Ancient Philosophy Final Exam Study Questions

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Al-Ghazali (pp. 73-77)

According to the Al-Ghazali reading, what is the problem with the ancient philosophers? What is the danger inherent in following them? (100 words – 2 pts.)

According to Al-Ghazali, the problem with the ancient philosophers is that they disregard the law and blindly accept ideas that hold little weight. These ancient philosophers ignored positive commandments such as devotion and abstinence from forbidden things. They recognized God, and had faith in Him and His messengers, but faltered away and caused others to stray away as well.

The potential inherent danger in following them is that one may start to believe in their incoherent beliefs and inconsistent metaphysical theories. Thus, following ancient philosophers could result in one being perceived as a fool in the eyes of the more intelligent/those who understand more.

Averroes (pp. 78-82)

What is an allegorical interpretation? Under what conditions is an allegorical interpretation either more or less appropriate? (100 words – 2 pts.)

An allegorical interpretation is a metaphysical interpretation of an event or scripture.

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Averroes notes that this should be done without violating the standard metaphorical practices of Arabic. An allegorical interpretation is more appropriate when an observation stands in conflict with what the scriptures say about that being or understanding. Averroes also notes that there are contradictions in scripture to meet the varying intellectual levels of humanity. Muslims and Christian believers accept the principle or idea of allegorical interpretation but disagree on which should or should not be interpreted.

Augustine (pp. 83-92)

According to Augustine, all natures (meaning everything) are good simply because they exist.

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So what is evil? Do you think Augustine is right? Why or why not? (150 words – 3 pts.)

For Augustine, the answer to “what is evil?’ is that evil is the act of turning away from God. As Augustine put it, the “defection from that which supremely is, to that which has less being” this is to begin to have an evil will.” I think that Augustine is partially correct in how he believes evil exists in nature. I argue that everyone starts out their lives similarly in regards to the very nature of their character but there is some process that influences one to turn to evil. However, I believe that happens regardless of God or a belief in God. I believe those influences have to do with culture, societal norms, human nature and the like. Instead of evil being a “defection’ from God, I believe it is a defection from a genuine belief in goodness.

Thomas Aquinas

Thomas attempts to prove the existence of God in five ways. List his five proofs. Then explain, in your own view, whether any one of these five arguments successfully proves that God exists. (150 words; 3 points)

The first proof is that things in motion were put into motion by something else. Therefore, there must have been a “first mover” to put the first thing into motion.

The second proof states the nature of efficient causation. Similar to the first proof, there must have be a first cause that caused everything else.

The third proof is that something had to have existed out of its own necessity and have caused other necessities for beings and things so things could exist.

The forth proof is that there are things that are more good and things that are less good. There must be an ultimate good that others are derived from.

The fifth proof is that there must be an ultimate being that directs all thing to their end, goal, or purpose.

In my own view, I do not think that any of these proofs prove that there is an existence of God. I think that we, rational human beings, put ourselves in motion. While there can be speculation, I find myself putting trust in what I can undoubtedly know. That is, that my parents put me into motion and caused my existence. Everything else before that is a chain, in my view. My grandparents conceived my parents and so on and so forth. Whether or not all that stems from a God is something that I am not sure I will ever know.

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Ancient Philosophy Final Exam Study Questions

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