Introduction to Philosophy Exam Reviews

Midterm Exam Review

The exam consists of 26 Multiple Choice questions and 4 short answer questions (26 x 2 points each & 4 x 12 points each for 100 points total).  For the multiple choice, study the lecture notes using the topic summaries below as a guide.  For the short answers, pick 4 central concepts from the list at the end of the topic summaries and write a half page explaining the idea and showing that you understand it and how it connects to other material we have studied in the class.

Shamanism: “One who knows”, common world culture of early tribal society, forms that appear in world religions, ecstatic experience as ‘standing outside’, initiation rites and ‘rebirth’, investigating problems and seeking visions of solutions, the All-Tree, the problem of the One and the Many, the problem of destiny after death, stories as transmission of knowledge

akhenaten EgyptCity State Priests & Egypt: Societies gather into larger societies and settle, authorities become traditional, specialization of experts and scholars, eternal stars of fire as order above, water as chaos below, air as ordering breath or communication, Egyptian wisdom texts show criticism of society and human behaviors, heart centered individual, warring state periods good for thought, polytheism to monotheism to abstract solar monotheism

Hinduism, Jainism & Buddhism: Three paths of worship (Bhakti devotion, Raja asceticism, Jnana scholarship), trinity of Brahma, Vishnu (salvation) and Shiva (destruction), multitude of gods who are yet are not these three, two types of afterlife (reincarnation and release of Nirvana), Vedas as multiple origin stories, Upanishads as philosophical ‘that is you’ inner meaning,  Jain influence on Buddhism and Hinduism, Mahavira and the Tirthankaras, two principles of skepticism (non-one-endedness and postulation), practice of asceticism and austerities (fasting, postures, meditation), Jain all karma as negative and total release as joining the order of the cosmos, the Jain metaphor of the leaky boat (plugging and bailing), Buddhism concepts of Impermanence, Doctrine of the Mean, Codependent Arising

Heraclitus: All is One/Fire/Cosmic Mind, all particular things are impermanent (even gods/planets), experts do not know much more than the common people, we are all apes to the gods, can’t step in the same river twice, perspective changing how things are

Plato: Parmenides over Heraclitus, Forms/Ideas as eternal models of things, the three parts of the soul (appetite, spirit and reason) corresponding to the three classes of the city (workers, police and philosophers), allegory of the cave


Confucianism: Mandate of Heaven as abstract monotheism, social order and rites as strength of society, study and civil service over meditation and nature of Daoism, criticism of the individual and equating others with oneself, right mind/intention over right body/action, love as center of human and system, recognition of the lowest as oneself and self criticism, Neo-Confucianism as blend with Daoism and Buddhism

File:Laozi 002.jpg

Daoism: Return to nature and stillness, seeing both sides, Yin-Yang symbol, influence on Chinese Buddhism and Zen, the great One/Way as nameless above all named 10,000 things, water-like in fluidity and getting everywhere, the wheel as both solid and empty together, Zhuangzi and perspective, Cook Ting, humans ugly to minnows and deer, Peng bird vs. dove and cicada

Short Answer Topics:

The Jain metaphor of the Leaky Boat

Jain negative view of karma vs. the Buddha’s middle way

Buddhist Codependent Arising

Heraclitus and Zhuangzi on animals and perspective

Heraclitus and the river ‘never twice’

Plato’s assent out of the cave

Plato’s three parts of the soul and city

Confucius’ right intention over right act

Laozi’s wheel as both solid and empty

Confucian study in the city vs. Daoist meditation in nature

Absolute truth vs. relative truth




Final Exam Review

The exam will cover the material from the second half of the course, consisting of 20 multiple choice questions (2 points each), and four half page short answer questions explaining a key concept we covered and showing that you understand it and how it connects to other material we have studied in the class.

AvicennaIslam:  Rise of Islam, systems of scholarship, technology, crypt-analysis (pulling out the essential factors), Avicenna’s Floating Man thought experiment (and Descartes’ Demon)

DescartesDescartes:  Deceiving demon, proof of self-consciousness, trustworthy world and rational facts (2 + 3 = 5), dualism of mind and body, animals as machines

HumeHume: 2 types of perceptions, impressions & ideas, 2nd always come from 1st, billiard balls and causation as an idea, prejudice, assumption, association, events consistent with belief

HegelKant & Hegel: Historical explanation & dialectic (positive, negative, synthesis as the next positive), three stages of history, master-slave dialectic, dogmatism vs. skepticism in the mind and in history, being & non-being as becoming

Nietzsche 1882Schopenhauer & Nietzsche: German pessimism, turn from reason to will, Dionysian vs. Apollonian, opposites work together, truth with false, reason with emotion, truth as seduction, falsehood necessary to life and creation, language, grammar and logic as deceptive, creative individuality, stand between morality and nihilism, Zarathustra as first dualist and beyond dualism

foucault and sartreHeidegger, Sartre & Foucault: Existentialism, (H) time as horizon of being/meaning, authenticity as accepting becoming, closed understanding and death, modernity & the ready-at-hand, (S) waiter in the cafe, criticism of racism, “Hell is other people”, authentic art & literature, (F) institutions & power/knowledge, privileged & marginalized terms, debate with Chomsky about human nature and just society

WittgensteinWittgenstein: Language games & forms of life, logic in the world, not within, against reduction to a single factor (psychoanalysis and the oven), material metaphors for the mental (toolbox, brake lever, train cabin, sign post), ‘one-thread’ is a chord of many, meanings as everyday use, child at the blackboard, game of catch in a field

BaudrillardPostmodernism: Lyotard & the metanarrative of the West, micro-narratives as counter/sub-cultures, Deleuze, repetition & rupture, creating concepts as tools for various use, various cultures of creation, Baudrillard & consumerism, pessimism & nihilism in the face of mass consumption, truth as seduction, the meaningless seduction of the hyperreal, the copy as reality, mass exchange, identity and loss of significance

Short Answer Topics

Descartes’ deceiving Demon

Hume’s billiard table

Hegel’s dialectical stages

Hegel’s master/slave dialectic

Nietzsche’s individual stand

Nietzsche’s Dionysian vs. Apollonian

Nietzsche’s truth as seduction

Heidegger’s authenticity

Sartre’s cafe waiter

Sartre’s “Hell is other people

Foucault’s power/knowledge

Foucault’s debate with Chomsky

Wittgenstein’s oven

Wittgenstein’s blackboard

Wittgenstein’s chord of threads


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