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Philosophy Prep Essay

1. What are the different branches of philosophy, and what are they about?

2.Explain what a fallacy is. What kind of mistake is someone making when they commit a formal fallacy in an argument?

3. What is “wisdom,” and how does philosophy relate to it?

4. Describe the nature of critical thinking. What advantage does the critical thinker have over someone who lacks that skill?

5. Describe and explain the steps in the critical-thinking process.

6. What is wrong with “relativism” as a thought process? What does the relativist need to understand?

7. What do you think you can fruitfully learn from the study of philosophy? How can you apply philosophy to your life?

8. Describe the influence of Homer on early Greek thought. How did he pave the way for philosophical thought?

9. Describe and explain the underlying philosophy of knowledge that guided Socrates’ method of knowledge.

10. Who were the sophists, and why did they oppose Socrates?

11. Explain why Socrates was arrested. How did he respond to the charges against him?

12. Explain Plato’s view of the soul. Why did he liken it to a chariot?

13. What was Descartes’ conclusion about the nature of the self, and how did he arrive at that conclusion?

14. How did John Locke’s views differ from those of Descartes? How did that
determine Locke’s views of the self?

15. What was Hume’s argument for the position that there is no such thing as the self?

16. What was distinctive about Kant’s view of the nature of self as related to experience?

17. What was Ryle’s view of the mental as it relates to the physical? How did Ryle’s view differ from those before him?

18. What are the two forms of physicalism? How do they differ from each other?

19. What is determinism? How is it different from the thesis that there is no free will?

20. What is hard determinism, and how is it argued for?

21. What did Baron D’Holbach mean by saying that “Absence of constraint is not absence of necessity”?

22. Explain the distinction that was made by W.T. Stace in arguing for the compatibility of free will with determinism.

23.What did Moritz Schlick mean by saying “If decisions were causeless there would be no sense in trying to influence men…”. What role did this thought have in his theory of free will?

24. What is existentialism? Explain Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialist position on the nature of free actions.

25. Give some examples of questions that are asked in metaphysics. Which one(s) do you think are best indicative of the subject matter of metaphysics? Explain.

26. Describe the subject matter of epistemology, and explain what questions in epistemology you think are worth pursuing.

27. Describe Plato’s doctrine of the Forms. What questions was it meant to answer?

28. Describe Plato’s hierarchical metaphysics, explaining the relationships between the levels.

29. Explain and contrast the theories of knowledge of rationalism and empiricism.

30. How did Descartes go out about pursuing only knowledge that could be absolutely certain? What did he find?


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