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*Write a critical/analytic essay of 900 to 1,200 words answering one of the prompts below.

  1. In Meditation 2, Descartes says one of the things that he knows with certainty is he is a thinking thing: “At this time I admit nothing that is not necessarily true. I am therefore precisely nothing but a thinking thing” (Meditations on First Philosophy, p. 65). What does Descartes mean by ‘thinking thing’ and what is his argument that he is a thinking thing? Do you think this argument is a good one? Explain and defend your answer.

  2. Hume rejects the claim that some of our Ideas are innate. Instead, Hume argues all Ideas are derived from experiences of simple Impressions: “when we analyse our thoughts or ideas, however compounded or sublime, we always find, that they resolve themselves into such simple ideas as were copied from a precedent [Impression]” (An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, p. 44). What does Hume mean by ‘simple Impression’ and what implications does Hume’s view have for certain philosophically important Ideas? Do you agree with Hume’s theory of Ideas? Explain and defend your answer.

  3. Immanuel Kant says the main problem of philosophy is “how is it possible to have a priori knowledge of synthetic propositions,” i.e. how synthetic a priori judgments are possible (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, p. 14). What does Kant mean by ‘synthetic a priori judgments’ and what is his argument for the possibility of these judgments? Do you think Kant’s argument is a good one? Explain and defend your answer.

  4. Friedrich Nietzsche argues that all philosophy is mere self-serving vanity on the part of historical philosophers: every great philosophy has been but “a type of involuntary and unself-conscious memoir” and “always creates the world according to its own image, [since] it cannot do otherwise” (Beyond Good and Evil, pp. 8-11). What does Nietzsche think philosophers are doing when constructing their theories, and what is his argument for why this is all they can be doing? Do you agree with Nietzsche that philosophers are not doing what they think they are doing? Explain and defend your answer.


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