Descartes

DESCARTES ESSAY EXAM

DIRECTIONS: CHOOSE ONE OF THESE CRITICAL ESSAY QUESTIONS–A, B, OR C–OR D, WHICH IS AN EXPLANATORY ESSAY QUESTION. FROM YOUR CHOICE WRITE ONE ESSAY OF THREE DOUBLE-SPACED PAGES. ANSWER THE QUESTION DIRECTLY. DO NOT GIVE BIOGRAPHICAL OR HISTORICAL DATA. THE ESSAY MUST BE WELL ORGANIZED AND MUST SHOW CLEARLY A TRAIN OF UNBROKEN THOUGHT.

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SEE THE PREVIOUS CRITERIA MODULE FOR DETAILS.

SUBMIT THE COMPLETED ESSAY AS A MS WORD OR GDOC FILE BY THE DUE DATE/TIME.

LATE ESSAYS SUBMITTED WITHIN 24 HOURS OF THE DUE DATE/TIME WILL BE PENALIZED TO HALF CREDIT. AFTER 24 HOURS FROM THE DUE DATE/TIME, NO PAPER WILL BE ACCEPTED.

CRITICAL ESSAY QUESTIONS

A. Descartes’ project is to start from what is clear and distinct and to incrementally build up his
knowledge by argument from that foundation. What are the prospects for the Cartesian project?
Is there more that is clear and distinct than what Descartes identifies? Is there less? Is it possible,
using Descartes’ methods, to establish that there is an external world without proving that God
exists? Make sure to back up your contentions with arguments.

B. 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?

C. In arguing that God exists in Meditation III, Descartes relies on the premise, which he takes to
be clear and distinct, that the cause of an idea must have at least as much formal reality as the
idea itself has objective reality. First, state how this premise is used in the proof of God’s
existence. What is its significance? Second, consider why Descartes thinks this principle is true
(besides the fact that it’s clear and distinct). You may want to discuss what the precise nature of
objective reality is. Finally, state what you take to be the best objection to this principle. How
would Descartes respond to this objection? Would his response be adequate?

EXPLANATORY ESSAY QUESTION

D. It has been said that Meditations on First Philosophy derives all of its major conclusions in metaphysics (the dualism of infinite souls and one extended reality), physics (the structure of the physical world outside the mind as geometric), psychology (the dualism of Mind-Body interaction, free will and mechanization of the body), epistemology (truth gathered from intuition, sensation as private experience, essence-existence distinction) and the theology (theism or occasional-ism) derives from God’s benevolence. In short, Descartes’ philosophy is a “transcendental metaphysics,” yet also the ground of the New Science. Write an essay demonstrating that this is indeed the case.

CRITERIA FOR PHILOSOPHY 101 ESSAY EXAM 1

THE ESSAY SHOULD BE THREE (3) PAGES DOUBLE SPACED.

THE ESSAY MUST HAVE A TITLE.

THE STANDARD FORM OF A CRITICAL ESSAY SHOULD BE FOLLOWED:

INTRODUCTION
DEVELOPMENT
CONCLUSION
CLARIFICATION OF THE FORM:

THE INTRODUCTION SHOULD STATE IMMEDIATELY THE INTENTION OF THE PAPER. TELL THE READER WHAT YOU ARE TO ACCOMPLISH IN THE ESSAY. PROVIDE A THESIS STATEMENT.

THE DEVELOPMENT SHOULD BE THAT PART OF THE PAPER WHERE YOU SHOW THE REASONS FOR YOUR FINAL CONCLUSION.

CONCLUSION CAN BE A SUMMARY OR FINAL STATEMENT WHICH YOU CLAIM THE READER OUGHT TO ACCEPT BECAUSE OF THE REASONS GIVEN PRIOR IN THE DEVELOPMENT.

YOU NEED NOT USE SOURCES OTHER THAN THE LECTURES AND TEXT, BUT IF YOU DO, YOU MUST CREDIT THE SOURCES WITH MLA DOCUMENATION.

WHEN MAKING DECISIVE POINTS IN OUR ESSAY QUOTE FROM THE TEXT. THE PAPER SHOULD HAVE QUOTES EVENLY DISTRIBUTED THROUGHOUT THE PAPER FROM BEGINNING TO END. QUOTES ARE BEST WHEN THEY ARE USED TO SUPPORT YOUR ARGUMENTS. ONE-LINERS ARE BEST!

THE ESSAY SHOULD BE FREE OF GRAMMAR MISTAKES. WATCH OUT FOR RUN ON SENTENCES AND NON-IDIOMATIC ENGLISH. YOU MAY HAVE OTHERS READ YOUR PAPER TO HELP YOU SPOT GRAMMATICAL MISTAKES.

CRITICAL QUESTION ESSAYS (A, B, OR C)

IN THE CRITICAL PAPER, IT IS NECESSARY TO STATE THE IDEAS OF DESCARTES (STATE HIS CONCLUSION(S), WHAT THE READER OF HIS MEDITATIONS OUGHT TO ACCEPT, HIS CLAIM(S) AND STATE HIS PREMISES (REASONS WHY READERS OUGHT TO ACCEPT THEM). THEN STATE WHAT IS WRONG OR RIGHT WITH HIS PREMISES AND WITH HIS CONCLUSION(S). YOU MAY USE YOUR OWN THINKING OR OUTSIDE SOURCES. IF THE LATTER, DOCUMENT YOUR SOURCES. AT THE END OF YOUR PAPER, BRIEFLY AND SIMPLY SUMMARIZE IN YOUR CONCLUSION THE MAJOR IDEAS OF THE PAPER.

EXPLANATORY QUESTION ESSAYS (D)

FOR AN EXPLANATORY PAPER, IT IS NECESSARY TO STATE CLEARLY EACH STEP OF YOUR EXPLANATION OF DESCARTES’ PHILOSOPHY. SHORT AND SUITABLE QUOTES CAN HELP YOU IN THIS TASK. THEY HAVE GREAT POWER AND CONVINCE THE READER YOU OWN WHAT YOU ARE SAYING. IT IS ESSENTIAL TO SHOW CARE, ACCURACY, AND YOUR THOUGHTS IN SEQUENTIAL ORDER.

THE GRADE FOR YOUR PAPER DEPENDS ON OBSERVING THE ABOVE CRITERIA AND ON HOW WELL YOUR THINKING IS ORGANIZED IN THE PAPER.

NOTE: ACADEMIC INTEGRITY

IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU DO YOUR OWN THINKING AND TURN IN ESSAYS THAT ARE YOUR OWN WORK. THOSE WHO PLAGIARIZE ARE NOT READY TO STUDY AND LEARN AT THE COLLEGE LEVEL. ALL PAPERS WILL BE PROCESSED THROUGH TURNITIN. HERE IS NVCC’S POLICY ON PLAGIARISM (Links to an external site.).

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