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Skepticism: Descartes and Zhuangzi

Explain Descartes (I and II meditations only) and Zhuangzi on skepticism.
How does Zhuangzi use skepticism?
Why does Descartes imagine an “evil demon” at the end of Meditation I?
How do the skeptical arguments fit into each philosopher’s larger arguments?
Do you find either use of skepticism valuable? Why or why not?
This essay should be 600-1,000 words. Be sure to provide at least three important quotes in
each answer. Be sure to provide citations for all quotes AND also any references to specific
claims made by an author. Do not waste space retyping the question. MLA format. It is
necessary to read the files I have attached.
Font size 12
Times New Roman


Essay Guidelines


Introduction to Philosophy
Summer 2020
1
Exam Checklist
• This checklist is helpful when first beginning and also finishing the assignment.
• This checklist covers the most important assignment requirements. You should answer
yes to all of the following questions.
• The instructions are explained in more detail in the next two pages.
General Format
➢ Have you written essays on two different problems?
o Did you compare two different philosophers in both of your essays?
o In other words, did you write on a total of four different philosophers in your
exam (2 essays x 2 philosophers = 4 philosophers total)?
o You may write two separate essays on problem 2, if you wrote on the four
different Unit 2 philosophers.
➢ Is each essay 600 – 1000 words in length?
➢ Did you use paragraphs in each of your essays?
➢ Are you using a 12-point font?
o If you’re kind, you will also use Times New Roman font.
➢ Are both essays numbered (matching the problem numbers listed below)?
Exam Content
➢ Did you address all of the circle bullet points (“ • ” and “  ”) listed for each problem?
➢ Do you have at least three important quotes in each of your essays?
o Quote = exact word-for-word re-typing of a passage from the text that is placed
within quotation marks (“ … ”).
o Important quote = a passage that directly helps you answer one of the bullet
points listed in a problem.
➢ Do you have at least one quote from each of philosophers you are discussing?
➢ Did you explain each quote in your own words?
o Don’t assume the reader understands the passage the same way that you do.
o If the meaning of the passage is so obvious that it doesn’t deserve explanation,
then pick a more interesting passage to quote.
➢ Are you using MLA citation format?
o MLA citation format = philosopher’s last name and page number in parentheses
after quote.
o Example MLA citation: “So what treatment do I deserve for being such a
benefactor?” (Plato 33).
o Are the page numbers the same as the course textbook or PDF?
▪ You should only be using either the 7th or 8th editions of the textbook.
▪ If you are using the 7th edition of the course textbook, have you noted
this at the top of your exam?
➢ Re-read your exam when you have finished a complete draft. It makes a huge difference!
Stuff That Doesn’t Matter
➢ Your exams can be single-spaced or double-spaced, whichever you prefer.
➢ You may use “I” in your writing. Just make sure to justify your beliefs.
➢ You do not need a works cited list, since you should only be using the course readings.
Introduction to Philosophy
Summer 2020
2
General Instructions
• Use standard formatting: Times New Roman, 12-point font, regular margin sizes.
• Upload a docx, gdoc, or pdf to Canvas assignment “Mid-Term Exam.”
o You must submit to the exam assignment page. No email submissions are
accepted.
• Two essays. Each essay should be 600 – 1000 words.
Two Short Essays 40 pts each x 2 = 80 pts
Total Value of Exam = 80 pts
Citations
• Each essay should include at least three important quotations.
o Quote = exact word-for-word re-typing of a portion of the course reading, that
is placed with quotation marks (“ … ”).
o Important quote = a quote that directly helps answer one of the listed
questions.
o Parenthetical citations = the name and page number provided in parentheses after
a quote or paraphrase of the text.
▪ There should be citations for every reference to a substantial point made
by an author. But paraphrased citations by themselves do not count as one
of the three minimum quotes.
o You may re-use up to 200 words from one of your previous writing assignments
in this course in each of the exam essays.
• Use standard MLA parenthetical citations
o whenever you quote the text or
o whenever you paraphrase the text.
• Example MLA parenthetical citations
o “This is the quoted passage” (Author’s Last Name ##).
o “So what treatment do I deserve for being such a benefactor?” (Plato 33).
▪ Don’t use the editors’ names in your citations.
Sources
• If there is an outside source that you think would benefit one of the answers, then ask me
about using it BEFORE writing your exam.
• Outside sources are not permitted.
• No Works Cited Page needed (since you should only use our assigned course readings.
Working with Others
• You’re encouraged to discuss the exam with classmates before you have begun writing.
• Once you begin writing your exam, do not discuss the exam with anyone else, though
you may ask/email questions to me. I will provide feedback and address any major
confusions.
Introduction to Philosophy
Summer 2020
3
Essay Questions and Instructions
• Answer two (2) of the following problems.
• Do not write on the same philosopher in both of your essays.
• Each essay should be 600-1,000 words.
• Be sure to provide at least three important quotes in each answer.
• Be sure to provide citations for all quotes AND also any references to specific claims
made by an author.
• Number each essay, but do not waste space retyping the question.
• The problems are outlined in bullet points, but your essays should be in essay form.
Problem 1) Plato (Euthyphro, Apology), Russell, Critchley on the Philosophical Method
• Explain TWO (and only two) of the above philosophers’ understanding and use of the
philosophical method.
• Compare the two philosophic methods and explain at least one important difference
between them.
• Is one of the philosophical methods a more useful guide for you than other? Why or why
not?
➢ Related questions that you might discuss in your essay: Why was Socrates critical
of Euthyphro’s definitions of piety? How does Socrates understand wisdom in the
Apology? According to Critchley, what is the most important characteristic of a
philosopher? What does Russell mean when he says that acquiring knowledge
involves an “enlargement of self”?
➢ Trying to answer all of the related questions would take up too much space. You
should focus on one dialogue for your essay.
[If you do Problem 1, answer all of the round bullet points (“ • ”).]
Problem 2) Anselm, Aquinas, Pascal, and Rowe on God’s existence/non-existence
• Explain TWO (and only two) of the above philosophers’ arguments on God’s existence.
o Be sure to examine important differences between the two arguments you selected.
o Note at least one strength and one weakness of arguments from both philosophers.
• Which argument do you believe is stronger? Why?
o Do you find either of the arguments persuasive? Why or why not?
• Please note you can write on Problem 2 for both of your essays if you write on different
philosophers in the two essays. In other words, you would need to write on all four of the
Unit 2 philosophers, two each in your two essays.
[If you do Problem 2, answer all of the bullet points (“ • ” and “  ”).]
Problem 3) Descartes and Zhuangzi on skepticism
• How does Zhuangzi use skepticism?
• Why does Descartes imagine an “evil demon” at the end of Meditation I?
• How do the skeptical arguments fit into each philosopher’s larger arguments?
• Do you find either use of skepticism valuable? Why or why not?
[If you do Problem 3, answer all of the bullet points (“ • ” and “  ”).]

  

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