I suggest mentioning Plato/Descartes if you pick philosophers to discuss
Instructions please read carefully
In College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be, Columbia University Professor of Humanities Andrew
Delbanco develops a thesis concerning the nature and purpose of higher education. He gives various
reasons in support of his thesis and suggestions about how an undergraduate education ought to be
At this point in the semester, you’ve been exposed–likely for the first time–to the discipline of
philosophy and read some of its important historical figures. You’ve likely developed some ideas of your
own about philosophical topics and/or the value of philosophy itself.
In this Writing Assignment, your task is twofold: first, you are to evaluate some aspect of Delbanco’s
thesis; second, you are to situate the place of philosophy (if there is one) within your evaluation of
This task is complicated, but manageable. The first part consists in precisely saying whether or not the
aspect of Delbanco’s thesis you address is defensible. He has definite ideas about what college is for,
and your paper needs to show evidence that you understand what he’s saying. You also need to indicate
your agreement or disagreement with him.
But, evaluating his thesis requires some specificity. So, your evaluation, in the second place, should work
out of some familiarity, not with philosophy in general, but with one particular philosopher whom we
have read. So, a precise thesis will say something like “Delbanco’s vision of education is supported by
Augustine” or “Plato’s theory of the person suggests that Delbanco misses the importance of the erotic element in education” or “Despite the fact that philosophy is essential to Delbanco’s account of what
college ought to be, it still leaves no room for people who love Descartes.”
Please be careful in how you formulate Delbanco’s thesis. It’s very common for students, falsely, to
believe Delbanco argues that the primary purpose of college is to aid students to develop their own
positions on important issues. This is not what he argues. His position is much more nuanced. He’s
certainly opposed to education as indoctrination, but he’s very clear on the means by which he thinks
students should come to their beliefs.
This assignment is to be done in the THIRD-PERSON. USE OF THE FIRST-PERSON PRONOUN (EXCEPT IN
QUOTATIONS FROM A TEXT) WILL BE GROUNDS FOR FAILURE.
The paper will be graded according to grammar and content. Papers with multiple grammatical, spelling,
or other syntactical errors may be assigned a grade of “F.” No opportunities for rewriting or revising the
paper will be given.
Every page should have a page number. Cover pages are not necessary, but if there is one it isn’t
In matter of style, including citations, The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, will be authoritative
(see also Turabian’s Manual for Writers, 8th edition). Bibliography style of citation is preferred. A cover
page is not necessary.
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