June 03, 2003

Mercer, Christia Silver_nugget
[PHIL V2201] History of Philosophy II: Aquinas to Kant

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

Mediocre, mediocre, mediocre. The course was fine, but there are so many better classes in the philosophy department that I cannot recommend it. Although Mercer made many attempts to enliven the class, her delivery seemed forced. The conflict between dogmatic rationalism and empirical skepticism was frequently superceded by the conflict between pleasurable slumber and agonizing consciousness.
Mercer seemed to be afraid of going too fast. The result was a superficial discussion of the basic themes of the texts with repeated emphasis on basic points (for example, people use skepticism to undermine dogmatismÂ… duh), which left little time for discussion of the subtleties. Also, the course left out a lot. No discussion of monads or the principle of sufficient reason for Leibniz (especially strange considering she is a Leibniz scholar). No discussion of Locke at all. On the good side, Descartes, Hume, and Kant are covered well (principally because the readings for these three were the most extensive). Mercer limited the class to metaphysics, which was a good choice since there is so much stuff during this period. Also, Professor Mercer is incredibly nice and unbelievably accessible outside of class.
There should be more reading in this course, especially for Bacon and Leibniz.

Workload:

2 papers, midterm, final. Contrary to other reviewers, I found this class easy. The reading is minimal and the midterm and final test your basic comprehension of the material. There is nothing tricky, so I donÂ’t know what people are complaining about in that regard. Grading inconsistency? Whatever. Papers also require a basic comprehension and discussion of philosophical problems. Mercer writes good, specific questions. Both she and the TA are helpful in office hours.