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Modern Philosophy Bundle (21 vols.)
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Overview

The Modern Philosophy Bundle features the core texts of modern Western philosophy in 21 volumes. Revisit Descartes’ cogito, engage Hume’s critique of rationalism, and study Kant’s Copernican turn—arguments and themes that continue to define the trajectory of philosophical thought today. This bundle also includes the Noet Philosophy Presentation Media—timelines and quote slides for use as personal study tools or teaching aids. The bundle comprises three collections:

What is the nature of knowledge? The continental rationalists argued that knowledge does not come primarily through the senses, but through reason. According to Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, the mind contains innate ideas that are the foundation for, and structure of, knowledge. In order to attain truth, one must apply reason to these innate ideas. In contrast, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume argued that humans can derive knowledge only from sense experience. Known as empiricism, this way of understanding knowledge revolutionized Western philosophy.

Drawing on the thinking of both groups, Kant argued that humans gain knowledge of the external world though experience; however, innate concepts in human reason shape that knowledge, giving it structure and form. This synthesis has had a vast effect on modern philosophy—Kant is known by many as the most influential philosopher since the Greeks.

With works by the rationalists, the empiricists, and the man who drew upon both, this bundle offers a framework for understanding and sharing seventeenth- and eighteenth-century philosophical thought.

Key Features

  • 21 volumes containing the seminal works of modern philosophy
  • Introductions, summaries, indexes, and biographical notes by the editors
  • Teaching tools and visual aids from Noet Philosophy Presentation Media

Individual Titles

The Method, Meditations, and Philosophy of Descartes

  • Author: René Descartes
  • Translator: John Vietch
  • Publisher: M. Walter Dunne
  • Publication Date: 1901
  • Pages: 371

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

The Method, Meditations, and Philosophy of Descartes contains three of Descartes most important works: Discourse on the Method, Meditations, and selections from Principles of Philosophy. Together, these three books make up the core of Cartesian epistemology. In the Discourse on the Method, Descartes lays out his method for acquiring knowledge by way of an autobiographical sketch of his own intellectual development. In Meditations, Descartes structures his method for arriving at certain knowledge in the form of six meditations that take place over six days. In Principles of Philosophy, Descartes gives a thorough summary of his philosophical system and shows how that philosophy is the basis for his scientific system.

The Principles of Descartes’ Philosophy

  • Author: Baruch Spinoza
  • Translator: Halbert Hains Britan
  • Publisher: The Open Court Publishing Company
  • Publication Date: 1905
  • Pages: 177

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

In The Principles of Descartes’ Philosophy, Spinoza claims to offer an interpretation and explanation of Descartes’ work for the sake of his student. He emphatically denies that the thought represented in the work is his own. As such, the work is an important commentary on the thought of Descartes. However, the work is also important for understanding the mind of Spinoza. The way that Spinoza goes about explaining Descartes says as much about Spinoza as it does about Descartes. This book was the only book published under his own name during his lifetime.

The Chief Works of Benedict de Spinoza, vol. 1

  • Author: Baruch Spinoza
  • Translator: R. H. M. Elwes
  • Publisher: George Bell and Sons
  • Publication Date: 1891
  • Pages: 387

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

The first volume of The Chief Works of Benedict de Spinoza contains Spinoza’s Theologico-Political Treatise and Political Treatise. In the Theologico-Political Treatise, Spinoza draws heavily on Moses Maimonides and offers a substantial critique on Judaism and organized religion, arguing for the necessary separation of faith and philosophy. He also offers a critique of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and lays out the methodology for biblical textual criticism. In the second part of the treatise he lays out a political philosophy, drawing heavily on the work of Thomas Hobbes. Spinoza deals with the nature of the state and the social contract as well as the necessary conditions for religious tolerance. While the Theological-Political Treatise was written for theologians, the Political Treatise is written for philosophers. It covers similar ground as the former book, filling it out and generalizing it a bit more.

The Chief Works of Benedict de Spinoza, vol. 2

  • Author: Baruch Spinoza
  • Translator: R. H. M. Elwes
  • Publisher: George Bell and Sons
  • Publication Date: 1891
  • Pages: 420

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

The Chief Works of Benedict de Spinoza, vol. 2 includes Spinoza’s magnum opus, Ethics, and select letters. In the first part of Ethics, Spinoza discusses the relationship between God and the universe. He argues that everything in the universe, humans included, is a mode of God. In other words, everything is logically dependent upon God for existence. Everything flows from God in the same way that it flows from the nature of a triangle that the sum of the angles equals 180 degrees. The second part of Ethics discusses the relationship between the human mind and the body. In particular, Spinoza attacks the Cartesian view that the mind and body are two different substances. In the third part of Ethics, Spinoza argues that everything fights to continue being. This fight motivates human emotion. In the fourth part, Spinoza says that the emotions control all actions of human beings. In the fifth and final part of Ethics, Spinoza maintains that we can rid ourselves of negative/damaging emotions by thinking the right thoughts. The volume contains 75 of Spinoza’s letters.

Discourse on Metaphysics, Correspondence with Arnauld, and Monadology

  • Author: Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz
  • Translator: George R. Montgomery
  • Publisher: The Open Court Publishing Company
  • Publication Date: 1902
  • Pages: 272

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Discourse on Metaphysics, Correspondence with Arnauld, and Monadology contains Leibniz’s most important philosophical works. In Discourse on Metaphysics, Leibniz looks at the nature of physical substance, motion, and God’s place in the universe. He argues that God is an absolutely perfect being; that, while God is good, goodness and God are separate things; and that, all things considered, God created the best world possible. The correspondence with Arnauld is a series of letters between Leibniz and the French Roman Catholic theologian Antoine Arnauld, discussing similar topics as Discourse. In Monadology, Leibniz attacks the Cartesian assertion that mind and body are two separate substances that communicate with each other. Leibniz argued that the whole universe is made of many little substances called monads. The monads are programmed to act in certain ways, and the actions of each monad are coordinated with the actions of all the other monads. This gives the impression of communication between substances when actually it is just a pre-established harmony.

An Essay concerning Human Understanding, vol. 1

  • Author: John Locke
  • Editor: Alexander Campbell Fraser
  • Publisher: Clarendon Press
  • Publication Date: 1894
  • Pages: 535

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Volume one contains books I and II of Locke’s essay. In book I, Locke directly attacks the theory of innate knowledge held by Descartes and other continental rationalists. He argued that, at conception, the human mind was a blank slate (tabula rasa). All the ideas and principles in the mind were created by each person’s experience of the world. Descartes and the other continental rationalists held that knowledge could be reached through pure reason, apart from experience, because the human mind had innate principles—ideas and concepts that were there from birth.

In book II, Locke puts forward his theory of ideas. He argues that all ideas come from two different types of experience: sensation and reflection. He distinguishes between simple ideas (red, round) and complex ideas (apple). He also distinguishes between primary and secondary qualities. A primary quality is something which is actually attributable to a thing (solidity) and a secondary quality is a quality which the particular thing produces in the human observer (such as smell). Locke uses his understanding of simple and complex ideas to form an argument for the existence of God.

An Essay concerning Human Understanding, vol. 2

  • Author: John Locke
  • Editor: Alexander Campbell Fraser
  • Publisher: Clarendon Press
  • Publication Date: 1894
  • Pages: 495

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Volume two contains books III and IV of An Essay concerning Human Understanding. In book III, Locke presents his theory of language. He connects words with the ideas they signify. He then critiques the abuse of words by philosophers who make up new words not connected to a clear idea or connect old words to new ideas.

In book IV, Locke lays out his general theory of knowledge. He defines knowledge as the sum of one’s ideas and perceptions. He looks at the limits of knowledge and the divide between purported knowledge and reality—the divide, in other words, between a person’s claim of knowledge (based on their experience) and reality, which might not correspond to that knowledge.

The Reasonableness of Christianity, as Delivered in the Scriptures

  • Author: John Locke
  • Publisher: C. and J. Rivington
  • Publication Date: 1824
  • Pages: 431

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

In The Reasonableness of Christianity, as Delivered in the Scriptures, Locke sets out to apply empiricism to the Bible. He argues that everything in Scripture agrees with human reason, that there is nothing unreasonable about Christ’s claims to divinity or the reports of miracles, and that the core beliefs of the Christian faith are clearly visible in Scripture. As such, Scripture provides a good basis for establishing agreement and tolerance between Christians.

A Treatise concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge

  • Author: George Berkeley
  • Editor: Charles P. Krauth
  • Publisher: J. B. Lippincott Company
  • Publication Date: 1881
  • Pages: 424

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

In A Treatise concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, Berkeley repudiates Locke’s theory of human perception. Where Locke argued that ideas come from one’s experience of an external, material world, Berkeley argued that the world itself is composed only of ideas. Berkeley held that ideas can only resemble other ideas: an idea in the human mind can only resemble an idea in the external world, not a material object. Consequently, Berkeley argued, being necessitates perception by a perceiver.

Going further, Berkeley argued that it is impossible to prove the existence of material objects external to the self, since all knowledge comes through one’s senses and therefore gives only knowledge of those senses. He argued that Locke’s assertion that primary qualities exist in abstraction, and are therefore knowable only through secondary qualities, was mistaken. It is only possible to know the qualities that are immediately perceptible to the human mind. If they are not directly perceptible (as Locke’s primary qualities were), then there is no way to know them and, therefore, we cannot say that they exist.

Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous

  • Author: George Berkeley
  • Editor: Thomas J. McCormack
  • Publisher: The Open Court Publishing Company
  • Publication Date: 1906
  • Pages: 136

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

In Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous, Berkeley sets up a Socratic dialogue between his own idealist views, in the person of Philonous (“lover of mind”), and the more Lockean views of Hylas (“matter”). Philonous argues that, while it is common sense to assume that the objects you perceive are real, it is against common sense to assume that those objects exist independent of perception. Through Philonous, Berkeley puts forward his “master argument.” The argument is essentially that it is impossible truly to conceive of an object outside of the mind because in the very act of trying to conceive of that object it is in the mind.

Berkeley also puts forward his theory that God is the perceptive mind that is always present and, therefore, is the mind that gives sensible qualities to objects. God groups various perceptions together. For example, humans experience the perception “touching water” and “feeling wet” at the same time. These patterns of perception are the subject of scientific study and described as laws of nature. However, they are not qualities which are inherent to an abstract material object. They are only assigned to objects by the mind of God.

A Treatise of Human Nature

  • Author: David Hume
  • Editor: L. A. Selby-Bigge
  • Publisher: Clarendon Press
  • Publication Date: 1888
  • Pages: 709

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A Treatise of Human Nature comprises three sections: “Of the Understanding,” “Of the Passions,” and “Of Morals.”

In “Of the Understanding,” Hume argues that complex ideas are formed from simple ideas, which are formed from impressions based on direct experience. Hume divides impressions into two categories: original and secondary. Original refers to internal impressions that reach us through our senses from physical sources, and secondary impressions are based on the original impressions. Hume argues that experience must be the basis for “matters of fact”; they cannot be approached by reasoning. If we have no direct experience of a concept (such as the size of the universe), that concept is not meaningful. For this reason, Hume argued that since we have no direct experience of God or the soul we cannot have any meaningful knowledge of them.

In “Of the Passions,” Hume returns to his distinction between original and secondary impressions, arguing that the passions are in the latter. Hume distinguishes between direct and indirect passions, and within those categories, separates the cause and object of various passions. Hume argues that passions are related not to reason but to action. Human action is motivated not by reason but by passions. As such, morality cannot be based on reason.

In “Of Morals,” Hume builds on the previous two books, arguing that the two categories of morals—vice and virtue—are based on impressions rather than ideas: vice on the impression of pain, and virtue on the impression of pleasure. He argues that moral impressions come only from human actions and are valid only insofar as they apply socially. Consequently, sympathy, argues Hume, is the basis for moral obligation. Morality, says Hume, is not a direct matter of fact, based on direct experience of the physical world. Though reason can help understand morality it cannot be the basis for it.

An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding

  • Author: David Hume
  • Publisher: The Open Court Publishing Company
  • Publication Date: 1924
  • Pages: 267

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In An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, Hume presents the main arguments in A Treatise of Human Nature in a shorter, more polemical form. He makes the same distinction between ideas and impressions. He argues that ideas are made up of impressions through resemblance, contiguity, and cause and effect. Hume builds the same case that meaningful terms must be built on ideas that are built on impressions. In the light of the epistemology he puts forward, Hume examines questions of free will, the reason of animals, and miracles.

I freely admit that the remembrance of David Hume was the very thing that many years ago first interrupted my dogmatic slumber and gave a completely different direction to my researches in the field of speculative philosophy.

—Immanuel Kant

An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals

  • Author: David Hume
  • Publisher: The Open Court Publishing Company
  • Publication Date: 1912
  • Pages: 169

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In An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, David Hume builds on the concept of morals he put forward in A Treatise of Human Nature. He examines the contributions of moral sense and reason to the moral judgment of humans. He divides moral sense into categories of vice and virtue. He then divides virtue into categories of artificial and natural virtues. Artificial virtues come from and are enforced by society. Natural virtues are universal, as they come out of nature. Hume further divides natural virtues into voluntary and involuntary virtues. He reaffirms his earlier assertion that passions (moral sense), not reason, cause human action. He goes a bit further here in adding utility into the equation. He argues that passions combine with utility (or usefulness) to motivate moral action. Hume argues that benevolence plays an important role in virtue because benevolent acts offer the most utility for the greatest number of people.

Dialogues concerning Natural Religion

  • Author: David Hume
  • Editor: Bruce M’Ewen
  • Publisher: William Blackwood and Sons
  • Publication Date: 1907
  • Pages: 191

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In Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, Hume creates a dialogue between Demea, Philo, and Cleanthes to discuss the existence and nature of God. As all three characters acknowledge the nature of God, their discussion focuses on the ability of human reason to know about God using the evidence available in nature. Demea is the Orthodox Christian, arguing that it is impossible to know God’s nature at all, especially through nature. Philo, the skeptic, largely agrees with Demea. Cleanthes, the Humean character, argues the empirical theist position. He uses various arguments, including an argument from design, to claim that it is possible to know about God’s nature by applying reason to the evidence of the natural world.

Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics

  • Author: Immanuel Kant
  • Translator: Paul Carus
  • Publisher: The Open Court Publishing Company
  • Publication Date: 1912
  • Pages: 301

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Published after Critique of Pure Reason, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics restates and summarizes many of the main arguments. Kant also applies what he calls an “analytic” method, with a view to making his ideas clearer. The book also argues for the importance of Critique of Pure Reason and rebuts a negative review.

Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Ethics

  • Author: Immanuel Kant
  • Translator: Thomas Kingsmill Abbott
  • Publisher: Longmans, Green, and Co.
  • Publication Date: 1895
  • Pages: 102

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Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Ethics is an extraction of various central concepts of Kant’s theory of ethics. Mainly taken from the Critique of Practical Reason, the book argues for the a priori existence of moral structure in the human mind. In this book, Kant lays the groundwork for his later ethical philosophy.

The Critique of Pure Reason

  • Author: Immanuel Kant
  • Translator: F. Max Müller
  • Publisher: Macmillan and Co.
  • Publication Date: 1881
  • Pages: 808

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

The Critique of Pure Reason is the first of Immanuel Kant’s three critiques. In it, Kant seeks to establish what human reason is capable of knowing without the senses. Kant argues that while reason is capable of arriving at some truths, it is not capable of comprehensive knowledge. Rather, says Kant, our understanding of reality comes by our mind shaping our sense experience. Our sense of time makes us see the world as temporal. Kant argues that it is impossible to have certain knowledge of a thing “in itself.” We can have accurate knowledge, but it is shaped by our perceiving minds.

One of the most influential works in the history of philosophy.

The Oxford Companion to Philosophy

The Critique of Practical Reason

  • Author: Immanuel Kant
  • Translator: Thomas Kingsmill Abbott
  • Publisher: Longmans, Green, and Co.
  • Publication Date: 1898
  • Pages: 368

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

The second of the three critiques, The Critique of Practical Reason, takes up the subject of moral philosophy. Kant argues that the fundamental rule of morality is that it holds universally. He criticizes previous ethicists for saying that the moral person is working toward the greatest good rather than that the greatest good is the thing the moral person is aiming for. Morality determines the greatest good, not the other way around. Kant concludes the work with a plan for moral education.

The Critique of Judgment

  • Author: Immanuel Kant
  • Translator: J. H. Bernard
  • Publisher: Macmillan
  • Publication Date: 1892
  • Pages: 429

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

The Critique of Judgment, Kant’s third critique, takes up the subject of aesthetics. Kant divided the book into two parts: critique of aesthetic judgment and critique of teleological judgment. In the first part, Kant examines four “reflective judgments” about aesthetics: the agreeable, the beautiful, the sublime, and the good. The second part discusses the method of judging things according to their purpose or telos.

Religion within the Boundary of Pure Reason

  • Author: Immanuel Kant
  • Translator: J. W. Semple
  • Publisher: Thomas Clark
  • Publication Date: 1838
  • Pages: 275

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Religion within the Boundary of Pure Reason is divided into four “Pieces” that Kant originally intended to publish as a series of journal articles. The book discusses the place of rational religion, which forms the underlying skeleton of religion. The various historical religions are then discussed with attention to their ability to communicate the precepts of rational religion to the people.

Noet Philosophy Presentation Media

  • Publication Date: 2013

Noet Philosophy Presentation Media is a collection of timelines and quote slides for use as personal study tools or teaching aids. Add visual interest and key information to any philosophy presentation.

Product Details

  • Title: Modern Philosophy Bundle
  • Volumes: 21
  • Pages: 7,267

About the Authors

René Descartes (1596–1650) was a mathematician, philosopher, and writer. He is known both as the father of modern philosophy and as the father of analytical geometry. He is best known for his statement “cogito ergo sum” or “I think, therefore, I am.” Following Galileo’s condemnation by the Roman Catholic Church in 1633, Descartes decided to postpone the publication of his Treatise on the World for nearly four years (and even then he separated it into a number of different books). During this time, he carried on an extensive correspondence with Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia. Descartes was invited to Stockholm to tutor Queen Christina of Sweden. He died there of pneumonia and, as a Roman Catholic living in Protestant nation, was buried in a graveyard for unbaptized infants. His remains were later transferred to Paris. Pope Alexander VII placed the works of Descartes on the banned books list in 1663.

Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677) was born in the Jodenbuurt in Amsterdam, Netherlands. His philosophy laid the foundation for the eighteenth-century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism. Spinoza grew up in a Portuguese community of Sephardic Jews in Amsterdam. His father was a successful trader. He attended the Keter Torah Yeshiva until he was 17. Leaving the yeshiva early, Spinoza began studying with the freethinker, former Jesuit, and accused atheist Frances van den Enden. Spinoza adopted the Latin name Benedictus de Spinoza, moved in to van den Enden’s house, and began teaching at van den Enden’s school in Amsterdam. During this time, Spinoza associated with Mennonites and a group of anti-clerical Catholics, known as Remonstrants. Following his father’s death in 1654, Spinoza ran the family business with his brother Abraham, leaving after a few years to pursue philosophy. In 1656, Spinoza was expelled from the Jewish community for heresy. Following this expulsion, Spinoza focused on writing, studying and his work as a lens grinder. In 1676, Spinoza completed his primary philosophical work, Ethics. He died in 1677 of lung disease.

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646–1716) was born in Leipzig, Saxony, at the end of the Thirty Years War. His father was a professor of moral philosophy at the University of Leipzig. Leibniz attended the University of Leipzig when he was 15. He earned a BA in philosophy in 1662, at the age of 16, and a master’s in philosophy two years later. He published his first book at the age of 20. In 1676, Leibniz moved to Hanover to work in the court of the Duke of Brunswick. While in the employ of the House of Brunswick, Leibniz developed a system of infinitesimal calculus, which he published in 1684. Leibniz also published works of law, history, philosophy, philology, and theology during that time. In 1708 he was accused by Newton and others of having stolen the calculus from Newton during a trip to London in 1776. Though he was found guilty by the Royal Academy at the time, later mathematicians have exonerated Leibniz. Leibniz died in Hannover in 1716.

John Locke (1632–1704) was born in Wrington, Somerset, to a Puritan family. Many political philosophers consider Locke the father of classical liberalism. One of the first British empiricists, his main works focus on political philosophy and epistemology. He believed that the human mind was blank (tabula rasa) at the beginning of life. One’s experiences “wrote” on this blank paper, creating knowledge. Locke’s theory of knowing (epistemology) is considered by some philosophers to contain the seed of the Western concept of self. His work had a major influence on Voltaire and Rousseau, as well as on many of the founding fathers of the United States. His concept of natural law and the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property are reflected prominently in the Declaration of Independence.

Bishop George Berkeley (1685–1753) was born in Thomastown, County Killkenny, Ireland, and attended Trinity College in Dublin. He earned an MA in 1707 and a doctorate in divinity in 1721. He taught Greek, Hebrew, and divinity at Trinity College until 1724, when he was appointed Dean of Derry in the Church of Ireland. Berkeley’s brand of empiricism is known as immaterialism (sometimes subjective idealism). Berkeley taught that matter, as an abstract entity, had no existence on its own. Rather, said Berkeley, objects only exist if they are perceived. His motto, “to be is to be perceived,” sums up this philosophy. Berkeley’s empiricism supports the Lockean idea that knowledge relies on observation. It departs from Locke in denying the existence of matter as an abstract entity.

David Hume (1711–1776) was born in Berwickshire, near Edinburgh, in Scotland. Hume was an philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist. Hume’s empiricist philosophy centered on his assertion that the science of man is the basis for all other sciences. In other words, one must understand how the human mind works in order to properly understand other sciences. Hume believed that there was no constant, permanent self. Rather, the self is always the sum of one’s sensations and reflections. Knowledge, likewise, is derived from sensations and reflections on those sensations. Consequently, propositions about objects are semantically equivalent to propositions about one’s experiences. While we can have belief in something that is not directly observable, we cannot have knowledge about that thing.

Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) was born in Königsberg, Prussia, in a Pietist Lutheran family. He attended the University of Königsberg, becoming a lecturer there after graduation. In 1770, he accepted the chair of logic and metaphysics at Königsberg. He published and taught a variety of subjects, but focused on metaphysics and its relationship to physics and mathematics. He was heavily influenced by the writings of Leibniz, Newton, Hume, and Rousseau, drawing on both the empiricist and the rationalist schools. He wrote works of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and teleology. His revolutionary contribution to philosophy is his argument that human knowledge of the world comes from sense experience but is shaped by innate structures inherent in human reason.