PHIL 1030,


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Final Essay Exam

Answer FIVE.  (At least one of your questions must be on Kant.)


  1. Set forth and describe three scenes from The Matrix that illustrate Cartesian themes.
  2. Explain the differences between apriori and aposteriori cognitions and the differences between synthetic and analytic judgments. Give examples of the three kinds of judgment.
  3. How does Descartes explain the occurrence of error in the fourth meditation? Explore a situation from your own life where you failed to “restrain” the will.
  4. Explain why Descartes’s argument for the existence of God in the third meditation is flawed and explain how the alternative reading of the third meditation addresses this issue.
  5. How does Kant explain our ability to make the synthetic apriori judgments of mathematics? What role do the pure forms of intuition play?  Is his account persuasive?
  6. Descartes famously declares “I think, therefore I am”. What is Descartes’ basis for the conclusion that he exists? Is his argument compelling? What does he take himself to be? In so doing, also consider the distinction that he draws between the understanding and the imagination.
  7. What is Descartes’ account of the body? In your exploration, also make sure to discuss his explanation for why it is beneficial for us to experience color, smell, etc. even though these are not veridical.  That is, why is it a good thing to feel pain according to Descartes?
  8. Explain the distinctions Descartes drew between the mind and body. Is this picture helpful or harmful?  Why?
  9. One of the questions put forth by Kant is whether or not metaphysics can be a science. How does Kant answer this question? Do you agree? Why or why not?
  10. Descartes claims that there are “no definitive signs” to distinguish wakefulness from dreaming. Do you believe that it is possible that we are, in fact, living our lives in a dream world?  Why or why not?
  11. Explain how Descartes draws the distinction between “natural impulses” and “the natural light of reason.” Provide an example from your own life that parallels what Descartes has to say about the child’s idea of the sun in contrast to the adult’s idea.
  12. In The Prolegomena, Kant argues that a science of metaphysics must be composed of synthetic apriori judgments. What are his reasons for doing so?  In answering this question, you must explain his distinction between phenomena and noumena.
  13. Kant claims that all human beings impose the same structure upon what is given to us in sensibility. How does this explain our ability to make judgments?  What would happen if each of us organized experience differently?

To answer adequately any of these questions will require at least three typed paragraphs. (A paragraph requires at least four sentences!)  Remember, too, that incorporating short direct quotations into your answers is always helpful.  Please double-space and do not use a font size larger than 12.






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