Knowledge & Realty — Exam Two — Fall 2020 (3214) Descartes, Conway, Hume, Kant
Professor Daily, Santa Monica College
Due: Tuesday, November 10th at 11:59 pm
Description: This is a reflection paper on Rene Descartes’s Method Book 1 & 2 and Meditations 1 & 2, and Anne Conway’s Vitalistic Monism, selections from The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy, and Enlightenment Philosophers: David Hume and Immanuel Kant
Goal: Come to know yourself through the writings of Descartes, Conway, Hume, Kant.. Following are some questions to stir your thinking and self reflection: What resonated with you? Why? What irked you? Why? What validated what you already believed, held dear, thought, felt, etc? Why? What made you smile? Why? What brought tears? Why? These are merely some of the questions you might ask yourself as you develop your paper on knowing yourself through the lenses of Descartes, Conway, Hume, and Kant. IN other words, how have you come “To know thyself is to love thyself, and to love thyself is to love thy neighbor” during this second section of the course.
Line of Reasoning: In your paper, you will take a position on each of the four different philosophies/ philosophers and how they have contributed to you coming to know yourself. It could be because you agree, disagree, have already been thinking this way and the philosopher put it to words for you, or some other reason. Next, provide a rational defense of your position. Keep in mind that it is not merely a matter of taste (Hume) but rather it must be a position you can defend with textual evidence and life experience, including quotes from the text.
How to Prepare: Review the readings and use the questions below to excite your thinking and your sense of wonder. Also, please review the study questions, slides, lecture notes, and resources provided on the slides and lectures notes to be sure you understand the material (on Canvas under “Modules”)
Quotes: Include at least six (6) quotes from the readings. You may use additional quotes from class discussions and Zoom in addition to the text from the readings.
Questions to inspire your paper development…
I. Descartes (Dualism) & Conway (Monism): Are you using good sense (reason) or common sense to think and express yourself. Are you describing your feelings or your thoughts? What is certain according to Descartes? Do you agree or disagree? Why? Are you dreaming or awake right now? How might the scientific method help you to make better decisions in life? Are you a thinking thing? What occult terms do you use? Why might it be useful to be candid with yourself about what is less understood than is typically admitted? How does Descartes’s discussion of wax elucidate that to have knowledge is to have knowledge of the contents of one’s own mind? What is dualism? How are the mind and body connected? Which part of Descartes’s writings most inspired or perplexed you?
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Why? Are you more inclined to follow monism? Do you believe in the vitalistic spirit? Does Kabbalistic mysticism help one to deal with life’s unknowns? Does the phrase Pathei Mathos speak to you? Why?
II. Enlightenment Philosophers: Hume and Kant: How might a return to moral sentiments, moral feelings return you to think from a place of love, a subject self that does not divide the world as the powers in leadership roles have manipulated us into believing we ought – think Conservative-Liberal, Catholic-Protestant (Hume). Do our moral feelings, moral sentiments connect us as individual subjects? Will you take Kant’s challenge, ‘Dare to be wise’, to think without the direction of another? (Kant). These are merely examples. You are welcome to take the paper in the direction that suits you (as long as you can defend your claims).
Tip: Be sure you are not conflating contemporary understandings of the ideas discussed by the philosophers. For example, moral feelings are moral sentiments according to Hume. Psychological egoists would disagree. It is fine for you to discuss both but make it clear in your paper that you understand the difference. Also, if you do bring in work that is not assigned, be sure to cite it.
Note: You DO NOT need to have answers to all the questions listed above. They are merely listed as inspiration. You might take your paper in a direction not considered in the questions above.
Extra Credit: Explain thoroughly one quote from one of the following: Descartes, Conway, Hume, or Kant. Describe why it is valuable in a practical and/or pragmatic way. (2 points)
Note: Please provide complete and thorough answers to the extra credit question, including a line of reasoning to support your position and evidence as in your experiences and the readings. 4 to 6 sentences.
• 1000 to 1,500 words (4.0 – 6.0 pages)
• Times New Roman or Arial 12 point font
• 1” Margins
• You do NOT need to use any particular style
(e.g., APA or MLA)
• You may use first person “I”. You may also
use second person “you”. Or, you may use third person“one”. Pick one and be consistent
Contact Information: Canvas Messages is preferred.
• Upload your on Canvas using ONLY one of the two following formats:
• *** Word, .doc or PDF format ***
• Total Paper Points: 20 points possible • Extra credit (2 points possible): Explain
thoroughly one quote from either Aurelius or Descartes. Describe why it is valuable in a practical and/or pragmatic way.
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Writing a Philosophy Paper Guidelines
• Grammar matters. Please use complete sentences.
• Reasoning matters. Please be sure that sentences relate to each other. For example, sentence two
follows from sentence one, and so on.
• Use new paragraphs to indicate a new idea.
• Consider using sub-headings to organize your thoughts and convey them in an organized fashion. • Be sure to introduce a quote and follow it with a sentence explaining why it is important to the
point you are defending.
• The goal is, in short, to understand the material, convey an understanding of the material, take a
position on the material, and defend the position with reasoning, and quotes from the text as
• While word count and page number matters, conveying your point and defending your position
matters as well.
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