The good bishop voted off the island

Fri 04 May 2007 01:48 AM

I had my last real class meeting for 17th&18th Century Philosophy yesterday. I asked variants of my usual end-of-term questions:

Are there any of the authors we studied that you thought were insightful and valuable to read now, in the 21st century?

Are there any of the authors we studied that you think are just relics, mere historical curiosities with nothing insightful to offer?

Students were allowed to list as many or as few philosophers in each column as they wanted, and they were allowed to leave philosophers in the indeterminate middle. After having students write down their answers, I took a show of hands. Out of 25 total students, here are the results:

yay boo

Descartes 10 7

Locke 9 2

Berkeley 7 9

Hume 15 0

Kant 11 4

I was a bit surprised. I would have guessed that some students would have been turned off by the anti-religious parts of Hume's Enquiry, and classes in the past have found Berkeley's arguments intriguing (if not convincing).