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

As taught in: Spring 2003

A painting of a man sitting, looking out a window.

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

Level:

Undergraduate

Instructors:

Prof. Alvin Kibel

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.