Senior Humanities I reading guide for



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Reading guide for Looking at Philosophy:
While Looking at Philosophy is not a particularly challenging text (note that there are cartoons on almost every page, that the font is very large and that it is written in an easy style), and while you certainly should expect to encounter significantly more difficult texts next year in college, I do understand that the subject matter is likely new to you. Therefore, I have provided you with this guide – it tells you to which concepts you should pay special attention when you complete your reading for homework. Many of these concepts will turn up on your reading quizzes, and reading quizzes/homework assignments are a significant portion of your course grade (25%). Use this guide for assistance.
INTRODUCTION:
Make sure that you pay attention to

  1. Where western philosophy began

  2. The difference between MYTHOS and LOGOS

  3. Why western philosophy likely began where it did (multiple reasons)

  4. The differences between science and philosophy

  5. The similarities between science and philosophy

CHAPTER ONE: The Pre-Socratic Philosophers




  1. Thales

    1. basic beliefs – of what did he say the universe was made, and why?

    2. Why was what he did so important?

    3. The reading adds three of Thales’ ideas that the author doesn’t think are very good ideas. What are they, and why does the author consider them not very good ideas?

  2. Anaximander

    1. Basic beliefs – of what did he say the universe was made, and why?

  3. Anaximenes

    1. Basic beliefs – of what did he say the universe was made, and why?

    2. Why were Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes called the Milesians?

  4. Pythagoras

    1. Basic beliefs – of what did he say the universe was made, and why?

    2. What is numerology?

  5. Heraclitus

    1. Basic beliefs – of what did he say the universe was made, and why?

    2. Of course, he didn’t REALLY mean that the universe was made of this “stuff” – what did he really mean?

    3. What did Heraclitus mean when he said that one can’t “step in the same river twice”?

    4. Why was Heraclitus called the Dark One?

    5. How is Heraclitus’ philosophy related to Christian doctrine?

  6. Parmenides

    1. Basic beliefs – of what did he say that the universe was made, and why?

    2. How did Parmenides’ belief lead to the (obviously incorrect)conclusion that motion must be impossible?

  7. Zeno

    1. What are the two famous paradoxes of Zeno explained in your book? How does each lead to the conclusion that motion really is impossible?

    2. What effect did Parmenides/Zeno have on monism? How did their conclusions lead to this effect?

    3. Explain “reductio ad absurdum”

  8. Empedocles

    1. What is the difference between pluralism and monism

    2. Of what things did Empedocles say the universe was made?

    3. How do Love and Strife act upon these things?

  9. Anaxagoras

    1. Of what things did Anaxagoras say the universe was made?

    2. What is “nous”?

    3. What is a deux ex machina?

  10. Leucippus and Democritus

    1. Of what things did Leucippus and Democritus say the universe was made?

  11. Conclusion of chapter

    1. What is the legacy of the pre-Socratics? In other words, what did they give us in modern times?

    2. What is ontology?

CHAPTER TWO: The Athenian Period



  1. The Sophists

    1. What was the difference between what the pre-Socratics undertook and what the Sophists did with philosophy?

    2. How could what the Sophists did be said to devalue what the Monists did?

    3. What positive effects did the Sophists have?

  2. Socrates

    1. What are the three parts of a Socratic dialogue?

    2. According to Socrates, how should we best live our lives?

    3. Why did Socrates refuse to escape execution?

    4. How can Socrates be said to have rescued philosophy from the Sophists?

    5. How was what Socrates’ philosophy emphasized different than what that of the pre-Socratics emphasized?

  3. Plato

    1. Be able to summarize the Allegory of the Cave and the Simile of the Line and to explain how the two are related.

    2. What is epistemology?

    3. What is ethics?

    4. What is metaphysics?

    5. According to Plato, how should we best live our lives?

    6. What are the three classes in Plato’s Republic?

    7. How does the Republic mirror the individual?

    8. What was Plato’s opinion of art, and why?

  4. Aristotle

    1. With what aspects of Plato’s ontology did Aristotle disagree?

    2. What is the difference between “form” and “matter”? What is a “substance”?

    3. How is the difference between potentiality and actuality?

    4. How can Aristotle’s system be said to be teleological?

    5. What are Aristotle’s “four causes”?

    6. According to Aristotle, how should we best live our lives?

    7. What are the two types of virtue, and what is the difference between them?

    8. What form of government did Aristotle say was best, and why?

    9. Of what forms of government did Aristotle not approve?

    10. What was Aristotle’s opinion of art, and why?

CHAPTER THREE: The Hellenistic and Roman Periods



  1. Epicureanism

    1. Who was the founder of the philosophy Epicureanism?

    2. How did the sheer size of the Roman Empire influence the development of Epicureanism?

    3. How does Epicureanism say we should live (in other words, according to what principle)?

    4. What is the difference between natural desires and vain desires?

    5. What is the difference between necessary and unnecessary desires?

    6. What is hedonism?

  2. Stoicism

    1. How did the sheer size of the Roman Empire influence the development of stoicism?

    2. How does stoicism say we should live (in other words, according to what principle)?

    3. According to stoicism, we should not wish that we could get what we desire. What should we wish for instead?

    4. Under what conditions did the stoics advocate suicide?

  3. Neoplatonism

    1. Neoplatonism is a marriage between philosophy and the beliefs of what religion?

    2. Who was the founder of neoplatonism?

    3. What is “the One”?

    4. How does neoplatonism say we should live?

CHAPTER FOUR: Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy



  1. Saint Augustine

    1. What crucial historical event happened in the year 313 c.e.?

    2. According to Augustine, what is the cause of sin?

    3. How did Augustine “solve” the problem of God’s omniscience and free will (2 ways)?

  2. How did the collapse of the Roman Empire and onset of the Dark Ages affect philosophy?

  3. What was the achievement of the Encyclopediasts?

  4. John Scotus Eriugena

    1. Into what two categories did John Scotus’ ontology divide all reality?

    2. Into which category did John Scotus put God?

  5. Saint Anselm

    1. Make sure you can explain Anselm’s ontological argument for God’s existence.

    2. What wee Gaunilon’s objections to Anselm’s ontological proof?

    3. How did Anselm argue against Gaunilon’s objections?

  6. Averroes

    1. What two types of truth did Averroes say existed?

  7. Maimonides

    1. Which philosopher’s work did Maimonides try to reconcile with Jewish theology?

  8. The problem of faith and reason

    1. What was the question raised by the problem of faith and reason?

    2. What is the doctrine of double truth?

  9. Briefly summarized, what was the problem of the universals?

  10. Saint Thomas Aquinas

    1. Which philosopher’s work did Aquinas try to reconcile with Christian theology?

    2. How did Aquinas “resolve” the problem of the universals?

    3. What, according to Aquinas, is the difference between the philosopher and the theologian?

    4. What is the difference between natural theology and revealed theology?

    5. Which type of theology involves philosophy?

    6. Explain how Aquinas “proved” that God exists.

    7. What is “natural law”?

  11. William of Ocham

    1. What is the principle known as Ochkam’s Razor?

    2. Ockham’s Razor does away with certain theories of causality. Explain which and how Ockham eliminates causes from 1) Aristotle, and from 2) Plato.

    3. Why, according to William of Ockham, must all events in the world be contingent?

CHAPTER FIVE: Continental Rationalism and British Empiricism



  1. Descartes

    1. How did Galileo’s discovery of Jupiter’s moons affect Descartes’ philosophy?

    2. What is “radical doubt”?

    3. Why, according to Descartes’ method of radical doubt, could we not trust our senses with certainty?

    4. Why, according to radical doubt, could math also not be trusted with certainty?

    5. What one certainty could not be eliminated by radical doubt?

    6. Having established this one certainty, how did Descartes deduce that God must exist?

    7. How did God’s existence lead to the conclusion that math could, in fact, be trusted?

    8. Where did Descartes say that the world of the mind and the world of the body meet?

    9. What four innate ideas does Descartes say the mind contains?

  2. Hobbes

    1. What part of Descartes’ philosophy did Hobbes reject?

    2. What were the only things that existed in reality, according to Hobbes?

    3. Why could Hobbes’ philosophy be said to be very pessimistic?

    4. What is the “Leviathan”?

    5. According to Hobbes, what is the condition of human existence in the state of nature?

    6. In Hobbes’ philosophy, what is the “social contract”?

  3. Spinoza

    1. What is rationalism?

    2. According to Spinoza, why must only one substance exist?

    3. What, in Spinoza’s philosophy, is that one substance?

    4. What is pantheism?

    5. Why, according to Spinoza’s philosophy, is the human being no more special than anything else in nature?

  4. Leibniz

    1. What is the principle of identity?

    2. What is the principle of noncontradiction?

    3. What is the principle of sufficient reason?

    4. What is the principle of internal harmony?

    5. What is an analytic proposition? Be prepared to give an example.

    6. What is a synthetic proposition? Be prepared to give an example.

  5. Locke

    1. What is empiricism?

    2. In Locke’s philosophy, what is the difference between a simple idea and a complex idea? Be prepared to give examples.

    3. In Locke’s philosophy, what is the difference between a primary quality and a secondary quality? Be prepared to give examples.

    4. What is representative realism?

    5. What is the difference between Hobbes’ view of the state of nature and Locke’s view of the state of nature?

    6. According to Locke’s philosophy, to how much property am I entitled?

    7. In Locke’s philosophy, what is the difference between a good state, a bad state and an evil state?

  6. Berkeley

    1. What problem did Berkeley find with Locke’s distinction between primary and secondary qualities?

    2. What, according to Berkeley’s philosophy, is the difference between direct perception and indirect perception?

    3. According to Berkeley’s philosophy, what is the function of language?

    4. Why, according to Berkeley’s philosophy, do things not disappear when I can’t sense them?

  7. Hume

    1. Why can’t a priori truths describe reality?

    2. What are the only types of claims that can describe reality?

    3. Into what three categories did Hume break all statements about reality?

    4. Into which category does the statement “God exists” fall? Why?

    5. How did Hume’s philosophy cause a crisis for empiricism?

  8. Kant

    1. What is a synthetic a priori truth? Be prepared to give an example.

    2. What is the faculty of intuition?

    3. What is the faculty of understanding?

    4. Why is mathematics synthetic a priori?

    5. What is the noumenal world? What is the difference between the noumenal world and the phenomenal world?

    6. According to the categorical imperative, how should we decide whether an action is right or wrong?

CHAPTER SIX: Post-Kantian British and Continental Philosophy



  1. Hegel

    1. According to Hegel’s philosophy, what happened when God attempted to think about himself?

    2. How does Hegel’s dialectic work?

    3. Why is the dialectic essentially optimistic?

    4. What famous person did Hegel see as a sign of the end of history?

  2. Schopenhauer

    1. For which earlier philosopher did Schopenhauer have contempt?

    2. What two earlier philosophers did Schopenhauer admire?

    3. What is the difference between Schopenhauer’s version of the noumenal world and Kant’s version?

    4. In Schopenhauer’s philosophy, what is “the will”?

    5. Why, according to Schopenhauer, is suicide not an acceptable way to escape the will?

    6. What solution to the problem of the will did Schopenhauer suggest?

    7. Why could Schopenhauer’s philosophy be called extremely pessimistic?

  3. Kierkegaard

    1. What problem did Kierkegaard find with Hegel’s philosophy?

    2. What, according to Kierkegaard, is the one thing that can’t be thought?

    3. What is the difference, in Kierkegaard’s philosophy, between subjective and objective thought?

    4. What, according to Kierkegaard, is the authentic self?

    5. What is a Knight of Faith?

    6. What Biblical figure did Kierkegaard choose as the model for the Knight of Faith?

  4. Marx

    1. What did Feuerbach recommend that humans do about the ideas of God and the heavenly family? Why?

    2. How did Marx’s view about how to address the problems presented by religion differ from Feuerbach’s?

    3. What did Marx mean by the “alienation of labor”?

    4. What is the difference between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat?

    5. What are some of the internal contradictions of capitalism?

    6. How did Marx suggest the problems of class struggle would eventually be resolved?

  5. Nietzsche

    1. What did Nietzsche mean when he said that there is no original text?

    2. According to Nietzsche, how does language lie?

    3. What is the “ubermensch”?

    4. What is the “will to power”?

    5. Why, according to Nietzsche, must we condemn religion?

    6. What did Nietzsche probably mean when he said that God is dead?

  6. Bentham

    1. What is utilitarianism?

    2. What is hedonism?

    3. According to Bentham, how should we determine whether an act is right or wrong?

    4. What is the calculus of felicity?

  7. Mill

    1. What problem did Mill see with Bentham’s philosophy?

    2. With what solutions did Mill come up to solve the problem he found with Bentham’s philosophy?

    3. What is the doctrine of laissez-faire? How does it apply to personal life? To business?

  8. Frege

    1. What is analytic philosophy?

    2. According to Frege’s analysis of proper names, what are the three elements of meaning in a proper name?

    3. What is “sense”?

CHAPTER SEVEN: Pragmatism, the Analytic Tradition, and the Phenomenological Tradition and Its Aftermath




  1. James

    1. How does pragmatism determine the meaning of a statement?

    2. How does pragmatism determine the truth of a statement?

    3. What is the correspondence theory of truth?

    4. What is the coherence theory of truth?

    5. Which of the two does pragmatism use?

  2. Dewey

    1. How did Darwin’s theories affect Dewey’s philosophy?

    2. According to Dewey, how does intelligence develop?

    3. According to Dewey, what is the relationship between thought and action?

    4. According to Dewey, how should we determine the worth of an action?

  3. Moore

    1. Why was Moore known as the philosopher of common sense?

    2. What, according to Moore, is the main goal of philosophy?

  4. Russell

    1. What did Russell believe should be the relationship between science and philosophy?

    2. What was one of the problems Russell pointed out concerning the question of describing existence?

    3. How would his Theory of Descriptions solve this problem?

  5. Logical Positivism

    1. According to the Logical Positivists, what were the two duties of language?

    2. What was a protocol sentence? What was the point of creating them?

    3. Why did the problem with protocol sentences that led to the creation of confirmation sentences?

    4. Finally, how did Logical Positivism go horribly wrong? In other words, how did it end?

    5. What horrible contradiction is there in the sentence “All propositions are either analytic, synthetic or nonsense”?

  6. Wittgenstein

    1. What was appealing to the Logical Positivists about Wittgenstein’s philosophy?

    2. With what aspects of Wittgenstein’s philosophy did the Logical Positivists disagree?

    3. According to Wittgenstein, what is the meaning of a word?

    4. According to Wittgenstein, how is language like a game?

  7. Quine

    1. How did Quine attack the analytic/synthetic distinction?

    2. How does “contextual definition” work? How does it help avoid philosophical problems?

    3. Explain the “indeterminacy of translation” thesis. How does it work? Be prepared to give an example.

  8. Husserl

    1. What is the world of the natural standpoint?

    2. What is method of phenomenological reduction? How does it work?

    3. How does phenomenology explain time?

  9. Heidegger

    1. What language did Heidegger say is closest to the truth?

    2. How are human beings different than other animals in their attitude toward Being?

    3. When, according to Heidegger, are we our most authentic selves?

    4. What danger do other people present to the authentic person?

    5. How does anxiety help make us authentic?

    6. What political group did Heidegger join (and later resign from)?

  10. Sartre

    1. What did Sartre say is the nature of consciousness?

    2. What did Sartre mean when he said that Being is “absurd”?

    3. What did Sartre say is the nature of the self? What creates the self?

    4. What does it mean to create worlds in “bad faith”?

    5. What makes us condemned to be free, in Sartre’s philosophy?

    6. What, according to Sartre, is hell?


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