Letters from Modernitas

Teaching Philosophy 25 (4):311-321 (2002)
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This paper introduces “Modernitas”, a child of undefined gender who, having just read Descartes “Discourse on Method” and “Meditations” begins a series of letter to students (who take the role of Modernitas’ parents) asking them to solve various problems posed by Cartesian philosophy, e.g. how to get out Descartes’ nightmare of doubt. Students are tasked with responding to Modernitas’s initial difficulities with Descartes’s philosophy and receive follow-up letters about other philosophers, e.g. Aristotle, Sartre, Plato. This type of exercise has the benefit of keeping students writing the entire semester and is capable of showing students that topics dealt with in philosophy courses are more than mere academic exercises but have real practical relevance.



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