Main Body

1 Preface

This book combines readings from primary sources with two pedagogical tools. Paragraphs in italics introduce figures and texts, or draw connections among the readings. Numbered study questions sometimes ask you to reconstruct an argument from the text, using numbered premises. Some of the premises or the conclusion are usually given. You might need more or fewer lines to state the argument; you might also choose to start your reconstruction with different premises than those provided.

Only excerpts of the major works are included. Descartes’s Meditations, Hume’s Enquiry and Kant’s Prolegomena are largely unabridged. Minor stylistic changes have been made to the original texts; in particular, many more paragraph breaks have been added.

The introductory chapter, (Minilogic and Glossary), is designed to introduce the basic tools of philosophy and sketch some basic principles and positions.

Authors and Acknowledgements

Modern Philosophy was created by Walter Ott. Other contributors include Antonia LoLordo and Lydia Patton.

The creation of Modern Philosophy was made possible by the Virginia Tech Philosophy Department and a Virginia Tech CIDER grant.

This modified version of the text was written in Markdown (with pandoc-exclusive extensions) by Alexander Dunn. Using the free utility pandoc, this version can be easily converted to HTML, PDF, EPUB, and many other formats. This version is hosted on GitHub; please copy and edit it, and feel free to submit your changes to the public repository.


Unless otherwise noted, all texts are in the public domain. All other material is the author’s and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  1. Background
    1. Aristotle
      1. Categories—Translated by E.M. Edghill
      2. Physics—Translated by R. P. Hardie and R. K. Gaye
      3. Posterior Analytics—Translated by E.S. Bouchier
    2. Aquinas
      1. On the Eternity of the World—Translated by Robert T. Miller (copyright 1991, 1997)
      2. Summa Contra Gentiles—Translated by Joseph Rickaby
      3. Summa Theologicae—Translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province (Part 1, Volume 1 and Volume 2, Part 2, Part 3)
  2. Descartes
    1. The Principles of Philosophy—Translated by John Veitch
    2. Discourse on Method—Translated by John Veitch
    3. Meditations on First Philosophy—Translated by John Veitch
    4. Objections and Replies—Translated by Jonathan Bennett, (copyright 2010–2015)
  3. Spinoza
    1. The Ethics—Translated by R.H.M. Elwes
  4. Locke
    1. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding—Second edition, 1690 (Part 1, Part 2)
  5. Berkeley
    1. A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge
    2. De Motu (On Motion)—edited by A.C. Fraser, 1871
  6. Hume
    1. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
    2. A Treatise of Human Nature
  7. Kant
    1. Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics—Translated by P. Carus
    2. The Critique of Pure Reason—Translated by J. Meiklejohn


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