Copyright © 2015 Bruce W. Hauptli
The following sample questions are examples of the kinds of questions I will be asking. The list is far longer than a reasonable examination could be, and I will ask several such questions on the examination itself. You will be asked to be as complete as you can in writing essays in answer such questions. While there is no "length requirement" for the examination, the questions and exam will be designed so that the average student in this class should need to spend most of the allowed time actively writing. Short answers are unlikely to be sufficiently detailed to earn high grades, and mere outlines or lists (of terms, principles, theories, etc.) do not provide sufficient explanation--they will not convince me that you understand the relevant material. As the questions clearly indicate, I expect you to explain specific points in answering the questions, and an essay which does not address these points is inadequate. The exam will be a closed-book, closed-notes exam, and you will not be allowed to consult dictionaries or other reference texts. Please review the following link on the Course Web-Site for additional guidelines regarding my expectations for exam answers: Writing Essay Exams for Professor Hauptli.
The mid-term exam is in class on Friday, February 27. There will be an in-class review on Wednesday, February 25.
1. What is it one lacks when one can not satisfy Socrates'/Plato's questions like "What is piety" or "What is justice?" Clearly a special sort of answer is sought--knowledge of the forms. What I want you to do is to indicate what is sought (characterize, in general, what he seeks in asking such questions), how he would attain this object, and how much value he attaches to this quest (and why)--could one avoid asking and attempting to answer these questions and yet lead a good life?). In answering this question, make certain you indicate whether the forms change over time, exist in the sensory world, and are subjective. Did we discuss any examples of such forms?
2. Explain why Socrates will not pursue Crito's plan to escape from jail. In answering this question clearly indicate what he believes the harm would be in escaping, and who would be harmed should he decide to escape. Also indicate what it is that Crito seems to value and fear, what Socrates values most, and why the state is important for Plato's Socrates. Provide some indication of why Socrates believes his values here are not merely arbitrary individual preferences.
3. Clarify what Plato's Socrates means, in the Crito by the "expert," and indicate what his argument is as to why we should follow what such "experts" say, rather than what "the many" say. In answering this question, clarify why he is trying to get Crito to see the distinction here, and why it is important to him that Crito get this point. Also indicate whether or not Plato's Socrates believes that "the many" are capable of either great good or harm.
4. Explain what the characteristics of the good state (or individual) are according to Plato. In answering this question explain what he claims the parts of the state (or soul) are, what "virtue" each part should manifest, what the proper relationship of the parts (of the state or soul) is, and clarify what he means by "justice." In your answer you should also clarify “health/illness” argument which he offers to show that justice is more valuable than injustice, and clarify both of the centrally important characteristics which he says his rulers (or philosophers) must have.
5. Clarify what sort of knowledge Plato is seeking by discussing his "divided line" passage and the "metaphor of the cave" in the Republic. I do not expect you to remember either the Greek or English terms for the different "levels" of cognition (or understanding), but I want you to clarify what kind of knowledge or wisdom he wants his rulers to have. What does Plato mean when he says that the forms will not be "between Being and Non-Being?" In answering this question, make certain you also clearly characterize the "Forms" (that is, indicate whether they change over time, exist in the sensory world, and are subjective). Did we discuss any "examples" of forms?
6. Explain the three "proofs" which Plato offers to establish that the "aristocratic" sort of life which he is in favor of is the preferable one.
7. Clarify Plato's answers to what I have called the two fundamental
questions of his Republic. In answering this question, clarify what
each question is and what his core answer is to each question.
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