21L.002-2 Foundations of Western Culture II: Renaissance to Modernity

Spring 2003

Philosopher in Meditation by Rembrandt, 1632.
Philosopher in Meditation, oil on wood by Rembrandt, 1632; in the Musee du Louvre, Paris. (Image courtesy of WebMuseum: http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/.)

Course Highlights

A number of the readings for the course may be download. In addition, questions for discussion are included for all class sessions.

Course Description

This subject offers a broad survey of texts (both literary and philosophical) drawn from the Western tradition and selected to trace the growth of ideas about the nature of mankind's ethical and political life in the West since the renaissance. It will deal with the change in perspective imposed by scientific ideas, the general loss of a supernatural or religious perspective upon human events, and the effects for good or ill of the increasing authority of an intelligence uninformed by religion as a guide to life. The readings are roughly complementary to the readings in 21L001, and classroom discussion will stress appreciation and analysis of texts that came to represent the cultural heritage of the modern world.
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Prof. Alvin Kibel

Course Meeting Times

Two sessions / week
1.5 hours / session