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Grant number like: FW-50081-09

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Jennifer Kirsten Uleman
Purchase College, SUNY (Purchase, NY 10577-1402)

Teaching Development Fellowships
Research Programs

$12,600 (approved)
$12,600 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2009 – 8/31/2009

Descartes to Kant in Context

I propose research to reinvigorate my course, "History of Philosophy II: Descartes to Kant." My syllabus currently uses primary texts by Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Hume and Kant. My own research (focused on Kant) increasingly works to make sense of arguments that seem overly complicated, weak, or even bizarre by recapturing the religious, scientific, and/or political preoccupations that inform them. I propose work to deepen my understanding of early modern religion, science, and politics so I can bring greater attention to these contexts into the classroom. Far from 'radically relativizing' philosophers' views, attention to context helps reveal deep structures of rationality: good philosophers rarely make claims that don't stand to reason, once the context and relevant preoccupations are understood. Students in all text-based disciplines benefit from an approach that treats texts as extended arguments about and engagements with the wider world.