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AS and A Level: Philosophy

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  • Marked by Teachers essays 13
  1. How do we know what we know, and how do we know that we know it?

    Based on the understandings of assertions and propositions, we can now understand the definition of a belief. Belief is just when you take a propositional attitude of truth. I believe that this is a book, if in reality i think it is a book. And even if I?m wrong, even if it wasn?t a book, if I really thought that it was a book, that would just be my belief. What all this means is that people can have false beliefs.

    • Word count: 1398
  2. Explain the Ontological Argument + Kant's Argument has Finished all Arguments

    It is greater to exist in mind and reality together than in mind alone. Therefore, then God, TWNGCBC, must also exist in mind and reality. Anselm strengthens his argument by giving God the predicate of existence. A predicate is a characteristic or a quality belonging to someone/thing. This means for God to be God, God must have existence because existence is perfect. Anselm has another deductive argument found in the Proslogion 3. In this argument, Anselm is using a negative choice of words where he states that ?God is the being that nothing greater can be thought of.? Anselm linked this to the idea of necessary existence.

    • Word count: 1198
  3. Explain the fundamental ideas of resurrection and immortality of the soul. (18)

    This shows how the mind and body are separate and therefore how it?s possible that when the body dies the mind can live on in the afterlife and is thus immortal. Aquinas agrees with Descartes concept of dualism; however he argues that the soul doesn?t go into the afterlife but rather it goes into a new body which becomes resurrected. For something to be immortal is cannot be broken down thus it can?t be made up of parts. If you were to break a body down you can break it down into body parts, cells and eventually nothing.

    • Word count: 1983
  4. Explain the fundamental ideas of resurrection and immortality of the soul. (18)

    This shows how the mind and body are separate and therefore how it?s possible that when the body dies the mind can live on in the afterlife and is thus immortal. Aquinas agrees with Descartes concept of dualism; however he argues that the soul doesn?t go into the afterlife but rather it goes into a new body which becomes resurrected. For something to be immortal is cannot be broken down thus it can?t be made up of parts. If you were to break a body down you can break it down into body parts, cells and eventually nothing.

    • Word count: 1983
  5. Examine the concepts of immortality of the soul with resurrection of the body - to what extent is one of these a more convincing argument for life after death than the other?

    Monism suggests that the soul and body exist as one entity and must coexist alongside each other even after death. Thomas Aquinas believed that eternal life had to consist of both body and soul for it was the soul that allowed the body to live due to it being the primary source of all physical activities. For example: sensations through our nerves, movement through our muscles and the brain in understanding our mind. This relationship of body and soul was inevitable as Aquinas referred to it as a ?natural union? where one cannot be without the other.

    • Word count: 1548
  6. Give an account of the main types of religious experience.

    In examining the different types of religious experience, a good place to start is prayer. Prayer includes every kind of inward communion or conversation with the power recognised as Divine. This includes adoration of God (praising God), confession, thanksgiving and petition (asking). Prayer in this wide sense is the very essence of religion ? it is prayer which distinguishes the religious phenomenon from other phenomena such as the purely moral. Many religious people claim that through a prayerful life they experience ?coincidences? that make it seem that their life is guided, for example George Muller of Bristol who ran an orphanage and lived by prayer ? his custom was never to run up bills, not

    • Word count: 1012
  7. Explain the issues concerning the origins of natural and moral evil.

    As a punishment they were cast out of the garden to work and suffer, and Satan was condemned. If we accept the doctrine of free will, this account suggests that humans are to blame for their own suffering. Our sinful condition is not what God intended for us, but is the result of our own disobedience. For example, Genesis 6 states that God regrets having made men and if this is taken literally it can imply that he was taken by surprise at what human beings had done. To quote RC Sproul, ?They were good creatures with a free will.

    • Word count: 1001
  8. Give an account of the teachings of materialism and dualism with regard to life after death.

    In his book The Concept of the Mind, he argued that the idea of the soul, which he described as "The ghost in the machine" was ?a category mistake". He argued that dualism causes people to view the soul as something identifiably separate within a person, which he said was an incorrect use of language. He used the analogy of someone watching a cricket game and asking where the team spirit was; it simply doesn?t make sense. Furthermore, a distinction should be made between hard and soft materialism.

    • Word count: 1208
  9. Describe and explain the atheistic rejection of miracles

    The atheist disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods. Therefore it follows that they would reject the idea of divine intervention. Nevertheless, atheists have produced many detailed critiques of theistic miracles. In examining such critiques a good place to start would be the writings of Hume. In An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 1748, David Hume defined a miracle as, ?a transgression of a law of nature by a particular violation of the Deity or by the interposition of some invisible agent.? Hume?s attack on miracles seems to be on the anti-realist view: the breaking into the world or breaking natural laws.

    • Word count: 1013
  10. Examine the key concepts associated with two of the following: Immortality of the soul, rebirth, reincarnation, and resurrection ii.) Discuss the claim that belief in life after death is credible.

    Rebirth is part of a Buddhist teaching that maintains that there is no personal afterlife but instead a constant cycle of rebirth, samsara. There is no permanent concept of the self in Buddhism; there is not a centre of identity based on a separate soul that continues from life to the next, immutable. This consciousness depends for its existence upon the flow of time, thus maintaining that there is a self that is produced by a reaction to events and experiences in the past, present and future, the flow of time.

    • Word count: 1480
  11. Evaluate Aristotles view that the soul is mortal and inseparable from the body, making reference to Plato.

    In the ideal realm our souls encounter perfect archetypes of knowledge, which we promptly forget through the trauma of childbirth, of which the soul has now joined the body. To Plato the coming in and the going out of life, birth and death were extremely important. This was because it was the representation of the soul coming in and leaving the body. Plato?s idea of the soul was that of an ever-presence authority both before and after life. After death Plato was a believer of reincarnation, which in literal terms means to be made flesh.

    • Word count: 1118
  12. Do humans have innate knowledge?

    This can be understand using the analogy of a building. Think of a building and the foundations of which it is built on, if the foundations are damaged or structurally weak then the safety of the building is at risk. This can be compared to a person?s knowledge. The building itself represents a person?s knowledge which is based on the senses as foundations. The only way that the building can be safe is if the foundations are impossible to doubt which Descartes argues they are not.

    • Word count: 1408
  13. Explain Paleys argument for the existence of God (25 Marks) The universe has no purpose (10 Marks)

    In Paley?s case, it was the watch. Paley?s teleological argument aims to show that the universe must have been created for a purpose, for example: the purpose of a seed is to grow into a flower. Therefore, the Teleological Argument based on the design qua regularity and the design qua purpose ideas, suggests that the universe is so complicated that it can't have been created by mistake surely something must have created and designed the universe. Paley argued that the natural world was full of apparent examples of design.

    • Word count: 1125
  14. Discuss the study of Religious Language

    He argued that univocal language couldn?t be used to speak about god, as univocal language is language where a word has exactly the same meaning at all times. When talking about god however, this anthropomorphizes him, as human language cannot be used to describe god as he is beyond human understanding. Aquinas argued ?no name belongs to God in the same sense as it belongs to humans;? Aquinas also argued that we couldn?t use equivocal language to describe God. Equivocal language is language where the same word has different meanings.

    • Word count: 1709
  15. Knowledge of God and/or ourselves can be transformed by religious experience Examine and comment on the importance of this claim for understanding ourselves and/or God with reference to the topic you have investigated.

    He argues that RE are psychological phenomena that occur in the brain but they may have a supernatural element. He argues that RE are emotional reactions, which is directed by God however they are too subjective for those who have not experienced them. He therefore argues that RE gives us knowledge about God and ourselves. As it shows the psychological and emotional aspects of RE in ourselves but they are directed by God which gives us further insight into him. James collected empirical evidence and found 4 common themes of RE. He argued all RE were: Passive, acting upon the person; transient, not sustained but passes; ineffable, beyond description; and noetic, giving a deep knowledge as directed by God.

    • Word count: 1739
  16. Evaluate the claim that the soul is distinct from the body:

    Secondly, is his argument of opposites, this suggests that because we live in a world of opposites (night/day, light/dark, big/small and so on) that there must also be an opposite of death. Then, for there to be a death, there must be something that lives on, so that there is a distinction between the two. Peter Geach rejects Plato's distinction as he questions how the soul is able to have knowledge of the forms when the body gives the soul its sight and senses.

    • Word count: 1560
  17. Outline the key features of The Problem of Evil and two solutions

    The Problem of Evil is an emotive topic and this can influence our response. Historical tragedies, such as the Holocaust, make theists question their religion, as the intensity of suffering is often too strong to cope with. The Augustinian Theodicy offers a solution to The Problem of Evil. Plato influenced St Augustine of Hippo. He argued that evil was not a separate force over and above goodness. Instead he described evil as a privation of good that God did not create. Rather, God gave humankind free will, which allowed people the choice to choose evil. Another part of the theodicy is that natural evil is the loss of order in nature caused by sin.

    • Word count: 1135

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Religious responses to the verification principle have been largely unsuccessful. Evaluate this claim.

    "To conclude, I think there are a few reasonable responses to the verification principle such as the falsification principle, as this does not limit God to our understanding but we can still talk about Him. Also the doctrine of analogy is a strong theory as we can compare one thing to another thing we are familiar with without properly describing the unfamiliar thing and this makes it easier for us to understand. However, symbols can often be misinterpreted and lead to confusion, as they don't say enough about God and religion for people to fully understand."

  • "The design argument is challenged far more by science than by philosophy." Discuss with specific reference to the work of Darwin and Hume.

    "In conclusion, which is actually the bigger challenge science or philosophy? Darwin can't explain the goal of evolution so he doesn't get rid of the idea of the designer. So, in effect Darwin's theory can work in tandem with the Design argument. On the other hand, some say that Hume destroys the Design argument whereas others say that it is just there as evidence for people who already believe. However, should you need proof? All in all, science provides evidence against the argument whereas philosophy only provides ideas and arguments."

  • Compare and Contrast the Philisophical Contributions of Nietzsche and Mill to our understanding of political and social tyranny.

    "Both have similar views on the topic of religion, arguing that no longer should one set of religious truths be imposed on a population. To move forward, to progress, is to explore the world through the exercise of human reason and critical enquiry. For Nietzsche, we must continually question everything, for there is no absolute truth. We have to find our own truth. We do this by being individual, and not following a herd. For Mill, we are rational thinkers, and bases his theory on this view - that we will come to sensible conclusions. Hence, both philosophers advocate maximising negative liberty as a necessary condition for human flourishing. With the freedom to be individual without the barriers or constraints of tyranny, we as a society and as individuals' progress and new ideas are formed. New values are made, replacing old ones. The Elitist vs. the Liberalist approach is where the two philosophers differ in attitudes. Taking into consideration a rejection of negative liberty, this could be used to pave the way for an alternative account. Hollie Mckechnie"

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