Phil 100, Lecture 1A, Introduction to Philosophy
Midterm Exam (Take-home)
Due Thursday, October 25 in your discussion section
Please answer the following questions in essay format. You should aim to
make each essay about three-fourths explanation of the text(s) and the rest
a statement and defense of your own views. If you have any questions about
the exam, please let us know.
Part I. (Everyone must answer this question.)
One essay, around 2-3 pages. (50% of exam grade)
Compare, contrast and evaluate the attitudes of Descartes and Berkeley
on skepticism with regard to the senses. Your essay should address such
Part II. Choose two (and only two) of the following questions.
- their respective overall attitudes towards skepticism about the senses
and its place within their general philosophical outlooks
- their respective views about whether or not it is possible to doubt
the reality of the things we perceive and what reasons we may have for doing
- their respective views about whether and how skeptical doubts regarding
the trustworthiness of our senses can be overcome and/or avoided
- their respective views about what the reality of the objects of perception
consists in, and what our knowledge (if we have any) of their reality depends
- your own assessment as to whether or not the two philosophers' attitudes
and responses towards skeptical doubt are reasonable and philosophically
satisfying, and your reasons for that assessment
Two essays, around 1 page each. (each is 25% of exam grade)
A.) Explain both the argument given by Descartes and the rather different
argument given by Berkeley for the existence of God. Explain what problems
have been or could be identified with the arguments. In the end, do you think
that either of these arguments—or slight modifications of them—succeeds
in demonstrating that God exists? (Note: we are not asking you whether or
not you believe in God. We are only asking whether or not you think these
particular arguments are conclusive.)
B.) Compare, contrast and evaluate Descartes and Berkeley on the mind/body
problem. What substances do the two thinkers respectively believe make up
a person? For each one, what is the relationship between the "mind" or "soul"
and the "body" (especially the brain)? Do you agree with either Descartes
or Berkeley as to what makes up a person? If so, whom do you agree with and
why? If not, why not? Explain and argue for your answer.
C.) Pick any three objections raised against immaterialism by Hylas in Berkeley's
third dialogue. For each, explain the objection as well as the response given
by Philonous. For each, do you think that Philonous's response is adequate?
Why or why not?
Return to course