An Anthology of Primary Sources
An Anthology of Primary Sources
Hackett Publishing Company
For David, Daniel, Christa, and Nicholas,
who we hope will find this anthology of use someday.
Copyright © 2009 by Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.
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Printed in the United States of America
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Modern philosophy : an anthology of primary sources / edited by Roger Ariew and Eric Watkins. — 2nd ed.
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN 978-0-87220-978-7 (pbk.) — ISBN 978-0-87220-979-4 (cloth)
1. Philosophy, Modern. I. Ariew, Roger. II. Watkins, Eric, 1964—
PRC ISBN: 978-1-62466-237-9
Note to the Second Edition
1. Descartes’ Meditations and Associated Texts
Montaigne, Apology for Raymond Sebond, “The Senses Are Inadequate”
Bacon, New Organon I, Aphorisms 1–3, 11–31, and 36–46
Galileo, The Assayer, “Corpuscularianism”
Descartes, Discourse on Method 1, 2, and 5
Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy
Descartes, Hobbes, and Arnauld, Objections and Replies II, III, and IV
Spinoza, Descartes’ Principles of Philosophy, “Prolegomenon” and “Definitions”
Leibniz, On Descartes (from the letters to Foucher, to Elisabeth, and to Molanus)
Pascal, Pensées, “The Wager”
2. Spinoza’s Ethics and Associated Texts
Hobbes, Leviathan, Introduction, 1–5, 34, and 46
Spinoza, From the Letters to Oldenburg and to Meyer (Letters 2, 12, and 32)
Spinoza, The Ethics, Parts I, II, and V
3. Leibniz’s Monadology and Associated Texts
Malebranche, The Search after Truth, III.2.1–4, 6, 7, VI.2.3, Elucid. 15
Leibniz, Discourse on Metaphysics
Leibniz, From the Letters to Arnauld
Leibniz, Primary Truths
Leibniz, A New System of Nature
Newton, Principia, “Scholium to Definitions” and “General Scholium,” and Optics, “Query 31”
Leibniz, From the Letters to Clarke (Letters 1–4)
4. Locke’s Essay and Associated Texts
Boyle, Of the Excellency and Grounds of the Corpuscular or Mechanical Philosophy
Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding I.1–2, II.1–14, 21–3, 27, III.3, 6, and IV.1–4, 10–1, 15–6
Leibniz, New Essays, Preface
5. Berkeley’s Three Dialogues and Associated Texts
Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge, Preface, Introduction, Part I sec. 1–33
Berkeley, Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous
Berkeley, On Motion, 1–6, 26–8, 35–41, 52–3, 66–7, and 71–2
6. Hume’s Enquiry and Associated Texts
Bayle, Dictionary, “Pyrrho,” Note B
Hume, Treatise On Human Nature Introduction, I.4.5–6
Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Parts 1–5 and 9–12
Reid, Inquiry into the Human Mind, Conclusion; and Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man, “Of Judgment,” Chapter 2: “Of Common Sense”
7. Kant’s Prolegomena and Critique of Pure Reason
Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics
Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, abridged
When G. W. Leibniz traveled to Paris in 1672, he found an intellectual environment in great turmoil. Leibniz was trained in Aristotelian (or scholastic)
philosophy, which had dominated European thought ever since the thirteenth century when the majority of the Aristotelian corpus was rediscovered and
translated from Greek and Arabic into Latin and then made compatible with Christian doctrine (by Thomas Aquinas and others). Until his trip to Paris,
Leibniz’s properly philosophical works consisted primarily of a thesis on the scholastic problem of the principle of individuation and the publication of a
new edition of an obscure 16th-century philosopher who had attempted to rehabilitate a more authentic Aristotelian philosophy from the “barbarism” of the
scholastics. But a philosophical revolution was taking place in mid-17th-century Paris. New scientific and philosophical doctrines had emerged from
Galileo Galilei, from René Descartes and his followers, from Francis Bacon, Blaise Pascal, Thomas Hobbes, and countless others. Scholastics had fought
back fiercely against the new philosophy and science; they had succeeded in getting Galileo condemned by the Catholic Church in 1633 and in putting
Descartes’ works on the Index of Prohibited Books in 1663. Still, the substantial forms and primary matter of the scholastics were giving way to a new
mechanistic world of geometrical bodies, corpuscles, or atoms in motion. With this world came novel mathematical tools and scientific methods for dealing
with its newly conceived entities. Old problems that seemed to have been resolved within a scholastic framework were raised again with new urgency:
what can one say about necessity, contingency, and freedom in a world of atoms governed by laws of motion? The structure of the universe, whether it is
finite or infinite, as well as the concepts of space and time, were up for grabs. Other basic philosophical issues were also keenly debated, including the
location of the soul, its immortality, God’s purpose in the creation, and his relation to the universe. With such a great intellectual upheaval came the
questioning of whether humans even have knowledge at all. Leibniz, of course, became a major contributor to this intellectual movement that defined the
modern world. In Paris, he read and copied Descartes’ manuscripts and sought out proponents of the new philosophy, such as Antoine Arnauld and
Nicholas Malebranche; his own later work was often precipitated by the correspondence he maintained with them and others such as Pierre Bayle. He
traveled to London and met members of the Royal Society (Henry Oldenberg and Robert Boyle, among others, though not Isaac Newton, with whom he
later corresponded). On his way back to Lower Saxony, he visited Baruch Spinoza in the Netherlands. Of course Leibniz did not have the opportunity to
interact with David Hume and Immanuel Kant; Hume was born just four years prior to Leibniz’s death and Kant almost a decade after that. Yet Leibniz
would have been quite interested in both of these figures’ acute, albeit radically divergent reflections on these philosophical developments. For Hume’s
empiricist approach led to a certain kind of skepticism, while Kant’s criticism of pure reason did not obviate completely the possibility of substantive
knowledge of the world.
Historians of philosophy often draw a broad picture of modern European philosophy, depicting two distinct camps: rationalists (Descartes, Spinoza, and
Leibniz) who emphasize reason at the expense of the senses, and empiricists (John Locke, George Berkeley, and Hume) who emphasize the senses after
rejecting innate ideas. This rudimentary picture is often filled out as follows. After calling into doubt seemingly all beliefs (especially those based on the
senses), Descartes, the father of modern philosophy, attempts to ground all of our knowledge on innate ideas he discovers and rationally reflects on within
himself, beginning with the idea he has of himself as a thinking thing (in the cogito). Accordingly, reason, by coming to a clear and distinct conception of
its own ideas, attempts to establish knowledge about the world with the same kind of absolute certainty, precision, and necessity attainable in mathematics.
While Spinoza and Leibniz revise and even reject some of Descartes’ fundamental principles, they both accept Descartes’ “rationalist” approach of
rejecting sensory ideas as inadequate or confused in favor of innate ideas, which alone can be adequate or clear and distinct to reason. In this way, it is
often claimed, Spinoza and Leibniz carry Descartes’ rationalist philosophy to its ultimate, logical conclusion.
Locke, by contrast, breaks with the rationalists’ approach by rejecting innate ideas and by claiming instead that the content of all of our mental states or
ideas must stem from experience, whether it be from sensation or reflection—a claim that more or less defines empiricism in this context. Locke rejects
innate ideas, not only because he cannot find any ideas that enjoy universal assent, but also because he thinks that philosophers often talk about ideas
without understanding clearly what meaning they have—an error encouraged by accepting innate ideas, since believing that an idea is innate precludes one
from determining its true origin and thus its precise meaning. Since Locke rejects innate ideas, he views the proper task of philosophy as one of analyzing
the precise meaning of the ideas we get from sensation and reflection and determining what we can come to know about the world purely on the basis of
these ideas. Just as Spinoza and Leibniz follow Descartes’ rationalist assumptions to their logical conclusions, so too, it is often claimed, Berkeley and
especially Hume correct the inconsistencies in Locke’s position, thus drawing out the proper consequences of Locke’s empiricist approach. (Often Kant is
presented as the culminating figure of modern philosophy with his attempt at synthesizing the rationalist and empiricist traditions, though Kant, too, was in
turn successively “corrected” by German Idealists, such as Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel.)
While there is some truth underlying this snapshot of the history of modern philosophy, one can, we think, discern a much more interesting and
significant picture of the importance of these philosophies by broadening one’s view beyond the issue of whether one should accept or reject reason (or
innate ideas) to include an account of other domains, such as science and religion.
Consider first the fact that Descartes accepts, whereas Locke rejects the claim that matter is infinitely divisible. Descartes’ claim that matter is infinitely
divisible is based (at least in part) on his view that matter is simply extended substance and that because we have an innate idea of extension, we can see
clearly and distinctly that it implies infinite divisibility. In short, Descartes’ position on the infinite divisibility of matter would seem to be based on his
doctrine of innate ideas insofar as our idea of extension is an innate idea. Since Locke rejects innate ideas, it is clear that such a justification would, in his
eyes, be mistaken. However, concerns about innate ideas can be only part of the story. For even if Locke must reject Descartes’ justification of the claim
that matter is infinitely divisible, he need not immediately reject the claim itself (even if he would have to search for a new justification for it). It is clear
that Locke is a corpuscularian (at least in part) because Boyle and Newton, that is, two of the most preeminent scientists of his day, presuppose
corpuscularian principles in their scientific theories and Locke believes that, at least in principle, philosophy and science ought to be able to tell a single
coherent story about the world. The importance of the scientific context is not, however, limited to Locke’s acceptance of corpuscularianism; a similar
explanation of the importance of the scientific context of the day could be developed for Locke’s distinction between “primary” and “secondary” qualities
as well as for his distinction between nominal and real essences.
Locke is not alone in having interests that extend beyond narrow epistemological issues. Consider also Berkeley’s and Hume’s attitudes toward religion.
One might think that the question of the meaning of the term God as well as the question of God’s existence would be a straightforward matter for a strict
empiricist. What empirical meaning can one ascribe to the idea of a perfect being endowed with infinite attributes (such as omnipotence, omniscience, and
omnibenevolence)? And what empirical evidence does one have for thinking that such a being actually exists? Hume’s account of our idea of God in §1 of
An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding develops an interesting answer to the former question, and Philo’s forcefully argued position in Hume’s
Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion famously expresses one very provocative empiricist response to the latter question (in the negative). Berkeley, by
contrast, believes that even if one cannot have an idea of God, one can form a notion of God, and there is no doubt in Berkeley’s mind that one can prove
God’s existence. In light of Hume’s powerful arguments, one might suspect that Berkeley, as an Anglican priest, simply could not admit the true
consequence of his own empiricist position with respect to God’s existence. (Here we would have an especially clear-cut case of Hume drawing out the
logical conclusion of Locke’s original empiricist assumptions.) However, it is crucial to note Hume’s and Berkeley’s different goals and thus different
versions of empiricism. Hume is interested exclusively in the laws that govern the relations that exist between ideas in our mind and refuses to speculate on
what outside the mind might cause the existence of our sensations. Berkeley, by contrast, is interested primarily in refuting materialists, atheists, and
skeptics and, as a part of that project, is very interested in determining what the cause of our sensations could be. Matter, as something inert, cannot be their
cause and we must therefore take recourse to a mind (or spirit), which, when supplemented with further argument, turns out to be God. Thus, from a
different point of view, it might seem that Berkeley’s empiricism improves upon Hume’s by being able to answer a question that Hume cannot, rather than
Hume correcting an inconsistency in Berkeley.
The point of these two brief examples is, we hope, clear. These philosophers are important figures in the history of modern philosophy for numerous
reasons, reasons that cannot be captured exhaustively in any simple story about a single topic, such as reason versus the senses (or innate ideas versus
sensations). Their texts are complex and rich, displaying divergent interests and goals. What makes them great philosophers and their texts significant
philosophical works is the novel and sophisticated way in which they articulate their different interests and attempt to render coherent what would appear to
be conflicting demands. Where we today share in their goals and interests, it is not impossible that they may help us to see more clearly truths that have
been obscured over the centuries, and where we do not, it can be instructive to see how we are different and to consider how we came to be so.
It is our hope that this anthology would be able to provide a glimpse of the complex and radical movement of thought from Descartes and his
contemporaries to Leibniz and his contemporaries (including Spinoza, Locke, and Berkeley), and ultimately to its culmination in Hume and Kant. For that
process, we have tried, as much as possible, to provide whole texts—i.e., Descartes’ Meditations, Leibniz’s Discourse and Monadology, Berkeley’s
Dialogues, Hume’s Inquiry, and Kant’s Prolegomena; unfortunately, Spinoza’s Ethics and Locke’s Essay have had to be excerpted. We have attempted to
surround these works with additional ones that would assist in understanding the primary sources—for example, selections from Hobbes’ Leviathan and
Malebranche’s Search after Truth, or portions of Descartes’ Discourse and the Objections and Replies to his Meditations. Along the way, we have tried to
provide alternatives to the “main” texts—for instance, Berkeley’s Principles and Kant’s Critique. Of course, we have had to make many difficult choices;
we hope we have supplied most, if not all the desired selections, and have not cast off too many of our readers’ favorites. We believe we have provided
enough materials for two semesters’ worth of modern philosophy, so that we think there should be sufficient contents with which to construct a variety of
single semester courses.
Another goal of ours was to achieve some consistency among texts—especially with Kant, where we were faced with different translations of the same
technical vocabulary. With Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz this was accomplished, we hope, by the use of the same translator for the various works of the
given philosopher (Donald Cress for Descartes, Samuel Shirley for Spinoza, and Roger Ariew and Daniel Garber for Leibniz). We have also attempted to
modernize and Americanize those primary texts originally written in English. We do not believe that students, who are typically given contemporary
translations of foreign-language texts, must wade through 17th- or 18th-century English works just because they were originally written in English in the
17th or 18th century. We have replaced archaic words and expressions with their modern equivalents: surface for superficies, up to now or previously for
hitherto, admit for own, gladly or inclined to for fain, endow for endue, etc.—not to mention what we have done to whereunto, therein, hark, hath and doth.
Perhaps the greatest change has been our endeavor to modernize the punctuation; we have adopted an open style of punctuation. A modernization we did
not undertake is the discarding of italics, that is, the use of upper-case words for emphasis, mention, etc. This early modern practice does not seem to be a
significant bar to comprehension for twenty-first century students. We also did not attempt to render historical texts into gender-neutral language. Of
course, some will inevitably feel that our modernization has been too extensive, while others might have wished that we had made even greater
emendations. We hope to have avoided both extremes, bearing in mind the needs of the readers for whom this anthology is intended.
We are very grateful to the authors and translators named in the footnotes at the start of each selection for permission to reproduce their materials.1 We
would also like to thank Karl Ameriks, Bill Davis, Daniel Garber, Marjorie Grene, Patricia Kitcher, Nelson Lande, Joseph Pitt, Tad Schmaltz, and Kenneth
Winkler for their many helpful suggestions concerning what selections to include. Finally, we wish to thank Deborah Wilkes at Hackett Publishing
Company, who suggested this project and saw it through to its completion two times over.
Note to the Second Edition
We have made numerous corrections to our anthology during the last decade. We still hope to have supplied most, if not all, our readers’ desired selections,
and not to have cast off too many of their favorites. For this second edition, we have added a few more sources, which we think our readers will find useful.
Here are the principal additions:
Montaigne, Apology for Raymond Sebond, “The Senses Are Inadequate”
Newton, Principia, “General Scholium,” and Optics, “Query 31”
Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Parts 1–5 and 9–12
Reid, Inquiry into the Human Mind, Conclusion, and Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man, “Of Judgment,” Chapter 2, Of Common Sense
We are grateful to all the readers who sent in suggestions and corrections and hope that they will continue to do so.
1. For the primary texts from Descartes through Berkeley, with the exception of Malebranche, footnotes are always the editors’. With Hume and Kant, the age when the use
of footnotes becomes common, all footnotes that the editors have inserted are in brackets.
1. DESCARTES’ MEDITATIONS AND ASSOCIATED TEXTS
René Descartes was born in 1596 at La Haye, in Touraine, France. He became one of the central in...
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