So far, in this semester, we have been grappling with questions of human nature–questions about who we are and the way in which various answers to these questions affect our lives. Specifically, we have traversed through three main questions: (1) Do we have an enduring self or soul? (2) To what extent do our bodies determine who we are? (3) Are we free? In order to face these questions head on, we have travelled through time and across the globe to learn from various philosophers. We’ve sat with Nagasena, dialogued with Plato, and heard the call of Zarathustra. Now, it is your turn to join the conversation.
For this first essay, you will write a 3-5 page paper (double spaced) that addresses these three questions. I want you to avoid simply stating the questions and responding to them. Instead, write about who we are and what our nature is, in light of these three questions. You will need to decide how to best present the issues, which examples or counterexamples you wish to use, and what you want the reader to believe by the end of your essay. I want you to write a paper that aims at convincing your audience of your conclusions.
Essentially, what I mean by this, is that I don’t just want your opinion– I want you to give reasons for your conclusion. I want you to tell me why I should accept your view. Show me why your answer must be the case. Plato doesn’t just tell us he thinks HE HAS a soul. He gives his reasons for WHY we ALL MUST HAVE one. Along similar lines, don’t just say that it’s all opinion and that there are no answers. If it’s all just opinion, then no one will have any reason to read your paper. I want you to take a definitive stance.
In order to strengthen your stance, use examples from thinkers we have covered that agree with you. Additionally, strong papers don’t ignore opposing views, they acknowledge them. For each of the three questions, think about a thinker that opposes your view. Clearly state the opposing view and respond to it from your vantage point.