essay philosophy

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This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Organization/PresentationOrganization should be clear from beginning to end; presentation of material should be logical and build up to a conclusion.

Term Paper Topics Pick one of the following topics and write your term paper on it. You may choose a topic on Socrates & Plato or Descartes. Papers should be a minimum of three typewritten pages in MLA format using Times New Roman 12 pt font, double-spaced. When you quote from your book, please make sure to use correct MLA citation format (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Remember to create a Works Cited page and list all sources you quote in the paper. Socrates & Plato Topic A: Suppose Meletus overheard the discussion in the Crito and went to Plato's Socrates saying "In your discussion with Crito you indicated you were able to propose and defend substantive theses-you claimed to know whether escape would be just, that it is never right to return a wrong for a wrong, and you claimed to know what sort of life is worth living. In making such claims you show you do not really believe that human wisdom amounts to little. That is, you lied during the trial when you professed ignorance. It seems to me your sentence is just!" How would you respond to this charge? Is Plato's Socrates inconsistent? Can Plato's Socrates both claim to be ignorant and to know? An alternative way of raising the same question would be to address the notion of "Socratic Ignorance"--to write a paper which answers the question "Is it really true that Plato, Socrates, and other people are on the "same level" in terms of their knowledge?" Here you would refer to (at least) the Apology and the Crito and would explain what Plato's Socrates does, and does not, know. You would also clarify and explain any (apparent) contradictions between his claims in these works. Topic B: In the Apology, Plato's Socrates says: to do this [pursue his dialectical activities] has, as I say, been enjoined upon me by the god, by means of oracles and dreams, and in every other way that a divine manifestation has ever ordered a man to do anything. This is true, gentleman, and can easily be established. [33c] In the Crito, on the other hand, he says: we must therefore examine whether we should act in this way or not [that is escape], as not only now but at all times I am the kind of man who listens only to the argument that on reflection seems best to me. [46b] There seems to be a fundamental inconsistency here however. Either he follows the dictates of the god(s), or he follows the dictates of reason. Which view truly represents Plato's "true view," and how is the other contention to be explained? Topic C: Suppose you encountered someone who maintained: much of what Socrates went through at the end of his life could have been easily avoided if he had only taken his own advice and lived a private life (Apology, 32a). He would not have offended the rich and powerful, he would not have been put on trial, and he would not have had to reason with Crito about the appropriateness of escaping. How would you reply? Would "being private" in this sense mean giving up anything that he holds to be important? If so, clarify what would have to be forsaken, and why you think he would not be willing to do so. Descartes Topic D: Consider the Problem of Error: if God exists, and he is not a deceiver, then why is it so often the case that he allows humans to form false beliefs? What is Descartes’ reply to the Problem of Error? Is his reply successful? You may find it worthwhile to critique Descartes’ model of how error arises in Meditation IV. Are there cases of error which can’t be covered on the model? Does the model succeed in solving the Problem of Error? Topic E: Descartes famously argues “I think, therefore I am” (though he doesn’t say this in Meditation II). What is Descartes’ basis for the conclusion that he exists? Is his argument compelling? What does he take himself to be? Consider one of your own objections to Descartes’ proof that he exists. How would Descartes respond, and would that response be adequate? Topic F: In arguing that God exists in Meditation III, Descartes relies on the premise, which he takes to be clear and distinct, that he has an idea of God: “eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipotent, and Creator of all thing which are outside of Himself.” First, state how this premise is used in the proof of God’s existence. What is its significance? Second, state what you think are the two strongest objections to Descartes’ use of this premise in the proof. Descartes considers three such objections later in Meditation III. How does Descartes respond to the objections you consider? Are his responses adequate? If so, why? If not, why not? [Note: you may take for granted that the reader knows about Descartes’ theory of ideas and about the distinction between formal and objective reality.

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