I. First essay is about a comparison between Descartes’ method and Aristotle’s method for doing philosophy
Descartes view of the human person is dualistic (‘dual’ means two), as was Plato’s. What that means is that man is not one substance, but two substances, a body and a soul. By understanding the body and soul to be united as matter and form, Aristotle andAquinas are able to able to save the substantial unity of man, the unity we all experience (for example, that the one feeling pain is the same one thinking about how to relieve that pain). Part of Descartes’ reason for this erroneous understanding of the human person is that he thinks he can start and do philosophy by completely doubting all material reality, all bodies (including his own body), allimmaterial realities (like a good God), everything except his very own personal thoughts, which he cannot doubt in any way.
Because Descartes’ erroneous understanding of the human person is a consequence of how he thinks he can begin philosophy, I would like you to focus your examination essay on his method, in other words, the “road” that he is following. You know Aristotle’s method or roadto wisdom from reading the Proemium to Wisdom. And in general you know that every road has a beginning and an end. In the Proemium what does Aristotle teach us about the chief beginning of philosophy? What is Descartes claiming to be the beginning of philosophy? It seems that Aristotle points to wonder whereas Descartes points to doubt. In your essay, first give an account of some of thereasons that each gives for what each thinks is the beginning of philosophy? Then, try on your own, without any secondary sources, to determine philosophically the truth of the matter. Which is it? Is it wonder? Is it doubt? Are they both equally the beginning of philosophy? Is only one of them the beginning but the other is useful along the way? Make sure that before you try to determine thetruth of the matter, you have clearly defined wonder and doubt. Don’t worry about getting it right or wrong. I’m looking for serious philosophical argumentation of your position. I want to see that you have really given the matter some careful thought.
II. Another possible essay question, which perhaps requires some more thought:
Descartes thinks he can doubt everything, except that heexists, for if he is in fact doubting, it can only be because he first exists. Cogito ergo sum. This is translated usually as “I think, therefore, I am.” However, has Descartes really doubted everything? Has he really not missed anything? Is this really the only thing he is certain of? Are there really no other assumptions Descartes is making even prior to his “cogito ergo sum?” In otherwords, has Descartes really “razed everything to the ground” like he says at the beginning of the first meditation? How sound or reasonable are the doubts he does bring up? In this essay you are to critically examine Descartes universal doubt. How universal is it really? If you think he has doubted everything, please support your position. If you think he has not, do the same.
Instructions:The essay must be no less than 750 words. It must be double spaced. No need to cite long quotes from Aristotle or Descartes to fill up space. I know the texts almost by heart. Put the idea in your own words. Font size must be 11. If possible, use Calibri Font. No need to put a heading and all that stuff. Your name will do on the first page. That’s all. No secondary sources allowed.On the day of the final please hand me a paper copy, but you must also send me an electronic copy to email@example.com . If I don’t receive the electronic copy, I will not grade the paper copy. This is an opportunity to get extra credit (up to 20 points on your lowest grade) and also to do some serious philosophical thinking.
Philosophy of the Human Person
Descartes or Aristotle?...