Site Network: Intro Home | thinkingshop.com | Media Studies | Non-violence

Reading Notes

Reading philosophical essays is more challenging in that you often have to scan once, read once, and review once before you can adequately explain the author's position. In order to be sure that you are receiving maximum benefit from your time spent studying, try to answer the guide questions posed below. If you cannot answer them, it is time to read or review to be sure you understand the main arguments presented. See more tips here.

Plato, Aristotle, Confucius & Chuang-Tzu

This week we conclude our survey of ancient philosophy. Since the Apology tells us that the unexamined life is not worth living, our next aim is to uncover various writings that describe the good life.  As such we are reading Confucius' Analects, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, and an excerpt from Plato's Republic, entitled, "Does might make right?"

Plato's Myth of the Cave is undoubtedly his most famous passage.  There are three reasons why the work endures and continues to be an popular object of study in most philosophy classes. First, the allegory creates a compelling image of everyday life that speaks to our need to understand human behavior and resistance to change. Second, the cave discusses various levels of awareness and understanding that can be cultivated or destroyed via the educational process. Third, the cave is an indictment against closing one's mind to the possibility of developing new insights through discovery. This last feature of the narrative, the indictment, urges individuals to turn away from images and illusions toward the effort to enrich our understanding by exploring and investigating new territories.  

 

  1. Resources
  2. Guide Questions
  3. Smartboard Notes

Here are some web sites that will enhance your understanding of this week's reading:

Plato's Republic:

Here are some web sites that will enhance your understanding of this week's reading:

On the Eastern Philosophy Front:

 


Guide Questions:

The following questions are designed to fine tune your understanding of the reading. The subject matter and answers to these questions form the basis of what you will be required to know for exams.

Objectives for this week: To finalize our study of the roots of Western philosophy and to begin learning about Eastern philosophy. After completing the assigned readings, reviewing the resources above and attempting the guide questions below, you should be able to:

  1. Describe the key ideas behind Plato's Allegory of the Cave and the Republic in general
  2. compare the imagery of the cave to modern realities
  3. understand the view of education Socrates is promoting
  4. make key links between Aristotle's definition of happiness and our everyday definition
  5. discuss the basic ideas in the essay by Confucius

The Republic:

Guide Questions:

The following questions are designed to fine tune your understanding of the reading. I will check to see if you've completed them; the subject matter and answers to these questions form the basis of what you will be required to know for exams.

Plato: The Myth of the Cave 

  1. The cave is an allegory for everyday reality. Who are the prisoners?
  2. What kinds of activities do the prisoners engage in? How does this compare to our present experiences with popular imagery?
  3. Plato describes the process of the prisoner being liberated from the chains. Is this a voluntary liberation?
  4. Who helps the prisoner make sense of realities both in and outside the cave?
  5. What is the experience of release like for the prisoner? Can he immediately interpret the new images and realities? Why or why not?
  6. Why does the prisoner have to return to the cave? Since we have established that the remaining prisoners will not welcome his return, why should we send this liberated prisoner back?
  7. We have two very different models of education: blank slate information delivery (i.e., the prisoners in the cave who learn the names of the shadows through repetition) and the discovery process in which the prisoner is forced to experience and explore realities outside of his comfort zone. Is one method better than the other? If so, why?
  8. How might the arts benefit from an audience that has been educated through the process of discovery? Do the arts require an active engagement to learn and understand?

cave

Aristotle: The Good Life

  1. Who is a good judge? Why?
  2. Why are the young excluded from the group of good judges?
  3. What part of the soul ought to control appetite?
  4. Describe Aristotle's vision of happiness. Is this the common vision?
  5. Explain the three lifestyles as outlined by Aristotle. How do they correspond to Plato's description of the soul as chariot?
  6. There are three types of ends: instrumental, intrinsic and ultimate. Describe each and give an example of a situation in which we might value each sort of end.
  7. What is the unique function of man?
  8. How is goodness or virtue acquired?
  9. What is the connection between happiness and virtue?
  10. Describe the connection between prosperity and happiness?
  11. Why are animals and children excluded from the class of persons who can achieve ultimate happiness?
  12. If we connect happiness to our material condition, how will we likely react to changes in fortune?

top


Smartboard Notes from Weeks 5 & 6 Lectures:

 

Aristotle

 

top

 

home | guide questions | journal guidelines | syllabus | contact dr. bowser