We’ve arrived! Your first paper! It should be 2-3 double-spaced pages (12 Font), following this basic structure:
1. INTRODUCTION: this includes a thesis statement and a lead-in for your reader, briefly explaining what you are going to do in the paper; include a mention of the relevant authors/philosophers (full name) and their relevant works
2. EXPLANATION/BACKGROUND: this includes a clear exposition and explanation of the important arguments/views/ideas that the paper is addressing; this sets the stage for your argument for your thesis
3. ARGUMENT: this is the analytic/philosophic heart of the paper, in which you make your case for your thesis
4. SUMMARY: here you briefly review what you have done in the paper, to wrap it up for your reader
Keep in mind that you are writing for a reader! By the time you get to the composition of your final draft, it all may seem to you like it’s getting old. But remember that it’s new to your reader. Make sure the paper is self-contained so that your reader can follow it without having to go to sources to figure it out. Write for an intelligent person who has not taken a philosophy course. (Pick a favorite friend, for example.)
TOPICS: Please choose one of the general topics below :
1. Select one of Aquinas’s arguments for the existence of God. Carefully explain it and give your own analysis (in your own words). Evaluate the strength of the argument.
2. Explain Descartes’ method of doubt as it is applied in Med. 1. Explore what life lessons there are in this way of examining what one knows.
3. Neil DeGrasse Tyson has an intriguing response to the argument from design (for the existence of God). Select some aspect of his presentation to carefully explain and analyze. (Video presented in the Announcements.)
4. Does Tyson present a convincing case against the argument from design? Explain his view and support your answer.
Organize your papers around the given structure. Tell your reader what you will be doing in the paper and introduce the major players, in a short introduction. Take your time! This is not a research paper ~~~ no outside sources, please! Use the bright light of your own intelligence and imagination, our e-Resources and our class Discussions as your primary sources.
These papers should demonstrate the standards for solid analytical college papers, which include good grammar, clear organization utilizing paragraphs, a clearly stated thesis and an argument for that thesis. Formal footnotes aren’t necessary. You may give initials of any text and page number, or e-Resource title, in parentheses *after* the sentence.
Brief Overview of Descartes’ Meditations
Descartes’ Meditations comprise an extended argument or, as Descartes the great mathematician thinks of it, proof for the existence of God, the external world and non-physical minds. Descartes argues that he is essentially a thinking thing, and not a physical thing. He argues that his mind comprises his essence and it can exist independent of his body.
The method of doubt is employed to deliberately and intentionally, for the purposes of the greater argument, call the maximum number of beliefs into question. Who’s to say that I’m not dreaming as I sit here on the porch? If I am dreaming, while in my bed sleeping, it’s false that I’m sitting here on the porch. Descartes holds that some beliefs, like those involving fundamental elements of the world, might not be subject to the dream argument. So, in a sort of double whammy, he introduces the possibility of the evil spirit, or evil genius. Who’s to say that there is not an evil spirit bent on deceiving us? How could we prove that there is not? He ends the Meditation on the supposition that an evil genius might be deceiving us about anything and everything. This supposition is his deliberately “maximizing” doubt. Once he calls everything into question that is possible, he will, attempt to show in the end that we can be certain of many things.
Does any belief survive the ravages of the evil genius hypothesis? Descartes argues that one does and this one is going to be the solid foundation for a reconstruction of his beliefs. That cornerstone belief is know as the “Cogito”: “I think, therefore I am”. Descartes cannot doubt that he exists because he thinks, doubts, fears, etc., and these things require a thinker.
Using the Cogito, Descartes argues that God exists. This is one of two arguments for God. The other is in Meditation 5. The argument for God’s existence is the necessary bridge to the argument for the external world. Both arguments are of course complicated and highly controversial. Volumes of philosophy have been written on these.
This Meditation centers on an account of human error, in a world created by an omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent God.
Here is the second “proof” for God.
Here is the argument that the external world, along with all its objects, exists pretty much as we perceive it, since God is not a deceiver. Also, there is a restatement and reinforcement of the extended argument that there are two kinds of substances in the world: mind and matter.