Draft Study Guide for PHIL 302-001
Final Exam (Fall 2008)

Last revised December 3, 2008

Scheduled Final Exam Period: Tuesday, Dec. 9, 8:00 a.m.

Apart from the objective section, this exam is mainly devoted to Aristotelian and Hellenistic Greek and Roman views on reason, emotion, values, moral development, etc. and the texts we have discussed by Boethius and Thomas Aquinas.

I strongly recommend you review the materials available on this website under "High Priority Lectures" and "Dialogues" and handouts that you have received in class.

Points assigned to Final as a Whole: 44, more or less.


1. Aristotle's four causes and Plato's Divided Line.

2. The Stoic understanding of values (where do the Stoics place various positively and negatively valued things--among goods, bad things, indifferent things, preferred things and rejected things?). See Stoic Values Chart or the version of this chart you received in class.

3. The major Hellenistic schools, including the names of their founders and their important adherents.

4. Basic points of similarity and difference between Stoicism and Epicureanism (with a focus on physical theory).

5. The path to wisdom according to Plotinus and Neo-Platonism

6. The differences between Thomas Aquinas and the Averroist philosophers on God, the intelligences, the human soul and mind, and human immortality.


Each essay should be long enough to do justice to the topic, but not excessively long. In most cases 500-600 words should suffice. Do not write on a topic that substantially overlaps with either of your major papers for the course. If you are also taking PHIL 350 this semester, do not write on a topic that substantially overlaps with a major paper or midterm essay you have written in PHIL 350.

A. Choose one from the following options for 30 percent of the final. (Note: I reserve the right to eliminate one of the options.)

1. Briefly describe Aristotle's general view of moral virtue and discuss his treatment of the virtues and vices related to anger against that general background.

2. State the Stoic case against the Aristotelian view of anger and virtue.

3. Plato uses the experience we might call the conflict between temptation and conscience, or temptation and better judgment, to argue for his theory of the soul. The Stoics explain the corresponding phenomenon differently. Explain Plato's argument, the Stoics' reason for offering a different explanation, and what their different explanation is.

4. How does Aristotle describe happiness in formal terms (self-sufficient, unqualifiedly final--explain)? What content does he give this formal definition? Is the good life a capacity, state, or activity? How is it related to virtue? to pleasure, honor, wealth, family, friends, a good political environment, length of life?

5. What is the final and ultimate good for Epicureans? The highest evil? Why do people sometimes seem to seek pain? How do Epicureans explain those who abandon their duties through weakness? Is Epicurean philosophy promote physical self-indulgence and hypersensitivity to pain? What kinds of pain should we especially avoid (and how can philosophy help in this)? What does Epicurus think of death? What is the worst kind of desire, and how do we avoid it? What is the root of life's troubles? Are the virtues to be sought for their own sake? (Explain.)

6. Evaluate the following claim in terms of two of the following "schools": The Peripatos (represented by Aristotle), the Stoics, and the Epicureans.

These schools claimed to be rivals of one another, as if they differed in fundamental ways, but on closer examination their ethical ideas are fundamentally alike: they all have, at least implicitly, a notion of moral development in which philosophy plays an important role, they propose philosophical definitions of the good or happiness, their accounts of happiness are all versions of Plato's notion of harmony within the soul; and they all teach us how to control the emotions and desires.
Don't assume that the claim is completely true. It may be partly true, or true to some extent and partly false.)

B. (30 percent of final) Write an essay addressing issues corresponding to one of the options. The options will consist of three or four of the following. (I reserve the right to eliminate one of the options.)

1. How does Philosophy support her views that God's happiness is perfect? that God is the supreme good? that God is unified to the highest degree? that all things seek God? How does this answer Boethius' question as to the means by which God governs the created universe?

2. Boethius the character claims that evil exists and goes unpunished and that this is "beyond perplexity" because God is omniscient and omnipotent and wills only good. State in some detail two of Philosophy's arguments aimed at refuting Boethius' claims.

3. What is the main puzzle raised by book V of the Consolation. Why is it hard for humans to grasp the nature of divine intelligence? Explain the claim that God's knowing is eternal. Explain also the differences between eternity and perpetuity, between eternity and being in time. The key logical distinction regarding necessity which Philosophy makes in her attempt to solve the main puzzle of book V.

4. Explain Thomas' views on the distinctions and relations between eternal, natural, and human law. Focus on natural and human law. Give details on natural law and human law. How is human law related to virtue? To the common good? What are the basic precepts of the natural law? How do we know the natural law?