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Ideas and Mechanism : Essays on Early Modern Philosophy by Margaret Dauler Wilson.

Philosophy Since the Enlightenment

Roger Jones ne plus ultra Award WinnerBy Roger Jones.  Clearly written and coherently presented, Philosophy Since the Enlightenment offers an accessible overview of the last 350 years of Western philosophy.

This site contains sections on:

The Enlightenment
Moral Philosophy
Philosophy of Mind
Philosophy of Religion
Philosophy of Science

Readings in Modern Philosophy

J. Carl Mickelsen ne plus ultra Award WinnerCreated and Maintained by J. Carl Mickelsen.  Extensive list of 35 modern philosophers.  The simplicity of presentation makes this site extremely easy to use.  

Contains many primary and secondary sources on the following: 

Giordano Bruno
Francis Bacon
Tommaso Campanella
Thomas Hobbes 
Pierre Gassendi 
René Descartes 
Antoine Arnauld 
Ralph Cudworth 
Blaise Pascal 
Benedictus de Spinoza 
Samuel von Pufendorf 
John Locke 
Nicolas Malebranche 
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz 
Pierre Bayle 
Christian Wolff 
George Berkeley
Giambattista Vico 
Baron de Montesquieu 
F-M Arouet de Voltaire 
Thomas Reid 
David Hume
Jean Jacques Rousseau 
Denis Diderot
Etienne Bonnot de Condillac 
Baron d'Holbach 
Adam Smith 
Immanuel Kant 
Marquis de Condorcet 
Johann Gottfried Herder 
Jeremy Bentham 
Johann Gottlieb Fichte 
G.W.F. Hegel 
Friedrich von Schlegel 
Friedrich Schelling 

Mickelsen is also in the (ongoing) process of posting the modern philosophy section of Alfred Weber's History of Philosophy to this site.

Early Modern Europe:  Philosophy

From Hanover College.

Site includes sections on:

Francis Bacon
George Berkeley
Rene Descartes
David Hume
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz
John Locke
Michel de Montaigne
Sir Isaac Newton
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Adam Smith


Pomoerium:  Classic Philosophy Resources

This site has an extensive list of modern philosophy resources.


The Birth of Modern Science

Essay by Kelly Ross.


One thing that happened during the Renaissance that was of great importance for the later character of modern philosophy was the birth of modern science. Even as in the Middle Ages philosophy was often thought of as the "handmaiden of theology," modern philosophers have often thought of their discipline as little more than the "handmaiden of science." Even for those who haven't thought that, the shadow of science, its spectacular success and its influence on modern life and history, have been hard to ignore...

 Nicolas Copernicus: Biography (1473-1543)

Biography by Peter Landry at


Copernicus is said to be the founder of modern astronomy. He was born in Poland, and eventually was sent off to Cracow University, there to study mathematics and optics; at Bologna, cannon law. Returning from his studies in Italy, Copernicus, through the influence of his uncle, was appointed as a canon in the cathedral of Frauenburg where he spent a sheltered and academic life for the rest of his days. Because of his clerical position, Copernicus moved in the highest circles of power; but a student he remained. For relaxation Copernicus painted and translated Greek poetry into Latin. His interest in astronomy gradually grew to be one in which he had a primary interest. His investigations were carried on quietly and alone, without help or consultation. He made his celestial observations from a turret situated on the protective wall around the cathedral, observations were made "bear eyeball," so to speak, as a hundred more years were to pass before the invention of the telescope. In 1530, Copernicus completed and gave to the world his great work De Revolutionibus, which asserted that the earth rotated on its axis once daily and traveled around the sun once yearly: a fantastic concept for the times. Up to the time of Copernicus the thinkers of the western world believed in the Ptolemiac theory that the universe was a closed space bounded by a spherical envelope beyond which there was nothing.

Consequences of the Modernist Liberal Abandonment of Classical Conceptions of Practical Philosophy

Essay by Thomas Bridges.  Theme: How the Enlightenment's transformation of moral philosophy into a field of theoretical knowledge wedded modernist civic culture to the "scientific world view."

This essay is only one of many on the Philosophy and Civil Society Website, a website about postmodern culture, based upon Bridges' book, The Culture of Citizenship- Inventing Postmodern Civic Culture.


Modern Philosophy After Kant

Essay by Kelly Ross.


Although pre-Kantian modern philosophy is easily (perhaps too easily) organized as a debate between Rationalists and Empiricists, modern philosophy after Kant presents a much greater tangle of influences. The Flow Chart of Modern Philosophy after Kant below attempts to produce some kind of organization and representation of schools and influences. Note that the Continental tradition spreads out into a least four major trends, which then begin to overlap with each other and, ultimately, with Anglo-American schools. The Anglo-American tradition, succeeding British Empiricism, exhibits relatively contentless and sterile doctrines, like "Pragmatism," then begins to adopt similar doctrines from the Continent, consistent with a native Scientism, like Logicism, Logical Positivism, and Linguistic Analysis, and then finally succumbs to a withering blast of Continental Nihilism from Existentialism and Deconstruction. A small Analytic remnant (people like Searle) is thus faced with a tide of skepticism, irrationalism, and obscurantism in a combined Anglo-American-Continental school of "Post-Modernism"--no attempt is made to comprehensively list representatives of this miserable movement.

Nicolas Malebranche

The Search After Truth (1674)

Includes sections:

Bk. 3, Pt. 2, Ch. 1-6
Bk. 6, Pt. 2, Ch. 3

Thomas Reid (1710-1996)

Fallible Foundationalism Theory of Knowledge:"We can say in general that the infallible foundations program carries with it the danger of skepticism, according to which we are not justified in accepting anything about an objective world. Berkeley's successor, David Hume, drove the point home explicitly. This engendered a reaction by the Scottish "common sense" school, whose brightest star was Thomas Reid (Lehrer's philosophical hero). It was proposed that common sense must be added to our subject states to provide the justification for those things we accept about an objective world."
The Epistemology of Mind A short historical overview of Reid and others.

Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834)



Going against the writings of Godwin and Rousseau, Malthus, in his famous work, An Essay on the Principle of Population, opined that poverty and distress are unavoidable because population increases faster than the means of subsistence. As checks on population growth, Malthus accepted only war, famine, and disease but later added moral restraint, as well. His theory, at the time of its pronouncement, was most controversial; however, it has not held much currency in the past century, or so; this, because population levels have not come up to the levels expected. The reason, I think, is because of the introduction of inexpensive and readily available birth control procedures; and, of course, because of cultural changes. Malthus, in addition, did not consider the new technology which has increased food production and its distribution. Yet, the world  population increases.

Voltaire (1694-1778)

The Voltaire Soceity of America website attempts to foster the spirit of the Enlightenment, tolerance and respect for the rights of the individual as examplified by the life of Voltaire and as reflected in the beliefs of his contemporaries, the founders of the United States.

Site Includes:

Poems dating from Voltaire's Swiss years

Also included is a list of other sites on the WWW:

The Voltaire Foundation, Oxford: publications and full list of scholarly activities
La Ville de Ferney-Voltaire (available in French or English), touristic and administrative information
Voltaire, nice intellectual portrait, presented in French by the French Ministère des Affaires Etrangères
A brief biographical sketch of Voltaire, presented by Lucidcafe
Voltaire's Page, a nice resource compiled by F. DeVenuto, including links to Barron's Booknotes on Candide, an essay by Clarence Darrow, and a review of the 1933 Hollywood film Voltaire
Collège Voltaire in Geneva
Interested in acquiring a bust of Voltaire for your mantlepiece? See Busts of Famous Freethinkers
Announcement of the recent acquisition of rare Voltaire editions by the New York Public Library, dated 15 October 1997
Voltairean Etexts:
Memnon,ou la Sagesse humaine (1749-1755; Athena)
Sermon des Cinquante (ed. J. Patrick Lee, Clandestine E-texts from the Eighteenth Century)
Poème sur la loi naturelle (1752; Athena)
Poème sur le Désastre de Lisbonne (1756; Athena)
Songe de Platon (1756; Athena)
Candide (1759; University of Virginia)
L'Éducation des filles (1761; Athena)
Traité sur la tolérance (1763; Athena)
Commentaire sur le livre des délits et des peines (1766; Athena)
Micromégas (France)
Selected gathered under the heading "Philosophical Dictionary", in English (Hanover College)
"De l'horrible danger de la lecture", a short satirical pamphlet
A large selection of polemical texts, prepared by Daniel Boudin
Robert Ingersoll's Oration On Voltaire (1894); an eloquent statement of personal conviction from a leading American Free Thinker


Modern Skepticism:  Encyclopedia of Philosophy


Since the publication of Popkin's History of Skepticism, the strong influence of Greek skepticism on modern philosophy is now an accepted fact. In this and other publications Popkin traces the impact of skepticism on modern philosophy from 16th century editions of Sextus Empiricus to its ultimate resolution in the writings of the "new Pyrrho": David Hume. With a half dozen publications of Sextus' writings in the 17th and 18th centuries, skepticism became a popular and important philosophical issue to the moderns. Many thinkers, particularly in France, carried the Pyrrhonian torch as passed to them through Sextus's writings. Included were Michel de Montaigne (who made specific use of the ten skeptical tropes of Aenesidemus), Pierre Charron, Petrus Gassendi (who is remembered for his critical letters to Descartes), Joseph Glanvill (who introduced Pyrrhonism to England), Walter Raleigh, Pierre-Daniel Huet, and, most significantly, Pierre Bayle. In his highly influential Historical and Critical Dictionary, Bayle wrote substantial entries on over two and a half thousand people -- from Adam and Eve to Spinoza -- and near two hundred entries on non-person topics. But he delivered his most influential skeptical arguments in the extended footnotes to his entries. Of particular importance were his entries on Eve, David, Pyrrho, the Manicheans, the Paulicans, Zeno, Pomponazzi, Xenophanes, Spinoza, Nicole, and Pellison.


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