ontological argument (from the nature of God)
cosmological argument (from processes of change) causal argument (from processes of causation) moral argument (from degrees of goodness) foundationalism hyperbolic doubt solipsism rationalism empiricism empiricism existentialism indirect communication (for Kierkegaard) aesthetic form of life ethical form of life Knight of Faith
teleological argument (from design)
cosmological argument (from processes of change)
causal argument (from processes of causation)
moral argument (from degrees of goodness)
indirect communication (for Kierkegaard)
aesthetic form of life
ethical form of life
Knight of Faith
1. In what ways did the ideas of the Manichees put Augustine on the path toward truth? How did he eventually come to see their errors?
2. How does Augustine explain the presence of evil in the world? How can it be so prevalent in our experience, if it does not exist independently (as a substance)?
3. What is the source of goodness, according to Augustine (see especially VII)?
4. Augustine describes a time when he understood what is the ultimate good, and yet could not accept God’s grace (see especially VII. 1819). What does this indicate about the relationship between mind and heart, between intellect and will?
5. Describe some of the ways in which Augustine’s conversion story (VIII. 12) is similar to other famous conversion stories (such as Paul’s, in Acts 9), and some ways in which it is different.
6. What is time, according to Augustine? Does it exist objectively in the world? (See XI. 1420)
7. How would Anselm reply to someone who said, “I know perfectly well what you mean when you talk about God, and I also know that there isn’t any such being.”
8. Why does Aquinas think that Anselm’s ontological argument is not available to us?
9. What is the relationship between reason and revelation, according to Aquinas? Is one subordinate to the other?
10. How are essence and existence related in created beings, according to Aquinas? What does this imply about the question of whether the world exists by necessity?
11. Summarize the arguments for God’s existence that Aquinas puts forward: the argument from change, from efficient cause, from possibility and necessity, from the goodness of things, and from design in the world. (The test won’t ask you to summarize all five but might ask for, say, two of them.)
12. How does doubt lead Descartes to certainty? What is it about which he cannot be deceived?
13. Why is Descartes called a foundationalist?
14. How does the conviction that God is not a deceiver help Descartes to establish the reality of an external, material world?
15. How does Descartes argue from the idea of God to the actual existence of God, in Meditation III?
16. How does the distinction between understanding and will explain the possibility of error, for Descartes? How can we avoid error?
17. What is essential to us as persons, according to Descartes? Are we physical bodies?
18. Under what categories does an aesthete (in Kierkegaard’s classification) organize his or her life? How does this differ in the ethical mode?
19. Judge William, writing to A, speaks of his “either/or”. What is that? And how does it mark the difference between A’s form of life and the judge’s?
20. What is the judge’s view of the relation between romantic love and marriage?
21. What is despair? What is the condition of a self when despair is completely eradicated?
22. What is characteristic of a system? What would an existential system be? And how does Kierkegaard attack this notion?
23. “Never at any moment in my life have I ‘sought for God,’” writes Simone Weil (p. 22). Why does she say this? What does it imply about the way in which we come to know God and ourselves?
24. Why is Weil so wary of the church and its “dogma,” its theological teachings?
25. In the essay on “school studies”) Weil writes that “the intelligence can only be led by desire.”
26. How is “every school exercise . . . like a sacrament”? (p. 63)
27. In The Little Logic Book, ch. 13, the authors argue that some purposes are appropriate and others are not in making an argument. Explain what they mean; give examples.
28. “Behind the cases where reasoning with others goes off track, there sometimes lies a moral failure that runs deeper than any logical mistake,” the authors write (p. 192). Explain what this failure is.
29. What is the virtue, in arguing, that represents the mean between excess in either direction? What are the excesses on each side? Explain briefly.The virtue is compromise
The remaining questions are review questions covering several writers. You will be asked to
answer one ortwo of these on the exam. What is important in answering these questions is not
to come up with the correct answer – in some cases there really isn’t one – but to explore the
way writers’ ideas relate to each other and to our concerns as we study them.
30. How would Plato, Aristotle and Augustine answer the question that Socrates first posed: what is the best life for a person to live? How do we know that it is the best?
31. In what ways does Kierkegaard’s view of human life, and the choices we make, resemble Augustine’s? In what ways does it differ?
32. Descartes believes we must never act unless we are certain of the principle we are acting on. Kierkegaard, however, believes uncertainty and anxiety are the inevitable conditions of every human choice. Who is right? Or are both partly right?