Part I: Q&A Discussion Forum: You will be asked to come up with two original questions based
on the work of two different authors in each week’s required readings. Think about what stood out
to you in the works in question—what ideas, theories, or approaches did you find to be interesting,
engaging, or perhaps intriguing or challenging? (See each Discussion Forum for the specific authors
or works you may select from in forming your questions.)
Your task is then to do your best to answer each of your own questions as incisively and thoroughly
as possible within a word-count range of around 350-500 words maximum (posts with fewer than
250 words will not receive any credit). The word count includes your question but not any citations.
You must cite at least one source, which will be the particular essay or article from the required
readings you are addressing. You are welcome to bring in as many others sources as you may need,
but this is optional. Just be sure to cite any source from which you take ideas, arguments, or
passages of language within the body of your response (next to the quoted or paraphrased passages),
including the full source information at the end of your response (you need not do a separate works
cited or reference page for this assignment). Your score for this part of the assignment will be based
on the relevance, sophistication, and originality of your questions as well as the insight,
understanding, and incisiveness expressed in your answers. This assignment will be due at the end of
day on each Friday of the course.
In these essay-style responses to your own questions, you should express a point of view and
support your view with good reasons, evidence, examples, expert opinion, etc. High marks will not
be achieved by simply reporting back information from the text or other sources. Philosophical
thinking and writing involves more than presenting information; beyond doing this, you must also
critically assess the issue in question—this involves original thinking and analysis. Moreover, you
should attempt to come to some final position in response to the question and include evaluation of
others’ positions or views on the issues involved in the question. Work for originality and
development of critical analyses and evaluations.
HERE IS THE REQUIRED READINGS:
- Study Guide [supplemental reading]: SparkNotes on Russell’s Problems of Philosophy: Chapter I ; Chapter II ; Chapter III ; Chapter IV .
- Plato, Euthyphro (entire): [ Introductory Notes on the Euthyphro from The Online Library of Liberty, Plato, Dialogues, vol. 2 : See pp. 88-115 for Jowett’s translation of the Euthyphro].
- Study Guide [supplemental reading]: Euthyphro: Introductory Notes .
- Plato, Republic, Book IV, §437b-441e; Books VI-VII, §509d-521a [Excerpts can be found here: Plato, Dialogues, vol. 3 : Bk. IV, pp. 272-278; Bk. VII, pp. 351-360; and also here: Plato: Complete Works , Ed. John M. Cooper, Bk.IV, pp. 1099/1068-1104/1073; Bk. VII, pp. 1161/1130-1169/1138. [Please note that the three items below are for further study but not required reading.]
- For further study and comparison, read this concise and annotated contemporary translation of the Allegory of the Cave from Book VII of the Republic .
- For further study, read this brief analysis of the Allegory of the Cave retrieved from http://personal.tcu.edu/jrharris/sample.pdf.
- For a further analysis of Socrates’s explanation of the divided line at the very end of Book VI, read this article by John Malcolm ” The Line and the Cave ,” 1962.
- Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Preface; Meditations I-II, pp. 1-12 [ [You can find an in-depth analysis of Descartes’s philosophy and more of his work here: The Online Library of Liberty ].
For general research on any philosophical topic, theme, or major philosopher, here are two excellent online sources:
After completing this week’s assigned chapters of Russell’s The Problems of Philosophy as well as the other required readings for this week, first, summarize what you learned from reading Russell this week. Then, your main goal in this assignment beyond the summary is to tie together any theories, themes, concepts, important ideas, arguments, important observations, etc. you discover in Russell’s work and the particular philosophical views and the general content covered in the other readings. For example, in Week One, you will be summarizing Chapters I-IV in The Problems of Philosophy, and then you will look for how what he says there links up with, adds to, or even conflicts with the philosophical views and ideas of Plato and Descartes. There will plenty of material that will invite comparison and analysis. Please take a moment to review the complete before completing this assignment.
This brief, informal essay should be in the 400-500-word range. You may submit your “Russell Round Up” as a file attachment or simply write it directly into the text editor (but best practice is always to save your work in a file so you don’t risk losing it if your computer shuts down). Please pay careful attention to grammar, spelling, word use, and writing style; this means you need to proofread your work before submitting it. This assignment is worth 5 points (weighted at 5%). It is due at the end of day on each Saturday of the course.
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