PHIL 401-002 (Spring 2007)
Essay III: Cognitive Science and Philosophy

(First Draft)

Contact Dr. Jan Garrett

Last revised on April 5, 2007

Probable Due Date: Class time, April 26.

Length: 1100 words excluding quoted material; double spaced, word-processed, about one-inch page margins. Please give me a word count, without including quoted material. You may exceed the minimum page length by 2-3 pages if you wish.

Semester Points Assigned: 40

General Description: A paper of at least 1100 words related to what cognitive science has to say about early Greek philosophy (Presocratics, Plato, Aristotle), Descartes, or Kantian morality. If you did not discuss Part II of Philosophy in the Flesh in your previous paper, I shall also allow discussion of the cognitive science of basic philosophical ideas Mind or Morality, provided that they not only present key empirical results of (second-generation) cognitive science but also connect them with their (alleged or real) implications for philosophical questions.

If there are study questions corresponding to the key passages on which you'll be relying and you have not carefully worked through the study questions , you should probably do that before trying to compose your essay.

You may refer to Lakoff and Johnson by page number, using the embedded parenthetic format: e.g., "Lakoff and Johnson say that we rarely think without metaphor (LJ, 59)." You may refer to other works by using the author-date and page method, e.g., (Barnes 1995, 325). Use endnotes and a bibliography if you cite such other sources. If you cite Aristotle directly, use the method indicated for the first paper.


1. Use the index to look up any terms whose meanings are not clear. (Don't forget the partial glossary I have provided on the website.)

2. If writing on a particular philosopher, use the index to help you look up see what LJ say about this philosopher earlier in the book: it could be relevant to understanding the chapter specifically devoted to the philosopher.

3. Those who are doing topics A1-A5 will have a chance to integrate what they have learned from their study of LJ with what they may have learned in other courses about the philosophers being discussed. Critical judgments based on understanding and evidence are encouraged. (LJ make at least one mistake in their account of at least one of the philosophers. So be on your toes.)

Suggested Topics

A. Lakoff and Johnson on a particular philosophy or philosophical movement: Select from among

1. Presocratics (Chapter 16)
2. Plato (be familiar with Chapter 16 as well as 17)
3. Aristotle (be familiar with Chapters 16-18)
4. Descartes (be familiar with Chapters 12 as well as 19)
5. Kant and Morality (be familiar with Chapter 14 as well as 20.)
B. The cognitive science of our ideas of Mind

See chapter 12, especially the issues to which the following study questions refer: 70-82; 84-86; 90-93. Note: This chapter has a number of interesting and provocative things to say about major perspectives in 20th century Anglo-American analytic philosophy.
C. The Lakoff analysis of Morality
Much of this section is a version of what was more fully discussed in Lakoff's book, Moral Politics.

If you find yourself stuck at any point, please ask for guidance. I am here to help.