Science Education and Religion in America in the 21st Century: Holding the Center

by Jon D. Miller, John A. Hannah Professor of Integrative Studies at Michigan State University & Robert T. Pennock, Professor of Philosophy of Science at Michigan State University in Lyman Briggs College, the Departments of Philosophy, Computer Science and Engineering, and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior program

For most of the 19th and 20th centuries, there has been an uneasy truce between science and religion in the United States. During the 60 years since the end of the Second World War, the United States has been viewed as the most scientific nation on the planet. American universities and laboratories have developed an extraordinary array of technologies, and are responsible for a substantial portion of our modern scientific understanding of nature. More Americans have been early adopters of new technologies—from automobiles and airplanes to antibiotics and new medical technologies—than adults in any other country. Nine out of ten Americans think that science and technology have made their lives “healthier, easier, and more comfortable.” And yet, on particular issues such as evolution and stem cell research, there has been active political resistance to scientific advancement from at least some religious quarters. Such religious opposition has led to a low-level but ongoing struggle over the content of science education.

Science Education and Religion in America in the 21st Century: Holding the Center

Secularism and Science in the 21st Century

by Ariela Keysar, Associate Research Professor of Public Policy and Law and the Associate Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture (ISSSC) at Trinity College, Hartford & Barry A. Kosmin, Founding Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture and Research Professor, Public Policy and Law Program at Trinity College, Hartford

As this book went to press in early 2008, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board was weighing a request by a Bible-based creationist institute to offer online master’s degrees in science education. The Institute for Creation Research aims to challenge the standard teachings of evolution and (according to its website) “equip current and future Christian leaders with practical tools to effectively influence their world with the truths of Scripture.” Its goal is to staff classrooms with science teachers sympathetic to religious fundamentalism, educators who believe in the Biblical account of the world’s creation. This is an open challenge to the normative model of Western science, which is based on the secular principles of free inquiry and empiricism.

Introduction: Secularism and Science in the 21st Century

Anxiety in the Age of Reason

by Andre Wakefield, Assistant Professor of History, Pitzer College

Course Description

Many Enlightenment authors expressed confidence in the relentless progress of knowledge, but they also exuded skepticism and unease about reason. New questions about nature, and new approaches to studying it, unleashed fears about humanity’s place in the world. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz worried that the specter of infinite time might eliminate the need for God; David Hume doubted the necessity of cause and effect; Immanuel Kant limited reason to make way for faith. Each of these writers used reason to question the religious and metaphysical foundations of knowledge. But reason also created its own fears about faith and reason, about certainty and belief. This course is about those fears, and what lay behind them.

Secularism caused anxiety, even in the age of reason. That is the heart of the matter, and what we will be exploring in this course. Even as Spinoza and Kant and Leibniz sought to unify scripture with reason, their writings both reflected and unleashed fears about how new modes of knowing might undermine old ways of believing. It is the dynamic that we will examine.

Required Readings

  1. Gould, Stephen J. Time’s Arrow and Time’s Cycle. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987.
  2. Hume, David. A Treatise of Human Nature. London: Penguin Books, 1969.
  3. Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. Norman Kemp Smith. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1969.
  4. Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm. Protogaea. Edited and translated, with an introduction, by Andre Wakefield and Claudine Cohen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.
  5. Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm. Philosophical Essays. Edited and translated by Roger Ariew and Daniel Garber. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1989.
  6. Rossi, Paolo. The Dark Abyss of Time. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1984.
  7. Schmidt, James, ed. What is Enlightenment? Eighteenth-Century Answers and Twentieth-Century Questions. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.
  8. Spinoza, Baruch (Benedict de). Theological-Political Treatise. Edited by Jonathan Israel; translated by Michael Silverstone and Jonathan Israel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Reading Schedule

Part I: Time, Fossils, Metaphysics

  • Class 1: Gould, Time’s Arrow, pp. 1-61.
  • Class 2: Gould, Time’s Arrow, pp. 61-208.
  • Class 3: Rossi, Dark Abyss, 3-120.
  • Class 4: Leibniz, Protogaea [all]
  • Class 5: Leibniz, “Discourse on Metaphysics,” 35-69.
  • Class 6: Leibniz-Newton Debate. In Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence, 11-97.

Part II: Reason, Faith, Skepticism: The Secular Challenge

  • Class 7: Leibniz, “Comments on Spinoza’s Philosophy,” in Ariew and Garber, eds. pp. 272-84; Spinoza, Theologico-Political Treatise (Elwes trans.), 1-11, chaps. VI-VII, XIV-XVI, XX.
  • Class 8: Hume, Treatise, 41-174.
  • Class 9: Hume, Treatise, 174-321.
  • Class 10: Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 7-62, 65-91.
  • Class 11: Kant, Conflict of the Faculties, 23-61, and “What is Enlightenment?”; (in Schmidt, ed.); Mendelssohn, “What is Enlightenment?”
  • Class 12: Hamann, “Letter to Christian Jacob Kraus,” and Metacritique on the Purism of Reason,” in Schmidt, ed., 145-67.
  • Class 13: Fichte, “Freedom of Thought,” pp. 119-142 (in Schmidt, ed.)

Science and Religion

by Kent Dunlap, Associate Professor of Biology, Trinity College

Course Description

The contemporary arguments on intelligent design and stem cell research demonstrate that the age old debate between science and religion is still very much still alive. This course will examine fundamental philosophical, ethical and historical questions at the intersection of religion and science. Are these two dominant “ways of knowing” destined to always conflict? Do religion and science provide separate and compatible world views? How has religion been a force in motivating and constraining science and technology? How has science prompted changing perspectives in theology and ethics? Using both historical and contemporary sources, we will explore ways in which religion and science collide, coexist and influence each other. We will focus on Christianity, Judism and the biological sciences, but also include some discussion of non-Western religions and physical sciences.

Required Texts

  1. Barbour, Ian, Religion and Science; Historical and Contemporary Issues, HarperCollins, 1997. ISBN 0-06-060938-9
  2. Appleman Philip. ed., Darwin (A Norton Critical edition), WW Norton and Company 2001. ISBN 0-393-95849
  3. Dawkins, Richard, The Selfish Gene, Oxford University Press, 1976. ISBN 0199291152
  4. James, William, Varieties of Religious Experience, Random House, 1999. ISBN 0-67964011-8
  5. Readings from Course book
  • One of the following:
  1. Miller, K., Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution, HarperCollins Publishers, 2001 ISBN: 0060930497
  2. Collins, F. Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, Free Press, 2006 ISBN: 0743286391

Readings  Course Packet

  1. Vedantam, S. “Eden and Evolution”, Washington Post, February 5, 2006.
  2. Gould, S.J., Nonoverlapping Magisteria, Natural History 106, 1999.
  3. Dawkins, R. You Can’t Have it Both Ways: Irreconcilable Differences? Skeptical Inquirer 23, 1999.
  4. Ruse, M. Commentary on NOMA. Published online: 1999.
  5. Regal, P.J. “The illusion organ” In: The Anatomy of Judgment, Univ Minnesota Press. 1990.
  6. Gladwell, M. The picture problem, The New Yorker. December 13, 2004.
  7. Specter, M. Rethinking the brain, The New Yorker, July 23, 2001.
  8. Russel B., Why I am not a Christian. Haldeman-Julius Publications, 1929.
  9. Larson, E.J., and Witham, L., Scientists and religion in America, Scientific American, September, 1999.
  10. Multiple authors. The future of stem cells. Scientific American, 2005.
  11. Blackmore, S., The power of memes, Scientific American, October 2000.
  12. Orr, H.A. Devolution. The New Yorker, May 30, 2005.
  13. Sapolsky, R., “Circling the blanket for God” In: The Trouble with Testosterone and Other Essays on the Biology of the Human Predicament. Simon and Schuster, 1997.
  14. Dunlap, K.D. Conflict of interest and the funding of biomedical research at universities, 2001 (unpublished).

Course Schedule

Week 1

Intro & / Quiet American

Relationships between Science & Religion Independence: Gould and the Two Magisteria

  1. Vedantam
  2. Gould

Week 2

Conflict and dialogue: responses to Gould

  1. Dawkins,
  2. Ruse

Barbour’s classification

  1. Barbour, Ch 4

Week 5

Philosophy of Science and Religion What is Science?: Theory

What is Science? Limits

  1. Regal,
  2. Gladwell

What is Science? Culture

  1. Spector

Week 6

World Religion: Chrisianity

World Religions: Islam

World Religions: Buddhism

Week 7

Comparison of Science and Religion

  1. Barbour Ch 5 & 6

Contemporary issue: Stem cell research

  • Sci American

Stem Cell Debate

Week 8

History of Science and Religion History 1: Medieval Origins of Science

  1. Barbour Ch 1

History 2: Enlightenment

  1. Barbour Ch 2

History 3: 19th Century

  1. Barbour Ch 3

History 4: Pre-Darwin

  1. Darwin

Week 9

Evolution and Human Nature Darwin and Darwinism

  1. Darwin

Darwin and Darwinism

  1. Darwin

Week 10 Genes and Human Nature

  1. Dawkins
  2. Blackmore

Week 11

Contemporary Issue: Intelligent Design

  1. Paley
  2. Orr

Intelligent Design Debate

Week 12

Science of Religiousity Phenomenon of Religious Experience

  1. James

Week 13

Neurobiology and Religion

  1. Sapolsky

Week 14

Evolutionary Origins of Religion

Relationship of Science and Religion Revisited Compatibility of Science & Religion

Week 15

Contemporary Issue: Corporate Funding of Academic Research

  1. Dunlap

Science, Religion, and Nature in the Age of Galileo

by Sean Cocco, Assistant Professor of History, Trinity College

Brief Course Description
After four centuries, the astronomer Galileo Galilei’s trial before the Roman Inquisition endures as a symbol of the clash between science and religion.  Undoubtedly, the rise of early modern science in seventeenth-century Europe provoked its share of battles, but the whole story defies simple explanation.  This course will lead you to consider the origin and extent of the apparently irreconcilable differences between world views.  How wide was the rift between science and religion before the Enlightenment?  You will be encouraged to explore this complex relationship in historical context, by weighing the coexistence of scientific curiosity and intense faith, and also by considering the religious response to the expanding horizons of knowledge.  The course will highlight investigations of the heavens and the earth, and will include a detailed look at Galileo’s trial. A number of broader themes will also be the focus.  Among these are the understanding of God and nature, authority (classical and scriptural) versus observation, the wide range of knowledge-making practices, the persistence of magic, and the influence of power and patronage. The class seeks to present a rich and exciting picture, looking forward as well to the influence of rational thinking and scientific inquiry on the making of modernity.

This course will be especially useful to students of history, science, and religion, and also those who wish to gain greater historical perspective on religious and secular thinking today. It is an introductory course that does not assume specific prior knowledge and welcomes undergraduates from different disciplines.

Books and Reading
  1. Sour Maria Celeste, Letters To Father
  2. Maurice Finnocchiaro, The Galileo Affair:  A Documentary History
  3. Galileo Galilei, Starry Messenger
  4. Malcom Oster, Science in Europe, 1500-1800: A Primary Sources Reader
  5. Stephen Shapin, The Scientific Revolution
  6. Robert Torrance, Encompassing Nature: Nature and Culture from Ancient Times to the Modern World
Course Objectives
  • Develop a critical understanding of the relationship between science and religion
  • Develop the ability to think as a historian
  • Develop the skills of oral communication, writing, and critical thought
  • Foster an environment where ideas might be shared and discussed openly
Online Resources
The Galileo Project

Interdisciplinary Documentation on Religion and Science

Institute and Museum of the History of Science (Florence, Italy)

Early English Books Online

Course Schedule and Outline
Part I Science and Religion in the Classical,  Medieval, and Renaissance Contexts
Week 1 Introduction & How do science and religion differ?
  1. Ernst Mayr, This is Biology, (24-64)
  2. Ian Barbour, When Science Meets Religion, (1-38)
  3. Bowler and Morus, Making Modern Science (1-78, 103-163, 319-365, 487-513)
Week 2
Philosophers and Physicians in Antiquity
  1. Torrance, Encompassing Nature
    1. Selections from the Hippocratic Corpus
    2. Plato: Phaedrus, Gorgias, Timaeus
    3. Aristotle: Physics, Metaphysics, On Generation, On the Parts of Animals
Early Christianity
  1. Augustine, Confessions (on astronomers)
  2. Torrance, Encompassing Nature
    1. St. Ambrose, The Six Days of Creation
Week 3
Reason and Faith in the Middle Ages
  1. Torrance, Encompassing Nature
    1. Maimonides, The Guide for the Perplexed
    2. St. Thomas Aquinas, On the Power of God
  2. Daston and Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature
Science and Nature in the Renaissance
  1. Torrance, Encompassing Nature
    1. Petrarch, The Ascent of Mount Ventoux
    2. Nicolas Cusanus, Of Learned Ignorance
    3. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Heptaplus
    4. Selections from Paracelsus
    5. Giordano Bruno, Concerning the Cause, Principle, and One
Week 4
Part II The Scientific Revolution
The Copernican Revolution
  1. Oster, Science in Europe
    1. Copernicus, On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres (with preface by Andreas Osiander)
Week 5
Medicine, Science, Technology and Exploration
  1. Oster, Science in Europe
    1. Andreas Vesalius, On the Fabric of the Human Body
    2. Garcia d’Orta, Colloquies on the simples and Drugs of India
  2. Anthony Grafton and Nancy Siraisi, New Worlds, Ancient Texts
Was there a Scientific Revolution?
  1. Shapin, The Scientific Revolution (all)
Part III The “Galileo Affair”
Week 6
Galileo’s Starry Messenger
  1. Galileo, Starry Messenger (all)
Week 7 The Two Books
  1. Finocchiaro, Galileo Affair,
    1. Letter to the Duchess Christina
1615-16 Proceedings
  1. Finocchiaro, Galileo Affair
    1. Complaints, letters, and depositions between 1615-1616
    2. Galileo’s letters to the Tuscan Secretary of State
    3. Cardinal Bellarmine’s Certificate
Week 8
The Condemnation of 1633
  1. Oster, Science in Europe
    1. Galileo: Assayer, Dialogue
  2. Finocchiaro, Galileo Affair
    1. Later Inquisition Proceedings (1633)
Week 9 What did women know about science?
  1. Sour Maria Celeste, Letters to Father
Part IV Secular trends
Week 10 Science’s Manifesto: Bacon’s New Organon
  1. Oster, Science in Europe
    1. Bacon: Preface and Aphorisms (New Organon)
Science and Utopia:
  1. Bacon, New Atlantis
  2. Tommaso Campanella, City of Sun
Week 11 Practitioners and Sites of Knowledge
  1. Oster, Science in Europe
    1. Thomas Sprat, History of the Royal Society
  2. Daston and Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, 215-253.
  3. Findlen, “Inventing Nature:  Commerce, Art, and Science in Early Modern Cabinets of Curiosities,” in Findlen and Smith, eds., Merchants and Marvels
Protestantism and Science in Seventeenth-Century England
  1. Oster, Science in Europe
    1. Robert Hooke, Micrographia
    2. Robert Boyle, Of the Excellency and Grounds of the Corpuscular Philosophy
    3. Isaac Newton, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy
Week 12 Science and Religion, Body and Soul
  1. From Roy Porter, Flesh in the Age of Reason,
  2. Oster, Science in Europe
    1. John Ray, The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of Creation
  3. Torrance, Encompassing Nature
    1. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
    2. Ralph Cudworth, The Digression Concerning the Plastick Life of Nature
    3. John Locke, Essay on Human Understanding
Science and Religion in Seventeenth-century France: Descartes and Pascal
  1. Torrance, Encompassing Nature
    1. Descartes, Meditations on the First Philosophy
    2. Blaise Pascal, Pensées
Week 13 Sciences of the Earth:  the Origins of Geology
  1. Oster, Science in Europe
    1. Georgius Agricola, De Re Metallica
  2. Robert Hooke, “Lectures and Discourses of Earthquakes,” in Posthumous Works
  3. Torrance, Encompassing Nature
    1. Robert Fludd, History of the Macrocosm and Microcosm
Geology Continued: Sacred and Secular History
  1. Torrance, Encompassing Nature
    1. Thomas Burnet, The Sacred Theory of the Earth
    2. James Hutton, Theory of the Earth 3) Georges Louis Leclerc de Buffon: Natural History, The Epochs of Nature
  2. Dan Smail, “In the Grip of Sacred History” American Historical Review
Week 14 Class Interpreting a Disaster
  1. Giulio Braccini, The Eruption of Vesuvius (translation by Sean Cocco)
  2. Pietro Castelli, Of the Eruption that Occurred on Vesuvius
  3. Giovanni Battista Manso (letters; translated by Sean Cocco)
  4. [Visual source:  Domenico Gargiulo]
Are there final causes in nature?
  1. Torrance, Encompassing Nature
    1. Baruch Spinoza, Ethics
    2. Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, On Nature Itself
  2. Voltaire, Miscellaneous Letters and Lisbon Earthquake

Enlightenment & Romanticism in Italy

by John Alcorn, Assistant Professor of Italian Studies & Principal Lecturer in Modern Languages and Literature
Pedagogical Rationale
The course is designed as an introduction to cultural expressions of modern ideas of nature, human nature, and history in Italy.  Thus the keywords modernity, nature, human nature, and history will guide our discussions of particular works. (During our ISSSC seminar, I learned that modernity is a contested concept; therefore I approach this keyword in an open-minded, open-ended spirit and hope to clarify my thoughts along the way.) To sharpen the focus of our keywords, we will examine a variety of paired values: science and art, aristocratic and bourgeois values, the passions and the interests, religion and secularism, crime and punishment, and revolution and reaction.
We will make one detour beyond Italy in order to incorporate the French moralistes, whose insights into psychology complement Machiavelli’s innovations in strategy. Jointly, Machiavelli and the moralistes set the stage for the Enlightenment idea of methodological individualism, which will be a crux of this course.  Moreover, inclusion of the moralistes (who become mainstays of European culture) will enable students to grasp more fully the emergence of secularism in Italian culture.  As an ISSSC seminar participant aptly noted, the moralistes (perhaps unwittingly) secularize sin.
Although the seminar will concentrate on the keywords and paired values noted above, in what follows in this statement of pedagogical rationale I situate the course in relation to some themes that marked our ISSSC seminar about “Secularism and the Enlightenment.”  Throughout the seminar, I was struck by my colleagues’ emphasis upon
(a) the most elusive aspects of historical inquiry, namely, colligation and causal explanation and (b) the treatment of cultural expressions (paintings, poems, and so on) as dependent variables. I lack confidence in my abilities in these two areas.  Therefore below I try and sketch why in my course I will be cautious in colligation and in causal analysis, and why I will mainly treat cultural expressions as independent variables – analyzing the cognitive and aesthetic value of particular works and perhaps (tentatively) how they shaped history (reception).
I am grateful to my colleagues for sharing their approaches and tolerating my preoccupations.  The seminar has deepened my understanding of secularism, which will figure threrefore more fully than I had planned in my new course.
I. Problems of colligation of historical events into meaningful wholes
We will ask whether the Enlightenment and Romanticism can be understood as meaningful wholes; perhaps as periods or patterns.  We will consider arguments against colligation, made by William Blake and Jean-François Lyotard. Blake insists that “Art and science cannot exist but in minutely organized Particulars.”  Lyotard contends that colligation (“grand narrative”) misleads and oppresses; he favors micro-histories that remind us of the myriad individuality of history.  The seminar will strike a balance between concentration on the particularity of individual works and (cautious, tentative) identification of patterns and relations among works.
By reading (or beholding) a range of works from Leonardo to Leopardi, we will learn how ideas and periods criss-cross in received historical categories–as we find, for example, expressions of Enlightenment ideas of nature, human nature, and history in the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, and the Romantic period.
II. Problems of causation
We will compare and contrast the natural sciences (by reading Galileo) and the humanities (in the broad sense, including the arts and social sciences).  The natural sciences discover laws of nature by controlled experiment, isolation of variables, identification of primary qualities, and the like.  Prediction is essential to the natural sciences.
The humanities rely on the commonsense idea that we understand social phenomena by identifying (i) what individuals do (behaviors), (ii) why they do what they do (motivations and psychological mechanisms), and (iii) how their behaviors have unintended consequences (social mechanisms).  Prediction is anomalous in the humanities; as Adam Ferguson puts it, history is “the result of human action, not of human design.”  We will read groundbreaking works in methodological individualism by Machiavelli (strategy), de la Rochefoucauld (psychology), and Beccaria (deviance).
III. Arts and sciences: Problems of (i) priority among disciplines and (ii) commensurability across disciplines
Methodological individualism is incompatible with general causal theories of history. We will illustrate how innovation among disciplines does not conform to any general causal pattern or order of priority.  Leonardo illustrates how the visual arts and the natural sciences can be inseparably innovative.  Pietro Longhi illustrates how painting can shape theater (Goldoni). Erwin Panofsky (secondary source) explains how technological innovation can divorce science from art.  Leopardi illustrates how psychology and poetry can be inseparably innovative.  Manzoni illustrates how historical inquiry and the novel can be inseparably innovative.  And so on.
The course will explore twin problems of commensurability: (a) the fact that Enlightenment ideas or attitudes were, so to speak, “in the air,” shaping creativity and innovation across disciplines (and also across national cultures), and (b) the fact that works in any particular discipline cannot be (fully?) translated into other disciplines.
IV. Problems of affinity between Enlightenment and Secularism
The seminar will examine relations between Enlightenment attitudes and secularism.  The latter may be (a) institutional (separation of church and state) or (b) individual (making sense of life and the world without reference to God).
Italy, unlike England, the United State, and France, did not experience major constitution-making episodes involving institutional secularism until the Napoleonic wars and the Risorgimento.  Nonetheless we may examine institutional secularism through Galileo’s defence of science’s autonomy and Beccaria’s innovative approach to crime and punishment.
We will explore artistic expressions on the individual, psychological dimension of secularism.  A fascinating puzzle is why some innovators in methodological individualism–which makes sense of behavior and history without reference to God– are personally religious and others not. These matters will be studied in some depth by sustained comparison and contrast of Manzoni (religious psychology) and Leopardi (secular psychology).
Course description:
An introduction to cultural expressions of modern ideas of nature, human nature, and history in Italy. The course covers the period from the Scientific Revolution to Italy’s national revolution and concentrates on original works (primary sources) from the period. Topics include science and art, aristocratic and bourgeois values, the passions and the interests, religion and secularism, crime and punishment, and revolution and reaction.
We will study in depth two literary masterpieces: Alessandro Manzoni’s historical novel, The Betrothed, and Giacomo Leopardi’s collection of poems, Canti.
Authors and artists in other genres include Cesare Beccaria (politics), Carlo Goldoni (theater), Pietro Longhi (visual arts), and Giambattista Vico (philosophy).
We will begin with a few key short works – by Leonardo Da Vinci, Niccolò Machiavelli, Galileo, and the French moralistes François de la Rochefoucauld and Blaise Pascal – that provide foundations from the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution.
Seminar format.  Enrollment is limited to 25 students.  Students majoring in Italian will meet separately for a supplementary session in Italian and will do coursework in Italian.
Course requirements:
  1. Four papers (one for each Part of the syllabus).
  2. Class participation, consisting in regular attendance, discussion, and two oral reports (one about a primary source, the other about a secondary source).  Oral reports should encapsulate the assignment and invite discussion.
Grade policy:
  1. The cumulative score is on a scale of 100 points and may be graded on a curve.
  2. Papers amount to 60% of the course grade.  Each paper is worth 15% (15 points available). Each paper should be five pages.  Papers are graded on five criteria: focus, integration of assigned materials, argument or analysis, evidence, and prose. Each criterion is graded on a 3-point scale. 3 points = excellent.  2 points = satisfactory. 1 point = poor.
  3. Class participation amounts to 40% of the course grade.  (The two oral reports are worth 15% each and discussion is worth 10%.)
  4. Penalties apply to students who miss more than three classes.

Purchase list. (All books are paperback):

  1. Cesare Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishments (Cambridge U. Press, 1995)
  2. Leonardo’s Notebooks (H. Anna Suh, ed., Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2005)
  3. Carlo Goldoni, The Coffee House (bilingual edition, Marsilio Classics, 1999)
  4. Giacomo Leopardi, Poems (translated by Arturo Vivante, Delphinium Press, 1988)
  5. Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince (Cambridge U. Press, 1988)
  6. Alessandro Manzoni, The Betrothed: I Promessi Sposi (Penguin Classics, 1984)
  7. François de la Rochefoucauld, Collected Maxims and Other Reflections (bilingual edition, Oxford World’s Classics, 2007)
An asterisk denotes materials available online at course BlackBoard site
Part One: Foundations
Introduction to the course
Leonardo 1: Nature (Notebooks)
Leonardo 2: Human nature (Notebooks)
Machiavelli 1: Human nature The Prince, Skinner (1988)*
Machiavelli 2: History The Prince, Anderson (1974)*
Galileo: Nature  Letter to G. Duchess Christina*
Panofsky (1962)*
Rochefoucauld: Motivations Maxims
Rochefoucauld: Mechanisms Maxims, Elster (1999) 76-107*
Pascal: Rationality   Pascal’s Wager*, Elster (2003)*
Part Two: Beccaria, Goldoni, Longhi
Beccaria 1: Crime
Beccaria 2: Punishment
Beccaria 3: Deterrence
On Crimes … chs. 1-16 On Crimes… chs. 17-32
Duff (1999)* On Crimes … chs. 33-47
Vico: Human nature  Vico: History
New Science selections TBA
Bellamy (1995)* New Science selections TBA
McCullagh (2008)*
Goldoni 1: Comedy
Goldoni 2: Social norms
Longhi The Coffee House The Coffee House
Sohm (1982)*
Images at ArtStor
Tiepolo, Canaletto,
Canova Images at ArtStor
Part Three: Manzoni, The Betrothed Chapters 1-6
McCullagh (1993)
Part four: Leopardi, Canti
InfinityFirst LoveTo Silvia
Timpanaro (1979)*
Alcorn (2008b)*
SaturdayNight SongMemories
Alcorn (2008a)*
Alcorn (1996)*
Wild Broom Review
Alcorn & Del Puppo (1994)*
Bibliography of secondary sources
  • Alcorn (1996).  John Alcorn, “Giacomo Leopardi’s Art and Science of Emotion in Memory and Anticipation,” MLN 111:1 (January 1996) 89-122.
  • Alcorn (2008a).  John Alcorn, “The Search for Meaning without God in Giacomo Leopardi’s Canto Notturno,” Secularism and the Enlightenment
  • Alcorn (2008b). John Alcorn, “Giacomo Leopardi–Poet of Unspoken, Unrequited Love,” MS (2008).
  • Alcorn & Del Puppo (1994).  John Alcorn & Dario Del Puppo, “Giacomo Leopardi’s La ginestra as Social Art,” MLR 89:4 (October 1994) 865-88.
  • Anderson (1974). Perry Anderson, Lineages of the Absolutist State (New Left Books, 1974) 143-72.
  • Bellamy (1995).  Richard Bellamy, “Introduction,” in Beccaria: On Crimes and Punishments, edited by Richard Bellamy (Cambridge U. Press, 1995) ix-xxx.
  • Duff (1999).  R. A. Duff, “Punishment, Communication, and Community,” in Punishment and Political Theory, edited by M. Matravers (Hart Publishing, 1999) 48-68.
  • Elster (1999). Jon Elster, Alchemies of the
    Mind (Cambridge U. Press, 1999) 76-107.
  • Elster (2003). Jon Elster, “Pascal and Decision Theory,” in Cambridge Companion to Pascal, edited by Nicholas Hammond (Cambridge U. Press, 2003) 53-74.
  • McCullagh (1993).  C. Behan McCullagh, “Truth and Metaphor in History,” Clio 23:1 (1993) 23-49.
  • McCullagh (2008).  C. Behan McCullagh, “The Lessons of History: Generalizations, Traditions, and Inspirations,” MS (2008).
  • Skinner (1988).  Quentin Skinner & Richard Price, “Introduction,” in Machiavelli: The Prince, edited by Quentin Skinner and Richard Price (Cambridge U. Press, 1988) ix-xxiv.
  • Sohm (1982).  Philip L. Sohm, “Pietro Longhi and Carlo Goldoni: Relations between Painting and Theater,” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 45:3 (1982) 256-73.
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