PHIL 302 (Fall 2008)
First Major Paper Assignment

Draft: September 8, 2008

Instructor: Jan Garrett

Due date: Wednesday, October 1, class time. (If your topic is #5, I will accept submissions Monday, October 6, without a late penalty.)

Semester points allocated to this paper: 36 points.

Length: at least 4.0 pages at 300 words per page, not counting in the total any quoted material, endnotes, bibliography, etc. Please supply me with an accurate word count, not including in the word count any quoted material, etc.

Format: double-spaced (except for longer quotes and individual steps of any formally reconstructed arguments), 10-12 point easily read font; paragraphs normally consisting of 7-10 lines.

References and Bibliography: use standard scholarly techniques for endnotes or embedded author-date references and, if needed, bibliography. I should be able to find without difficulty any text or passage you use as evidence for claims about what is in your written sources.

If you consult translations other than those in Voices of Ancient Philosophy (VAP), please supply a corresponding bibliography entry giving translator, publisher, and publication date.

Subject: Explication of a philosopher's, or philosophical school's, position and the reasoning behind it, on a debated philosophical issue (or a couple linked issues). I will also permit a discussion of a debate between two positions.

The topics of the first papers will be limited to Presocratic natural philosophy, (especially atomism); the material already covered in Section 6 of VAP (Protagoras, Callicles, Glaucon); and the Platonic material contained in Sections 2 and 3.

Special Expectations. Papers are expected to do some argument analysis (a real attempt to distinguish conclusions and premises, and where appropriate, intermediate steps). Other things equal, the strongest papers will perform some evaluation of the arguments.

Parts of the texts discussed should be carefully referenced:

title, Stepanus numbers and letters for Plato (when available)
     e.g., Rep. 437b

title, Bekker page, column (a or b) and line number for Aristotle
     (when available), e.g., Rhet. 1378a31-33

title, (ancient) book and chapter numbers for lengthy works by
     other ancient authors (when available), e.g., On Anger 1.2

title and VAP page numbers for ancient authors in VAP when the above
     information is not available, e.g., Nic. Eth., VAP 93.

If you wish to depart somewhat from the topics listed below, please consult with me--it may be allowable. Also, if you let me know what topic you plan to discuss I may be able to suggest additional primary or secondary sources to help you.

Note that it is not permissible to duplicate a paper topic corresponding to a paper you have written or are planning to write for another philosophy course.

Suggested topics:

1. Plato's Republic (esp. the material from Rep. iv and ix, in VAP part 2), as a response to the challenge thrown down by Glaucon (Rep. ii, in VAP part 6). Be sure to discuss how "Socrates" can argue that the condition of the "moral" (in some translations "just") soul is desirable for its own sake.

2. Compare Protagoras' myth in Plato's Protagoras (VAP part 6) with Plato's own view about what is required to be qualified to exercise a governing role in society. Bear in mind that Plato's discussion of knowledge and reality (VAP part 3) is also a discussion of what it would take to be a competent ruler. Introduce considerations from Plato on Reason and Emotion (VAP part 2), as appropriate.

3. Describe the atomist philosophy of Leucippus and Democritus as a version of the philosophy of nature. What is common between atomism and other early philosophies of nature? (Optional: How is atomism influenced by Parmenides? See VAP 227-232) In what ways does atomism differ from other early philosophies of nature? How does it explain coming to be and passing away? Sense-perception? Death? Soul? One possible source: Burnet on Leucippus (and Democritus); for some fragments by themselves see Democritus fragments, esp. those on Knowledge and The Physical World.

4. Plato's discussion, in the Rep. vi, of the Good, the Sun, and the Divided Line (D.L.) along with his Allegory of the Cave in Rep. vii (both in VAP part 3) present the core of his epistemological and metaphysical theory, while the material that precedes them (also in VAP part 3) prepares the way to better understand this discussion. Explain as clearly as you can Plato's views of knowledge, belief, ignorance; how they relate to reality and unreality; what things are most real; what is visible and what is intelligible; the special nature of goodness (The Good); the two main divisions of the D.L., the four subdivisions; the entities that belong to each of the subdivisions; the states of mind that correspond to the subdivisions; how thought differs from knowledge, and how the objects of thought differ from the objects of knowledge. Correlate the subdivisions of the D.L. with the levels in the Cave Allegory.

5. Plato's arguments for the pre-existence and the immortality of the Soul. (We will probably not discuss these topics in class.) These arguments are found in the Phaedo, parts of which are at VAP 235-241. I urge you to read the entire dialogue, at least the directly philosophical parts, because there is an earlier argument for the pre-existence of the soul, and there is a later argument for the survival of the soul after death. (I have four copies of the entire work I would be willing to lend. I am sure the library also has translations of the entire dialogue.)

If you have any questions or need elaboration of this assignment, please ask.

In the notes or embedded references, titles may be abbreviated in an unambiguous way after the first reference to the title. For instance, the first time one refers to Plato's Republic, one should use the complete word "Republic," but after that one can abbreviate it "Rep." The title can be omitted in the embedded references if it is obvious from the context what text one is discussing.