- Teaching methods:
The course presents the subject in a thematic and original manner, focusing upon some of the most important philosophical debates of the seventeenth century and attempting to reconstruct the central questions behind such debates.
We have labelled our meetings “lecture-workshops” as an indication of their double nature: we do value the importance of the clear, substantial exposition of the lecture format, just as we appreciate the gains of interactive and student-led or student-tutor forms of class activity. Therefore, each meeting will generally consist of an expository part (usually ppt-based) punctuated by short feedback requests (approx. 1h) sandwiched in between an opening and an ending part devoted to interaction and debate (together approx. 1h). In the early stages of the course, we prefer short introductory brainstorming sessions, and questions and discussions at the end. As the course advances (starting with the 3rd or 4th meeting), we move into the workshop format proper, which will mainly consist in the organization of debates, since we consider this form of interaction crucial for the assimilation of the subject-matter of this course:
In this interactive or practical part of the course, the students will be required to imagine the way in which typical 17th-century debates took place, take stand on them and argue for or against a famous point of view in order to understand why it was so important to talk about issues like the powers of the mind, the limits of reason, the laws of nature or the relation between God and His creation in seventeenth-century thought. In such a way, the students will also understand that the key concepts and themes of debate in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were not restricted to disciplinary fields (our disciplinary fields) or specific currents of thought.
- Assessment methods:
Since student participation in class debate is crucial for the success of this course, involvement in such critical discussion will figure prominently in the assessment percentage. This component will take the form of several types of task: preparation of conceptual stance established with tutor and defended in open debate; two short written essays on questions that emerge from class discussion; one group research project on topic of debate introduced in class. However, each of the five courses will propose specific methods of assessment, according to the background of the students, their level and the agreement between the professor(s) and the students.