PHL 210- Intro to Philosophy Paper 2 PAPER 1- Pick from ONE of the questions below and answer in essay form. TO GET PROPER CREDIT YOU MUST: 1. Name your file: Paper Two Last Name, i.e. Paper Two Jones 2. Put your name on the actual document you are submitting.

PHL 210- Intro to Philosophy Paper 2
PAPER 1- Pick from ONE of the questions below and answer in essay form.
1. Name your file: Paper Two Last Name, i.e. Paper Two Jones
2. Put your name on the actual document you are submitting.
3. Write out and answer the question. Check all spelling and grammar in MLA format.
4. Cite all sources, direct quotes or indirect ideas using elliptic giving author AND page numbers, i.e. (Soccio 26). Failure here could result in a 0%!
5. Include a Works Cited page at the end.
6. Make sure you submit the work in Turn It In in a single Word document in doc. or docx. or richtext format.
7. Your essay is to be between 1000-1600 words. Extensive quotes (more than 20%) do not count toward this. If you cannot answer a question in these parameters, use another question. Minimum word count DOES NOT insure an excellent grade. Questions and Works Cited do not count towards the word count. You may not use Wikipedia as a source, nor recycle a previous paper from another class.


PHL 210- Intro to Philosophy Paper 2

PAPER 1- Pick from ONE of the questions below and answer in essay form.


  1. Name your file: Paper Two Last Name, i.e.   Paper Two Jones
  2. Put your name on the actual document you are submitting.
  3. Write out and answer the question. Check all spelling and grammar in MLA format.
  4. Cite all sources, direct quotes or indirect ideas using elliptic giving author AND page numbers, i.e. (Soccio 26). Failure here could result in a 0%!
  5. Include a Works Cited page at the end.
  6. Make sure you submit the work in Turn It Inin a single Word document in doc. or docx. or richtext format.
  7. Your essay is to be between 1000-1600 words. Extensive quotes (more than 20%) do not count toward this. If you cannot answer a question in these parameters, use another question. Minimum word count DOES NOT insure an excellent grade. Questions and Works Cited do not count towards the word count. You may not use Wikipedia as a source, nor recycle a previous paper from another class.


Chapter 8

  1. Compare and contrast the classical worldview with the medieval. Be specific.
  2. What does it mean to say that human beings are susceptible to principles of reason? Give examples of principles of reason. What is their connection to the origins of scholastic philosophy?
  3. Explain what Augustine was getting at when he said “I was so blind to the truth that among my companions I was ashamed to be less dissolute than they were.” As part of your explanation, assess the role of struggle in Augustine’s life. What was struggling with what?
  4. State the problem of evil, and explain how the traditional Judeo-Christian concept of God generates the problem of evil. How does Thomas solve the problem of evil? What do you think of his solution? Explain.
  5. Can God make a rock so large He cannot lift it? Why is the question significant? Explain.
  6. Is there any other explanation for motion besides an “unmoved mover”? If so, what is it? If not, is Thomas’s conclusion sound? Convincing? (page 231)
  7. Discuss the cosmological argument. Is Thomas’s reasoning sound or not? Are you comfortable with the possibility that there is no “first cause”? If there isn’t, can we explain the existence of the universe at all? Discuss. (page 232)
  8. Scholastic arguments often hinged on whether or not something was conceivable (clearly imaginable). One cardinal principle held that no one could even conceive of absolute nothingness. Do you agree? Explain. Whether or not you agree, do you find the argument from necessity convincing? Discuss. (page 234)
  9. Do you have any sense of grades of being? Is there anything in your own experience that supports Thomas’s argument? Discuss the argument from gradation. (page 235)
  10. Is order the same thing as design? Does the universe seem to be ordered and “intelligently” designed? Discuss. (For more on this intriguing topic, see Chapter 10) (page 236)
  11. In 1999, the Kansas Board of Education attracted national attention when it ruled against mandating the teaching of evolution in science classes. This sparked an ongoing national debate concerning, among other things, the adequacy of explanations of the origins of life. Do you think distinguishing between explanations inside a system and explanations that account for the system as a whole could help avoid controversies regarding science versus religion in our schools? Why? (page 238)

Chapter 9

  1. Descartes asserted that whatever we recognize “clearly and distinctly” is true. Explain the criticism that this formulation fails to meet its own standard. Do you agree that Descartes’s rationalism is based on subjective states rather than on reasons understood “clearly and distinctly”? Discuss.
  2. What is the Evil Genius, and what is its significance to the Cartesian Genesis? Explain.
  3. Give Descartes’s argument for the existence of God in your own words, then analyze it. Is it convincing? Why or why not?
  4. What is the mind-body problem? How does Descartes deal with it? Is he successful? Why or why not?
  5. Discuss Descartes’s ideas regarding a priori and a posteriori knowledge.  From where do these types of knowledge derive?  Provide examples of each in your own words.
  6. Use Descartes’s distinction between memorizing ideas and understanding them to examine your own education. Describe the distinction between learning to love psychology or literature and becoming a historian of psychology or literature in Descartes’s terms. Speculate on ways this distinction might be used to reform education. (page 257)
  7. Comment on the preceding passage. Do you agree with Descartes? Why? Is common sense the same thing as good sense? Analyze the notion of common sense. Do you really think there is such a thing? What is your evidence either way? (page 260)
  8.    A common criticism of Descartes’s standard of truth is that he failed to apply it to itself. Do we know with clarity and distinctness that only what we know with clarity and distinctness is true? Can we know it? Not if, as critics claim, Descartes’s standard is itself unclear and ambiguous. Do you have a clear and distinct idea of Descartes’s criterion? How can we tell when an inability to perceive something clearly and distinctly is the fault of the individual or of the quality of the idea? Discuss carefully. (page 262)
  9. Is Descartes correct? What about seemingly sincere, rational, and intelligent people who say they do not, perhaps cannot, see the truth of this idea about innate ideas? Compare Descartes’s problem here with Plato’s problem of accounting for ignorance of the Forms. Do you think Forms are innate ideas? Are innate ideas Forms? (See Chapter 5) (page 263)
  10. How carefully have you examined your own fundamental beliefs? What–if anything–is wrong with trusting beliefs handed down by others? Why not rely on the testing of others, trusting their conclusions? Discuss. Also comment on the tendency to believe something if it could possibly be correct. What is the relationships between possible and plausible, and what might it have to do with this entire issue? Explain. (page 264)
  11.   How do we know the difference between a dream or hallucination and reality? Seriously consider how a confused person might verify that he or she is or is not dreaming. (page 265)
  12. Before reading any further, stop for a moment and play with Descartes’s idea of an evil genius. Try to get into the spirit of doubting as much as you can. Do not be limited by what you actually doubt; this is an intellectual exercise, not a personal confession. See if you can extend the range of what might on the remotest possibility be false or other than what you think it is. Can you be absolutely sure that there is no evil genius? (page 266)
  13. When I was a student I felt compelled to challenge anything presented to me as being irrefutable. As soon as I heard about the cogito I assumed I would be able to refute it, to show that is was not necessarily true. That proved easier said than done. Try for yourself; it is interesting, and it is the only way to grasp Descartes’s point. Discuss your efforts. (page 268)
  14. Some philosophers doubt that we really do have a clear and distinct (precise) idea of God. Reflect on the idea of God. Is it clear and distinct? Do you have a clear and distinct idea of perfection–in beings or automobiles or marriages or anything? Does Descartes’s argument? (page 272)
  15. How plausible is this “official doctrine”? On Descartes’s own terms, how “clearly and distinctly” do we understand the relationship of the mind to the body? How can a completely nonphysical thing interact with a completely physical thing? To ask Mark Twain’s insightful question, How come the mind gets drunk when the body does the drinking? Why does my mind react to what happens to my body with such intensity if it’s not part of my body? (page 276)

Chapter 10



1.What is the philosophical significance of the question “Does a tree falling in the forest make a sound if no one is there to hear it?” Explain.


2.Explain how Hume distinguished between “impressions” and “ideas.” Why is the distinction important to his philosophy?


3.What is the empirical criterion of meaning? Explain how it works by applying it to an example of your own choosing.


4.In your own words, characterize Hume’s position regarding personal identity and immortality.


5.First summarize, then analyze Hume’s critique of the argument from design. Do you agree with Hume? Explain


  1. Have you ever been angry or insulted when someone pressed you for evidence? Or has anyone ever gotten angry with you for asking for evidence? Why do you suppose that is? Is it rude to ask “How do you know that?” or “Can you prove that?” when people make claims about important, or even not so important, things? Analyze this question and see if you can justify not asking for evidence. (page 282)


  1. Who is a qualified expert in areas such as psychic phenomena, miracles, nutrition, or philosophy? What is the relationship between the reports of experts and your own experience? When the two conflict, which should you trust? Why? How do you know? (page 283)


  1. Reflect on the claim that ideas are copies of sensations by considering these ideas: love, God, perfection, wisdom. Can you identify the precise sensations to which they correspond? (page 290)


  1. Think about the notion of mind as contrasted to the brain and brain states. It seems clear that our behavior, moods, and even thoughts can be influenced by factors we are unaware of. These might include fatigue, hunger, the effects of medication, allergies, neurological disorders, and so on. Could we also have ideas, motives, and emotions we are aware of? That is, could we have an “unconscious mind”? (page 291)
  2. Apply the empirical criterion of meaning to such concepts as God, love, creativity, and intelligence. What, in general, do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of this criterion? (page 298)
  3. Where and what are “you” in the midst of some exciting experience that totally absorbs your consciousness? That is, what happens to yourself when you are not aware of it? What exactly are you aware of when you are self-conscious? A “self,” or sweaty plans, an uncomfortable desk, or a boring lecture? Discuss. (page 300)
  4. Have you been able to take Hume’s strictest claims seriously? That is, have you seriously considered the possibility that we lack knowledge of the external world? Discuss some factors that make taking this idea seriously so difficult. Can you spot any errors in Hume’s reasoning ?(page 302)
  5. Hume’s point here is very important. Don’t rush by it. Take a moment and try to write a purely factual description of something you believe is immoral. Do you agree with Hume that the facts are value-neutral and that all moral judgments are reports of feelings associated with certain facts? Explain why or why not. (page 308)


Chapter 11

1.Briefly explain how Kant completed the “epistemological turn” begun by Descartes and progressively developed by Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.

2.What did Kant mean by “a scandal in philosophy”? Was he right? Explain.

3.Distinguish between phenomena and noumena. Give examples of each. Why did Kant think it necessary to posit the existence of the noumenal world?

4.Why does Kant claim that the only thing good-in-itself is a good will? Explain exactly what he means. Is he right?

5.What is the categorical imperative? What is the practical imperative? Show how they are related by applying them to one or two contemporary moral issues.


  1. Think for a moment about a nonmoral world, a world in which no one is held morally accountable. In such a world, every action would be viewed as the inevitable result of genetic, social, and historical causes. What are the advantages of such a view? The disadvantages? Think about some time when you made an excuse for yourself, claiming that you “couldn’t help” doing or not doing something. What is gained and lost by making such excuses? (page 316)
  2. Have you ever met or heard of someone with no idea of self? What would such a person be like? What about people with multiple personality disorder? One woman claims to have ninety-four “personalities.” Would such a person have ninety-four “selves” too? (page 325)
  3. What would a person be like who could choose only what he or she desired? Do you think it is possible to choose to do something if no desire whatsoever is involved? Explain. (page 328)
  4. Psychologists have identified a character disorder that is labeled as either “sociopathic” or “antisocial personality disorder.” One component of this diagnosis is that such people are amoral, lacking any conscience. Do you know people without any sense of moral duty? What are they like? Does the existence of such people mean there is no such thing as a necessary, universal, moral law? Discuss. (page 329)
  5. Does the idea of a good will help our analysis of the sociopath in the preceding Philosophical Query? Explain. (page 330)
  6. Do you think it is possible to have only one motive for an action? Is it common to have only one motive? Is it important to distinguish moral motives from pragmatic ones? Why? Compare Kant with Hume on the issue of moral sentiments. (page 332)
  7. To get a clearer sense of the power of the categorical imperative to clarify the nature of various forms of behavior, formulate and then analyze the maxims that are required to justify the following: charging things on credit without being sure you can pay them off on time; enrolling in two different high-demand courses so that you can check them both out and drop the one you don’t like; having unprotected sex without knowing if you are HIV positive; talking in the theater; forcing schools to teach the values of your religion. (page 334)
  8. Consider the actual case of the parents who conceived a child for the express purpose of producing a bone marrow donor for their teenaged daughter who had leukemia. Doctors advised the parents that a bone marrow transplant was the only hope of saving their daughter’s life. Unable to find a compatible donor match, the parents took the desperate step of having another child. In 1991, bone marrow from the specially conceived child, then just over one year old, was transplanted to her nineteen-year-old sister. Can the parents’ action be morally justified? Explain. (page 337)
  9. Conduct your own thought experiment by using the concept of a veil of ignorance to write a code of conduct for college courses. Imagine that you do not know if you are a pupil or professor, or any other personal factors. Does the veil of ignorance aid in such tasks, or is something overlooked? Explain. (page 338)

Chapter 12


1.Characterize simple utilitarianism. How do egoism and hedonism figure into this philosophy? Explain.


2.What is the hedonic calculus? Apply it to a real-life case, and assess its strengths and weaknesses.


3.Discuss the “egoistic hook” that Bentham discovered and explain its significance to his philosophy.


4.Compare and contrast refined utilitarianism and simple utilitarianism.


5.In your own words, present Mill’s basic argument for qualitative differences among pleasures. Then analyze it.

  1. Think carefully about Malthus’s arguments. Can you think of any current evidence to support Malthus’s view? Can you think of any evidence against it? (page 347)
  2. Can you identify any pleasures “which all or almost all who have experience of both give a decided preference, irrespective of any feeling of moral obligation to prefer it, even though knowing it to be attended with a greater amount of discontent, and would not resign it for any quantity of the other pleasures which their nature is capable of”? (page 357)
  3. What would we make of someone who did choose ignorance? Could such a person be sane and rational? Reflect on the following: To be considered sane and rational, a person must recognize the value of both sanity and reason. If so, then by definition no sane or rational person can choose a radical diminishment of an essential capacity such as knowledge. What do you think of this argument? (page 359)
  4. Identify and discuss one or two current issues in which this kind of utilitarian appeal to altruism through self-interest might be effective. Explain your reasoning, and discuss some of the details involved in implementing your suggestions. (page 363)

Chapter 13


1.Carefully explain why Marx’s philosophy is sometimes called historical materialism.


2.What is the dialectical process of history? Explain it in terms of the five epochs of history.


3.What did Marx see as the inherent contradiction in capitalism? How is the contradiction related to his prophesy of violent revolution? Do you think his analysis is sound? Explain.


4.Thoroughly explain Marx’s concept of alienation. What is alienated labor? What is unalienated labor? What is species-life, and what roles do consciousness and alienation play in it?


5.Does the failure of Soviet communism indicate that Marx was wrong about communism being the end of history? If not, why did communism fail in the Soviet Union?

  1. Contemporary economists worry that although historically the American economy has been remarkably strong, the past few years have witnessed a major housing collapse, labor unrest, increasing and persistent unemployment, and declining tax revenues, along with global crises affecting the cost of health care, oil, cotton, and food. Do you think today’s economic uncertainties are associated with the globalization of capitalism? If so, is this the beginning of the end of capitalism that Marx foresaw? Or are there other, better explanations? (page 378)
  2. Analyze your education from the standpoint of relationships of production. What—and whose—values does public education really serve? (page 380)
  3. Compare kinds of contributions: Who contributes more—the builders who construct houses or the developers who finance them? Who contributes more—the president of a corporation or the secretaries? Are such comparisons fair? Are ideas contributions? Analyze the concept of “contribution.” (page 381)
  4. Do you think that the growth of complex, international corporations, multinational trade alliances, and Internet commerce that are fueling what some observers refer to as the “global economy” or “world village” are signs of a spreading bourgeoisie? Is the “capitalist class” creating “a world after its own image”? (page 382)
  5. Analyze some corporate scandals of the past few years from a Marxist perspective. Pay particular attention to the enormous compensation packages paid to CEOs in contrast to the devastating pension plan and stock market losses incurred by average workers. (page 384)
  6. Discuss the possibility that efforts to “honor” racial, ethnic, age, and gender diversity actually serve the interests of an exploitative class by creating increased consciousness of difference and division. Are efforts to “honor diversity” aiding or hindering class consciousness? Is there a better solution to social inequality? If so, what? (page 386)
  7. Discuss some of the ways that alienation spreads from the workplace into society at large and into the home in particular. Has it affected your life? Your church? Your classes? Then identify and discuss activities in which you participate in species-life. What can you do to decrease periods of alienation and increase your own species-life? (page 390)

Chapter 14

1.What was Kierkegaard’s “universal formula”? How did it influence his thinking? What did he learn from the episode with Regina Olsen?


2.What did Kierkegaard mean by “the crowd” and why was he so critical of it? Do you agree with his assessment? Explain.


3.Explain what Kierkegaard meant when he said that “truth is subjectivity.” Is this the same as “truth is relative”? Explain.


4.What does Kierkegaard mean by “becoming a subject”? Why is “becoming a subject” so important to his philosophical enterprise?


5.What is the leap of faith and why does Kierkegaard characterize it as the “teleological suspension of the ethical”?

  1. 6. Reflect back over your philosophical studies so far. Can you recognize yourself in the philosophies you’ve studied? In which ones? (page 396)
  2. How do you make life choices? Do you make them clearly and consciously, or do things just somehow happen? Is it possible to choose without being fully engaged? Does your religion or philosophy help you make concrete choices? Does a psychological theory? (page 404)
  3. Identify some current examples of leveling, and discuss the general notion of leveling. Must efforts at furthering equality result in leveling? Is leveling possibly desirable? (page 409)
  4. Why do you think Kierkegaard makes one of the horses “a Pegasus” and the other “a worn-out jade”? Who was Pegasus? What is a worn-out jade? (Hint: This has something to do with Kierkegaard’s profound interest in his and our relationship to God.) (page 412)
  5. Compare Kierkegaard’s claims about the limits of objectivity and reason with Hume’s assertion that “reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions” (Chapter 10). (page 412)
  6. Think back to the example of a cart being hauled by a Pegasus and a worn-out jade. Is Kierkegaard’s reason for choosing those two horses getting perhaps a bit clearer? (page 413)
  7. Contrast Kierkegaard’s approach to theological arguments to Aquinas’s Five Ways and Descartes’s ontological argument. (See Chapters 8 and 9.) (page 414)

Chapter 15

1.Explain what pragmatists mean by the “cash value” of an idea. Explain what it means to assert that “truth happens.” Give an example, then evaluate.


2.Compare and contrast tough-mindedness with tender-mindedness. What is the significance of this distinction for James’s pragmatism?


3.Analyze the significance of “regret” to James’s assessment of the dilemma of determinism. Do you think that James is correct? Why or why not?


4.What is the dilemma of determinism? How does James deal with it? What do you think of his approach? Explain.


5.Explain what James meant when he claimed that a religious orientation is more effective than a nonreligious one. Do you agree? Why or why not?

  1. Can you think of recent examples supporting the claim that “truth happens to an idea”? Some Protestant churches, for example, have begun revising their policies regarding birth control, abortion, and gay marriage because older beliefs lack “cash value” for many of today’s churchgoers. These churches usually experience a period of soul-searching turmoil, wrestling with the dilemma of holding on to old beliefs or losing touch with their congregations. Can you cite one or two recent examples of truth happening to an idea from current events or from your own situation? (page 438)
  2. Do you find it impossible to doubt that you possess free will–at least sometimes? Is belief in the possibility of free will necessary for your happiness? (page 441)
  3. Discuss your formal and informal education in terms of the preceding passage. Have you been encouraged to adopt a strenuous mood or an easygoing one? Give some specific examples. Do you think James is on the right track? Why or why not? (page 443)

9.What do you think of James’s claim that morbid-minded people have a fuller, more realistic view of things than health-minded ones? How would you classify yourself? Discuss some of the strengths and weaknesses of both orientations. (page 446)

Chapter 16

1.What is meant by modernity? What was Nietzsche’s view of modernity? Explain.


2.What is the will to power? What role does it play in Nietzsche’s critique of modernity?


3.What does Nietzsche mean when he accuses modern Western culture of being moralistic? What is a reaction formation? How are the concepts of being moralistic and reaction formation related?


4.What is amor fati? How does it relate to Nietzsche’s overall philosophy? Explain.


5.What is herd morality? What produces it? What stands against it? Which do you prefer, herd morality or the morality that opposes it? Explain.


  1. Some philosophers claim that all philosophy is a form of autobiography. By that they mean that all philosophy–and indeed all thinking and perceiving–expresses and reflects uniquely personal qualities of the philosopher. In your opinion, do the life circumstances of philosophers help us evaluate their writings? Do you think autobiographical considerations are significant? Insignificant? Discuss and explain. (page 461)
  2. Do you think that the presence of a perspective makes a neutral stance impossible? What do you think neutral means in this kind of case? Does it mean perspectiveless? If it means something else, what else? Are perspectives the same things as biases? Discuss and explain. (page 462)
  3. Do you think todays “marketplace” mentality discourages excellence in individuals? Using specific examples, discuss why or why not. (page 474)
  4. As you might expect, Nietzsche’s characterization of slave morality was and remains controversial. Do you think it is dangerous? Is it unfair to expect most people not to have some ressentiment? Is today’s tendency to see many people as “victims” a reflection of slave morality? (page 476)


Chapter 17



1.Compare and contrast analytic and continental philosophy.


2.Explain what Wittgenstein was driving at when he said that “what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about must be passed over in silence.” When he said that, did he think that philosophy could be “said”? If not, why not? Explain.


3.Use the controversy surrounding Heidegger’s apparent refusal to repudiate his purported Nazism to discuss the broader issue of the relationship between a philosopher’s personal life and character and his or her philosophical arguments and views. Is it fair to judge ideas in terms of the character of their advocates? Is it reasonable, in a practical sense, to insist that the philosopher is irrelevant? Does it matter more when the philosopher addresses “living issues” than when he or she deals with abstractions or analytic problems? Should it? Does it matter philosophically if a proponent of vegetarianism eats meat? When, if ever, are a philosopher’s personal beliefs and habits philosophically relevant? Explain and be specific.


4.What is the role of attitude in Heidegger’s philosophy and how does “comportment” relate to an individual’s attitude toward the world? As part of your explanation, distinguish between things ready-to-hand and present-at-hand.


5.What is the relation between Being and language according to Heidegger? As part of your explanation, distinguish idle talk from dialog. What role does conversation play in human history according to Heidegger?

  1. Has language ever “bewitched” your intelligence? Think carefully before you say no. Consider, as just three possibilities, “he changed his mind,” “she is not being her true self,” “God is everywhere.”(page 489)
  2. Do you believe that there is anything whereof we cannot–not should not, but cannot–speak? Explain. (page 491)
  3. What do you think? Are philosophical problems really problems of language? Is philosophy a funny way of talking that appears to be more substantive than it, in fact, is? If not, what is philosophy really about and for? (page 493)
  4. Have you ever had a truly charismatic teacher? How does a “charismatic” teacher differ from a merely appealing, powerful one?If so, was his or her influence positive or negative? Explain. (You might want to double-check the meaning of charismatic before deciding.) (page 496)
  5. Do you agree with Rorty that Heidegger’s Nazism is irrelevant to his philosophy? Would his religious beliefs be relevant? Is the issue the same of logicians as it is for existentialists? Does it matter philosophically if a proponent of vegetarianism eats meat? When, if ever, are a philosopher’s personal beliefs and habits philosophically relevant? Discuss (page 499)
  6. Do we take Being for granted? If so, is that a symptom of a loss or evidence of cultural progress and stability? That is, does it matter if we take being human for granted in a world that, for all of its problems, is a better world than ever before? Or is it–really–better? Is the modern, technological, busy-busy world more, or less, human than it once was? Can we ever know? (page 504)
  7. Sociopaths are commonly characterized in terms of their extreme detachment from others, a radical detachment that leads some experts to suggest that sociopaths see other people as objects, things, entities, things “just there.” Discuss the possibility that sociopaths are examples of entities most out of touch with humanity–with humanness. Do we want to go so far as to say that, in their inability to see others as human beings, sociopaths are themselves not human? Why or why not? (page 505)
  8. Apply the notion of disburdening idle talk to today’s mass media pundits and experts. Scrutinize op-ed articles, blogs– especially blogs– and television talk shows to examples of “they” talk. Be alert for different “theys”: conservatives and liberals, fundamentalists and secularists, males and females, blacks, whites, and Latinos, for example. Must all such mass talk be idle? Why or why not? (page 508)
  9. Compare Kierkegaard’s and Nietzsche’s critique of “the present age” with Heidegger’s. What do these critiques have in common? How do such “existentially oriented” critiques differ from, say, Plato’s critique of democracy? In regard to Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Heidegger, what do you think of their disease about modernity? Do you share it? (page 509)
  10. Take a technology inventory of your own life. Here are some obvious places to start: What role does the Internet play in your study habits, music and video consumption, social interaction, work? As a consumer, look for less-than-obvious forms of technology, from UPC scanners to the things you buy or want to buy. Look around your school and classroom for examples of technology. Then reflect on how technology affects how you think about life and what you want from it. (page 512)



Chapter 18


1.What exactly did philosophical historian Will Durant mean when he stated that, “It is the age of Socrates again”?  How well does his assessment of American culture in 1929 coincide with twenty-first century issues and concerns?


2.Some philosophers argue that “autobiographical” considerations are irrelevant when it comes to philosophy.  What do they mean by autobiographical considerations, and why is this issue significant?  Do you believe this to be a philosophical issue or not? Explain your answer.


3.Consider Marcus Aurelius’s comment: “Do not wait for Plato’s Republic, but be happy if one little thing leads to progress, and reflect on the fact that what results from such a little thing is not, in fact, so very little.”  What does he mean by this statement? Can you relate his thinking to your view of your own ability to impact the world around you?  If so, then how?  If not, then why not?


4.What does Nussbaum mean when she describes her philosophy as “Neo-stoic”? Why does she describe her philosophy this way?


5.Compare Nussbaum’s and Hadot’s arguments on behalf of philosophy as a way of life. Do they differ?  In what ways, if at all, are they mutually supportive?  Explain your answer.



  1. Given the horrors of our age– the threat of nuclear annihilation, chemical weapons, terrorism, child abuse, rampant pollution, AIDS and cancer, homelessness, ecological disasters, and famine–which do you see as more horrible: the absence of God or the silence of God? Is God silent? (page 526)


  1. If valuing depends on choosing, and not the other way around, what do you value? Assess your values with a Sartrean analysis of your actions. For instance, do you value your job more than school? To find out, see which receives most of your time, thoughts, and actions. Test other aspects of your life. What are the strengths and weaknesses of such a view of valuing and choosing? (page 528)


  1. Discuss the preceding passage, especially the last part. Have you ever felt that circumstances are against you? To what extent do circumstances matter? To what extent do they excuse and explain our life? Our self? Our character? (page 529)


  1. Discuss categorizing philosophical areas of specialization along gender, ethnic, and other autobiographical lines turn “doing philosophy” into sociology or social work? Is this a philosophical question? If not, why not? If so, who is qualified to deal with it? (page 534)