European Academic Philosophy during the 16th and 17th Centuries

(Erläuterungen von Prof. Dr. Joseph S. Freedman zu seinen Lehrveranstaltungen hier im Sommersemester 2006)


The Vorlesung, the Proseminar and the Hauptseminar bearing this title all will focus on European Academic philosophy. During the 16th and 17th centuries, academic philosophy — i.e.., philosophy as taught at academic institutions — comprised the following academic disciplines: metaphysics, physics, mathematics, ethics, family life (oeconomica), politics, academic travel (apodemica), logic, rhetoric, grammar, poetics, and history. The historical, institutional, and curricular contexts of this philosophy / these philosophical disciplines also will be discussed. Students will choose one of more of these philosophical disciplines — which serve as the historical antecedents of most of the academic disciplines taught at 21st century universities — as the principal focus of their oral and written work.

Complementary to the Proseminar / Hauptseminar a number of excursions — within as well as beyond München — are planned.

Detailed Description:

A. Texts to be Used;
B. Requirements;
C. Detailed Content Description;
D. Excursions;
E. Projected Audience (students in philosophy, history, Germanistik, pedagogy);
F. Instructor: Contact Information

A. Texts to be Used

1. Textbook

The instructor will prepare a textbook with the title "European Academic Philosophy during the Sixteenth and Centuries, " which will be between 200 and 300 pages in length. The bulk of this material has been utilized by the instructor over the previous 10 years for instructional purposes in Europe as well as in the United States. A preliminary version of this textbook was published — with the title Deutsche Schulphilosophie im Reformationszeitalter (1500-1650). Ein Handbuch für den Hochschulunterricht — in 1984 (Second Edition: 1985).

2. Primary Source Materials

Ideally, students will use primary source materials published in Latin, which the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek and the Universitätsbibliothek München possess in large quantities. However, knowledge of Latin is not required the instructor will make available his own collection of German language texts in microfiche format, some of which may be available at Munich libraries.

B. Requirements: 1. Oral Presentation; 2. Specialized Paper; 3. General Paper

1. Oral Presentation

Each student enrolled in the Hauptseminar and the Proseminar will be required to give an oral presentation on a specialized topic — pertaining to academic philosophy during the 16th and 17th centuries — on a topic of his/her choice selected in consultation with the instructor. Normally, this oral presentation will be based on the use relevant primary source materials (see A. 2. above)

2. Specialized Paper

The oral presentation will serve as the detailed outline for a research paper written on the same topic as the oral presentation. The paper will have a minimum text length of 6 pages (Proseminar students) or a mininum text length of 15 pages (Hauptseminar students).

3. General Paper

At the conclusion of this course, each student will be asked to write a short paper (text thereof: at least 4 pages in length) in which the subject-matter of Proseminar / Hauptseminar and (if applicable) the Vorlesung are discussed in general terms. Students will be asked to relate that which they have learned in this Proseminar / Hauptseminar / Vorlesung to the previous academic study and/or professional experience; they may also wish to relate what they have learned to their future plans. For the purpose of writing this paper, each student will freely select aspects of this subject-matter (i.e., academic philosophy during the 16th and 17th centuries) which he/she deems to be appropriate.

C. Detailed Content Description

The textbook — to be prepared by the instructor — for this course will be used for the Vorlesung as well as for the Proseminar / Hauptseminar.

This textbook will contain sections on 1. academic philosophy considered as a whole, 2. individual philosophical disciplines, 3. historical background, 4. summaries of selected 16th and 17th century philosophical curricula at (mostly Central European) academic institutions), 5. historical research methodology (as relevant to the subject-matter of 16th and 17th century academic philosophy), 6. a selection of illustrations taken from relevant 16th and 17th century texts.

In addition, appendices will contain handouts will accompany most of the lecture material contained within the Vorlesung. This will include material needed for lectures on A. women and the gender in 16th and 17th century philosophical writings, B. philosophical writings on the family in 16th and 17th century Europe, C. the utilization of philosophical writings by Philipp Melanchthon in the decades following his death; D. Hugo Grotiusís Philosophical Viewpoints within the Context of Academic Philosophy during the Late 16th and Early 17th Centuries; E. biographical research on 16th and 17th century academic authors (Gelehrte); this latter lecture will also contain some discussion of the history of the concepts of method and scientific method during the early modern period.

Much of the content of this textbook — especially within Sections 1, 2, and 5 as well as within Appendices A through E — will be presented in the form of dichotomous charts. These charts were widely used during the 16th and 17th centuries; in addition, their use will greatly facilitate students in acquiring an understanding of the highly diverse and detailed subject matter that comprises 16th and 17th century academic philosophy.

Some additional comments pertaining to Sections 1, 2, and 4 are given here.

1. academic philosophy considered as a whole (Section 1 above)

Using examples of classifications of philosophical disciplines presented by a selection of 16th and 17th century authors, the evolution of the concept of philosophy during these two centuries will be discussed and placed into the broader context of how philosophy is understood in general terms.

2. individual philosophical disciplines (Section 2 above)

Philosophical disciplines — most of which can also be referred to as "arts" disciplines — during the 16th and 17th centuries include metaphysics, physics, mathematics (including arithmetic, geometry, astronomy / astrology, music, cosmography / geography, optics / perspective), ethics, family life (oeconomica), politics, logic, rhetoric, grammar, poetics, history, and physiognomy. Mathematics, poetics, and grammar will be given relatively little attention; however, students are strongly encouraged to select specialized texts in these as well as in other academic disciplines.

3. summaries of selected 16th and 17th century philosophical curricula (Section 4 above)

Summaries of selected philosophical curricula — selected mostly from Central European schools and universities — will highlight the organization structure and the content of that instruction as well as how this structure and this content evolved in the course of the 16th and 17th centuries.

D. Excursions

Proseminar / Hauptseminar will be accompanied by a number of excursions. Tentatively, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, the Jesuit library and archives, and the Universitätsarchiv will be visited as well as one or more repositories in Eichstätt and in Salzburg.

The purpose of these excursions will be to acquaint students with primary source materials (printed works, manuscripts, and archival materials) as well as with an understanding of various ways in which these primary sources / collections thereof are organized.

E. Projected Audience

During the 16th and 17th centuries, European universities consisted of up to fourfaculties: 1. Arts / Philosophy, 2. Medicine, 3. Jurisprudence; 4. Theology. Almost all of the academic disciplines taught at present-day universities have evolved — at least in part — from the arts / philosophy faculty. As a consequence, academic philosophy during the 16th and 17th centuries is of potential interest to a wide range of individuals. Students in philosophy, history, Germanistik and pedagogy — in potentially to students in other disciplines as well — will be able to pursue research topics relevant to their own academic interests within the context of my Proseminar / Hauptseminar.

F. Instructor: Contact Information

Since I will not be arriving in Munich until shortly before my instruction begins, I encourage potential students having questions and/or interested in additional information pertaining to my Vorlesung, Proseminar and Hauptseminarto contact me at any time prior to my arrival in Munich. I can be contacted directly at (or) via Dr. Heinrich Kuhn (Seminar fuer Geistesgeschichte und Philosophie der Renaissance) at

Autor: Prof. Dr. Joseph S. Freedman (
Redaktion, Kontakt für Organisatorisches: Dr. Heinrich C. Kuhn (
Dokument erstellt: 2006-03-29
Dokument geändert: 2006-03-29