April 28, 2002

Kitcher, Patricia Silver_nugget
[PHIL V2201] History of Philosophy II: Aquinas to Kant

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

You will not love this class. You may like it, you may think it's ok, but you won't think it's great. I cannot say anything against Kitcher as a person: she's very nice, approachable, and extremely tolerant of her students' absolutely moronic and masturbatory questions that often monopolize the class and totally divert the discussion, precluding you from actually learning anything. That's one problem anyway: she never shoots anyone down. What should be a lecture often becomes a FIFTY person seminar-- not exactly a good way to learn. Her lectures are easy to follow, but in no way systematic. I found her clarifications helpful, but wanted a more in-depth and detailed account. Another problem: the philosophers we studied at the beginning of the course (Spinoza and Leibniz in particular) are maddeningly obtuse. Anyone interested in making accusations that philosophy is pointlessly speculative need look no further. On the other hand, the material gets better: Hume and Kant are brilliant, and do a lot to undermine the ridiculously stupid positions of their predecessors, which is fun to watch, in a vengeful sort of way. Moreover these texts have a lot of intrinsic value. Studying Kant in particular has exposed me to a whole knew way of thinking about things. In the final analysis, though the class was pretty mediocre, it gave me the introductory information I wanted. It could have been better, but so what?

Workload:

not bad, assuming you don't fall behind, like I did. about 6 hours of reading per week in a massive and unwieldy text book, two papers, 4-6 pages, and 5-8 pages, midterm, final. light grader.