Contact Courses Professional Study Aids Glossaries Key Links Purpose      


Exam date: 5/8/03



A. New Course Material
(approximately 50%)

1. René Descartes

An architect of the modern age
Epistemology in general: nature, scope, and justification of knowledge
Descartes’ epistemology: rationalism, foundationalism, subjectivity, autonomy
Founder of modern philosophy: break with Scholasticism, mechanistic model of explanation reflective turn, autonomy/heteronomy distinction, autonomy in modern cultural spheres, and epistemological emphasis
Scholasticism: Medieval synthesis of Aristotle and Christianity, teleological model of explanation, epistemological status of faith and reason, autonomy/heteronomy distinction
Radical foundationalism: levels and types of reasoning
Pyrrhonian skepticism: suspension (epochê) of belief, equipollence of evidence, and serenity (ataraxia)
Cartesian certainty: beyond doubt, indubitable, cogito ergo sum

Meditations on First Philosophy:
First philosophy, meditation: general traits

Preconceived opinions (praejudicia): sources: tradition and experience, epistemological significance
Cartesian doubt: methodic, hyperbolic, stages, systematic procedure, devices, objects, result
Cogito ergo sum: thought, certainty of self-consciousness, performance/inference distinction, temporal qualification, performative implication, criticism

ataraxia (Gr.): serene, imperturbable, tranquil state of mind
cogito ergo sum (L): I am thinking, therefore I am
epochê (Gr): cessation or stoppage; withholding or suspension of judgment
mathêsis universalis (L): universal knowledge, discipline, or learning
philosophia prima (L): first philosophy
praejudicia (L): preconceived opinion, prejudice

B. Prior Course Material (approximately 50%)

1. The Historical Origin of Western Philosophy: From Mythos to Logos
Matrix: generative context, framework, or soil from which something originates
Mythos: story, tale, fable, account, or legend
Logos: language, articulated speech, account, reason, explanatory principle, intelligible law
Mythical worldview: general characteristics (10); Homer and Hesiod; anthropomorphism; analogical reasoning, human action model of explanation, survival value of myth, etc.

The Greek Philosophical Revolution: Thales of Miletus (624-546 BC):
Archê: origin, beginning, first principle, primary element
Physis: nature interpreted as an impersonal, dynamic process accessible by rational methods of inquiry (Greek: historia).
Naturalistic-causal explanatory model (e.g., Thales’ “all is water”)
Speculative metaphysics: reality/appearance, permanence/change, being/becoming, or one/many distinction; theoretical reduction of multiple appearances to the unity of an underlying primary element (archê), cosmology, metaphysical monism.
Metaphysical positions: monism, dualism, pluralism

Xenophanes of Colophon: Critic of the Mythic Gods (c. 565-c.470 BCE)

  • Applied critical tools and consequences of philosophical revolution to the mythical gods
  • Polytheistic gods interpreted as anthropomorphic, idealized projections
  • Philosophical movement toward monotheism or mystical monism
  • Mythic gods interpreted as immoral
  • Philosophical theology and ethics

2. The Sophists
New stage in Greek education: commercialization, rhetoric, pragmatic values
Anthropological, ethical focus on human affairs
Epistemological and moral relativism, skepticism
Convention (nomos)/nature (physis) distinction

3. Socrates
Philosophical practice and confusion with Sophists
Anthropological, ethical focus of philosophical inquiry

Socrates’ divine mission:

  • Proclamation of the Delphic oracle: Socrates is wisest among men
  • Cross-examination (Greek: elenchus) of “the wise”: politicians, poets, and artisans
  • Wisdom/ignorance distinction and relationship
  • Socratic midwifery and enlightenment (awareness of ignorance, “Know thyself”)

Socratic Method
Historical testimony on Socratic method: Aristotle, Mill, and Schopenhauer
General traits of Socratic definition: 

  • Dialectic
  • Irony and ignorance
  • Cross-examination (elenchus) as method of enlightenment (awareness of ignorance)
  • Methodical correspondence between Socratic irony and the interlocutor’s intellectual arrogance
  • Confusion with Sophists
  • Maieutic: intellectual midwifery (i.e., assisting in the intellectual birth of his interlocutors through dialectical cross-examination (elenchus)

Logical Requirements and Characteristics of Socratic Definition:

  • Conceptual, general, formal, or universal (i.e., not a particular example, instance, or case)
  • Principle of self-identity and the logical exclusion of opposites
  • Essentiality = real, independent, objective, essential common characteristic (eidos)
  • Distinction between real/nominal types of definitions
  • Relation to the general Greek philosophical problem of the One and the Many
  • Aims of Socratic definition: theoretical (definition of essence), practical (standard for judgment)
  • Inductive reasoning (epagōgē): searching for the universal concept on the basis of particular instances

Euthyphro (the dialogue):

  • Model definitional dialogue: What is X?
  • Aporetic: without resolution; no satisfactory definition (Greek = aporia)
  • First three (3) definitions of piety: violation of logical requirements, dialectical correction of definitions
  • Third definition: relation between the gods’ love and piety: issue of cause or effect, essential character or secondary quality, metaphysical independence or dependence, arbitrary authority or rational justification

Euthyphro (the character in the dialogue of the same name):

  • Self-deluded and arrogant expert on the gods, myth, and piety
  • Represents the mythical mindset: authoritarianism, literalism, traditionalism, conservatism

1. 10 T/F questions (15 points)
2. 30 Multiple choice questions (45 points)
3. 6 Short answer questions (24 points)
4. 2 Essay questions (16 points)
5. Extra credit?