philosophy essay You have three possible topics to choose from: (1) Select one o
philosophy essay You have three possible topics to choose from: (1) Select one of the three critics of Descartes we have read–Princess Elisabeth, Anton Wilhelm Amo, or Sor Juana–and defend their criticism of Descartes or defend Descartes from their criticism. Whether you choose to defend Descartes or one of his critics, provide at least three reasons to support your argument. (2) Compare and contrast Zera Yacob and Descartes to argue that one has a better position on the relation of mind/soul to God and Nature than the other (3) Compare and contrast the different methods (Descartes--'doubt' and 'meditation' and 'demonstration'; Zera Yacob--'inquiry' as a method of division and the opposition of 'natural/divine law' vs 'human law') and argue in favor of one method over the other. Whose method is more capable of generating truth? Introductory Paragraph: To introduce your paper topic (one of the systems of the four philosophers we have read), you do not need to write about the historical context, reception, or your impressions of the system. You only have four pages to explain the concepts of soul, world, and divinity in that system, so my recommendation is that you start with the first sentence! As you start writing the first paragraph, keep this list in mind: - An exegetical paper is reconstructive: you are expected to guide your reader to a basic understanding of the philosophical position or concepts you are discussing. Your task is not to defend the philosophical position (although you should reconstruct it generously) or to criticize the philosophical position. The purpose of this exercise is to develop the skills you need to analyze a philosophical text into what you take its most essential concepts/arguments to be and then present these to someone in a clear way. - An exegetical paper is non-exhaustive: you are not expected to discuss every feature of the philosophical position you are discussing, which would only detract from the quality of the essay, though you are expected to explain all of the concepts or arguments that you introduce. (As a caution: if you don’t have the space or time to explain a concept in your essay, don’t feel too bad about leaving it out. It is much better to introduce fewer concepts and arguments and give satisfactory explanations of them than to introduce more concepts or arguments than you can explain.) You are expected to end your introductory paragraph with a thesis. Thesis: At the end of your introductory paragraph, you are expected to write a thesis statement. Though this is not an argumentative paper, all philosophy papers are defenses of a claim or an argument–that is, they take the form of “given A, B, and C premises, I argue that D.” A philosophy paper proceeds from premises to a conclusion, and the argument or claim you make is successful if it is clear how you arrive at your conclusion given your premises. → For example: Given that Plato’s concept of the soul as self-moving has more to do with the irreducibility of our ethical judgments about someone’s character than the way certain (animated) bodies move themselves, I argue that Plato’s concept of the soul has only a contingent relation to the body (and the material world) but a necessary relation to the divine. Though your thesis does not have to have the exact form of “given… I argue that…”, your thesis statement should briefly name or list the different concepts/arguments you will be discussing and indicate the conclusion you will draw from them. Body: As you write the body of your paper, keep in mind that the reader should be able to follow your overall argument. This means that your body should be ordered–e.g., broken down into one part on the concept of nature in a system and another part on the concept of ethics–and this order should be signposted–e.g., end/begin paragraphs with sentences like ‘Having discussed the concept of soul in this system, we can now turn to the concept of the divine…’–in a way that is consistent with your thesis statement. (In other words, if your thesis statement says, for example, that you will discuss the concept of soul in the system you chose and then the concept of the divine, your body should not begin with the concept of the divine.) Ideally, each paragraph will be devoted to a single concept or argument, but it won’t be held against you if you deviate from this ideal given the difficulties of writing about philosophical systems, concepts, and arguments. Conclusion: Rather than restating or summarizing the concepts/arguments you have discussed, in your conclusion you should focus on taking a broader perspective–that is, tell your reader what they are supposed to take away as the overall lesson or focus of your paper. (E.g., ‘As I have demonstrated, the concept of soul in Aristotle’s On the Soul is intrinsically related to his concept of the Unmoved Mover.’) In the concluding paragraph, you may also write about the consequences of the position you have explained to your reader (e.g., ‘And this philosophical position can help us think through X problem today…’) or indicate the future work that you believe your paper points to (e.g., ‘Though outside of the scope of this paper, the concept of the divine in Avicenna seems to connect to or address…’).

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