Plato 1. How does Plato’s Allegory of the Cave represent the main features of his philosophy? Discussion Topic Questions: Socrates 1. How did Socrates go about trying to disprove the Oracle of the god about who was the wisest person in Athens, and what do you think this shows about the nature of wisdom in Socrates’ philosophy? 1. What does it mean to be wise? 2. Have you ever known someone you considered wise? 3. If so, what were they like? 4. If not, why do you think such persons are rare? 5. What are two of Socrates’ several opposing arguments about death not being something that he should fear? 6. Why do you think so many people fear death? 7. Do any of Socrates’ arguments help you think differently about death? Discussion Topic Questions: Descartes and the Mind-Body Problem Note: Descartes searched for an indubitable or undoubtable truth: something we can know with absolute certainty. Something which CANNOT be doubted. 1. Was Descartes successful in his mission? 2. Define and summarize both Cartesian Dualism and the mind-body problem. 3. Do you accept Cartesian Dualism: namely, that we are both a mind and a body? 4. If so, how do you resolve the mind-body problem? 5. If you don’t accept Cartesian Dualism, explain why not. Perhaps you are sympathetic to materialism or idealism. Discussion Topic Questions: John Locke 1. Summarize the distinction between primary and secondary qualities. 2. If John Locke’s representative realism is correct, then how can we know for sure that what appears in our minds is actually found in the external world? 3. How do we know that the world, including the computer that you are typing on, is not simply in our minds? Discussion Topic Question: Brain in a Vat Note: Consider the following thought experiment your brain is floating in a vat full of liquid, and wires connect your brain to a virtual reality machine. Everything you have ever known, felt, and experienced—the chair you are sitting on, the computer you are typing on, your entire body, and all of your memories—is nothing but a series of hallucinations induced in your brain by this machine. 1. Can you know for sure that this thought experiment is not true? 2. If your answer to the above question is yes, explain how you know and does your knowledge come from reason and abstract thought or does it come from experience? 3. If your answer to the above question is no, then answer the following question: is there anything about the world you can know for sure?
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