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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:

bulletThe Enlightenment
bulletMoral Philosophy
bulletPhilosophy of Mind
bulletPhilosophy of Religion
bulletPhilosophy 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: 

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

bulletFrancis Bacon
bulletGeorge Berkeley
bulletRene Descartes
bulletDavid Hume
bulletGottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz
bulletJohn Locke
bulletMichel de Montaigne
bulletSir Isaac Newton
bulletJean-Jacques Rousseau
bulletAdam 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:

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

Thomas Reid (1710-1996)

bulletFallible 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."
bulletThe 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:

bulletPoems dating from Voltaire's Swiss years

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

bulletThe Voltaire Foundation, Oxford: publications and full list of scholarly activities
bulletLa Ville de Ferney-Voltaire (available in French or English), touristic and administrative information
bulletVoltaire, nice intellectual portrait, presented in French by the French Ministère des Affaires Etrangères
bulletA brief biographical sketch of Voltaire, presented by Lucidcafe
bulletVoltaire'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
bulletCollège Voltaire in Geneva
bulletInterested in acquiring a bust of Voltaire for your mantlepiece? See Busts of Famous Freethinkers
bulletAnnouncement of the recent acquisition of rare Voltaire editions by the New York Public Library, dated 15 October 1997
bulletVoltairean Etexts:
bulletMemnon,ou la Sagesse humaine (1749-1755; Athena)
bulletSermon des Cinquante (ed. J. Patrick Lee, Clandestine E-texts from the Eighteenth Century)
bulletPoème sur la loi naturelle (1752; Athena)
bulletPoème sur le Désastre de Lisbonne (1756; Athena)
bulletSonge de Platon (1756; Athena)
bulletCandide (1759; University of Virginia)
bulletL'Éducation des filles (1761; Athena)
bulletTraité sur la tolérance (1763; Athena)
bulletCommentaire sur le livre des délits et des peines (1766; Athena)
bulletMicromégas (France)
bulletSelected gathered under the heading "Philosophical Dictionary", in English (Hanover College)
bullet"De l'horrible danger de la lecture", a short satirical pamphlet
bulletA large selection of polemical texts, prepared by Daniel Boudin
bulletRobert 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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