Mastering the Affects
Week 10: The Highest Good
Week 11: Paper Conference
PHIL 522, Spring Quarter
Prof. Michael Rosenthal
In this course students will study the development and structure of Spinoza's philosophical system. We will begin with selections from Spinoza's early works, which include a treatise on philosophical method, a summary and analysis of the Cartesian system, and a critique of religion. We will spend most of our time on a careful reading of the Ethics, which presents Spinoza's mature views on metaphysics, epistemology, psychology, and the ethical life. We will analyze his arguments in detail, compare them to those of his contemporaries (e.g., Descartes, Hobbes, Leibniz), and discuss the influence and relevance of Spinoza's work to contemporary philosophical projects.
envision the format of the course as follows. It
will meet once a week as a seminar. Except
for the first class, in which I will give an
lecture, the subsequent sessions will be a combination of lecture and
discussion, focused on a brief student presentation.
In each class, my own talk will aim to give
some background information—for example, trying to show what debates
might have been involved in—and to underline the themes I hope the
will discuss. Each student presentation
will be based on a short, written paper that will be due a few days
class and which all students will have been expected to read ahead of
time. The central text of the course
will of course be the Ethics, but I
will also insist that we read other contemporary texts that (either
or probably) influenced Spinoza, as well as important secondary sources
produced by outstanding modern scholars. (Although
much important work has been done by European
scholars, I will
assign only English-language texts in this course, with other texts,
those in French, only recommended for those who have the language
A total of 400 points are possible in this class. The weekly essays and comment are worth 125 points and all the components of the final essay are worth 275 points. A grading scale will be distributed in class as a guideline. Final grades will be determined on the basis of this scale and adjustment in terms of overall class performance.
1. Weekly Essays. a) Each Monday I will distribute an essay topic, which will focus on a particular issue or argument in the text. Each student must write a short (around 3 page) essay on the topic, due by on Friday, which should be submitted to me via e-mail.
Please note that late papers will not be accepted for credit. The paper will be graded either unsatisfactory (5 points), satisfactory (8 points), or good (10 points). There will be nine occasions to turn in an essay. You will be given 10 points for just showing up the first week. A total of 100 points will be possible for this assignment.
b) Each week one paper will be the topic of discussion. Each student in the class will choose one week in the quarter in which he or she will be responsible for a longer paper (about 5-6 pages) that will be the basis of class discussion. The student will be expected to summarize some relevant debate in the secondary literature and evaluate the debate. This paper will be circulated to the other students before class and all class members will be responsible for reading it.
One student ("the discussant") each week will be assigned the task of critiquing the assigned paper. The discussant will be responsible for analyzing the philosophical content of the essay (i.e., the interpretation of the relevant passages, argument, objections, etc.). The discussant will summarize his or her comments in writing (about one page in length) and at the end of class will give a copy to both the author of the essay and the professor. All other students are also expected to have read the chosen essay and be ready to discuss it in depth. Completion of this task is worth a maximum of 15 points.
a) Topic Statement with Annotated Bibliography. Due Monday, May 14th. (Week 8). You must turn in a brief statement of the projected topic of the paper that states: i) the problem you propose to discuss; ii) your tentative thesis; and iii) a brief sketch of the argument you will make. In addition, I expect an annotated bibliography that cites at least three sources (books, articles, etc.) with a brief presentation of how the author in each case addresses your proposed topic (i.e., brief outline of the argument, interpretation, etc.). Completion of this assignment is worth a maximum of 25 points.
b) Outline. Due Monday, May 21st (Week 9). You must turn in a complete outline of your paper. It is to include: i) a full presentation of your topic (including problem and thesis); ii) a detailed, point by point, presentation of your argument (including references to the specific primary and secondary texts that support your points); iii) possible objections to your argument; iv) your response to the objections; and v) conclusion. Completion of this assignment is worth a maximum of 25 points.
c) Preliminary Draft and Abstract. Due Tuesday, May 29th (Week 10). This should be a complete draft of your essay. Please hand in two copies. At the same time, you must also turn in an abstract of your essay (one page or less in length). This should be a summary of your thesis, argument, and conclusion. Make enough copies of your abstract to distribute one to each of your fellow students and one to me. Completion of this assignment is worth a maximum of 100 points.
d) Comments. Due Monday, June 4th (Week 11) You will be given the preliminary draft one of your fellow student's essays upon which you will expected to comment in depth. I expect comments on both the style and the content of the essay. These are to be both critical and constructive comments: How can the essay be improved? You are to write up your comments, which should be no more than two pages and no less than one page in length (double-spaced). Make two copies of your comments; at the end of the paper conference (see below) give one of them to me and the other to the author. Completion of this assignment is worth a maximum of 35 points.
e) Paper Conference. Wednesday, June 6th, . The conference will be devoted to a presentation and discussion of paper topics. Each author will give a five-minute, prepared presentation of his or her paper. This need not be a summary (each student will already have read the abstract) but might focus on one or two key points. The assigned commentator will then give a five minute response, in which he or she will address the points raised by the author's presentation or some other interesting aspect of the paper. There will then be time for questions and reactions from the other students. Participation in the paper conference is worth a maximum of 25 points.
f) Final Draft. Due Thursday, June 7th, at . In your final draft I expect you to revise your essay in light of all the comments (both regarding style and content) you received. Of course you are not restricted to these comments alone. In the two weeks between handing in the preliminary and final draft, you will hopefully be thinking yourself how to improve the final product. Grading of the final draft will be based on both the quality of the completed work and also the extent to which you have improved the rough draft. Completion of this assignment is worth a maximum of 75 points.
For each day that you are late in completing any one of the requirements of the final essay, your grade will automatically be reduced by 10 points.
Nota Bene: (1) Cheating in any form (including plagiarism, of course) will result in automatic referal to the Dean’s office. You are assumed to understand the university rules concerning inappropriate academic conduct. Please see the Student code and the following website for information: http://depts.washington.edu/grading/issue1/honesty.htm#plagiarism. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the instructor.
(2) In order to pass this course students are required to: a) have enough total points (i.e., at least 212 points); and also b) receive passing grades in both major components of the course, i.e., at least 67 points in the weekly writing assignments (including comments), and at least 146 points total from the various components of the final essay. If you have enough total points to pass but do not receive pass both the weekly assignments and the final essay you will fail the course. Absolutely no exceptions will be made to this policy.
Disabled Student Services. If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY). If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to me at the beginning of the course so we can discuss the accommodations you might need for the class.
The following primary texts are required and is available for purchase at the UW Bookstore:
Baruch.. A Spinoza Reader:
and Other Works.
Treatise. Trans. Samuel
Edwin. Behind the Geometrical
-Della Rocca, Michael. Spinoza. New York: Routledge,<>-Garrett, Don, editor. The
Nadler, Life; Yovel, vol. 1, chapters
<>><> Critique of Scripture
><> Primary: SR, 6-48, TTP, Preface, ch. 3-7.
Secondary: Companion, chapters 8 and 9.
Recommended: Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 12, and all of part III; Donagan, ch. 2; Gatens & Lloyd, ch. 1 (also 87-100); Strauss (1988), 142-202.
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Primary: SR, 85-100 (E1 definitions, axioms, E1p1-p20).
Secondary: Companion, chapter 2. Curley (1988), ch. 1. Della Rocca, ch. 1, ch. 2, sections 1-4.
Recommended: SR, 77-84; Descartes, Principles, pt. I, articles 51-54 (CSM I, 210-11); Leibniz, 207-8, 213-14; Donagan, chs. 4-5.<-- RETURN TO TOP
Primary: SR, 100-109 (E1p20-p36), 269-276 (correspondence with Tschirnhaus).
Recommended: Descartes, Principles, I, 56-62 (CSM I, 211-14); Curley (1988), ch. 1; Della Rocca, ch. 2, sections 4; Donagan, ch. 6.<>
Ethics, Part I (Of God) -- Necessity and Contingency >
Primary: SR, 100-114 (E1p20-p36, E1appendix), 266-269 (correspondence with Tschirnhaus).
Secondary: Companion, ch. 2 (pages 74-76); Curley (1988), 48-50.
Recommended: Leibniz, 272-84, 60-64, 111-117; Curley (1969), ch. 3; Bennett, ch. 5; Della Rocca, ch. 2, sections 5-6; Garrett (1991); Gatens & Lloyd, ch. 1 (especially 28-33).
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Primary: SR, 115-128 (E2 preface, definitions, axioms, E2p1-p15).
Secondary: Companion, chapters 3 and 4.
Recommended: Descartes, Meditations, VI (CSM II, 50-62); Curley (1988), ch. 2; Bennett, chs. 6-7; Della Rocca, ch. 3, sections 1-4.
Primary: SR, 128-152 (E2p16-p49).
Secondary: Companion, ch. 3 .
Recommended: Descartes, Meditations IV (CSM II, 37-43); Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 6; Della Rocca, ch. 3, sections 5-7; Donagan, ch. 7; Curley (1975); Gatens & Lloyd, ch. 1.
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Primary: SR, 152-162 (E3 preface, definitions, axioms, postulates, E3p1-p13).
Secondary: Companion, chapter 5.
Recommended: Descartes, Passions of the Soul, preface, Part I (CSM I, 326-48); Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 6; Curley (1988), ch. 3; Donagan, ch. 8; Bennett, chs. 9-10; Della Rocca, ch. 4; Gatens & Lloyd, 100-107.<>
Ethics, Part III (Of the Affects) -- The Structure of the Affective Life >
Primary: SR, 162-197(E3p14-p59, definitions of the affects, general definition of the affects).
Recommended: Descartes, Passions
the Soul, Part II (CSM I, 349-382); Hobbes, Leviathan, chs.
Bennett, ch. 11.
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Primary: SR, 197-218 (E4 preface, definitions, axioms, E4p1-p36).
Secondary: Companion, chapter 6; Theological-Political Treatise, ch. 16.
Recommended: Hobbes, Leviathan,
ch. 13; Bennett, ch. 12; Della Rocca, ch. 5; Donagan, ch. 9; Gatens
& Lloyd, ch. 4.
<>M 5/14 Topic Statment with Annotated Bibliography Due
Ethics, Part IV (Of Human Bondage) -- Politics and the Free Man >
Primary: SR, 218-244 (E4p37-p73, appendix).
Secondary: Companion, chapter 7.
Recommended: Hobbes, Leviathan, chapters 10-17; Garrett (1990); Bennett, ch. 13; Gatens & Lloyd, chs. 2, 3, & 6.
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Ethics, Part V (Of Human Freedom) -- Mastering the Affects
Primary: SR, 244-255 (E5 preface, axioms, E5p1-p20).
Secondary: Companion, selections from chapters 3, 6, and 8.
Recommended: Descartes, Passions of the Soul, Part I, article 50, Part III (CSM I, 348, 383-404); Bennett, ch. 14.<-- RETURN TO TOP
Ethics, Part V (Of Human Freedom) -- Amor Dei Intellectualis and the Eternity of the Mind
Primary: SR, 255-265 (E5p21-p42).
Recommended: Donagan, ch. 10; Bennett, ch. 15; Curley (1988), 83-86; Nadler (2001).
Secondary: Companion, chapter 10.
Recommended: Gatens & Lloyd, ch. 6.<-- RETURN TO TOP
Paper Due at Noon.
Contact the instructor at: firstname.lastname@example.org