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AS and A Level: Philosophy

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  • Marked by Teachers essays 13
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  1. Assess the claim that religious experiences prove that God exists.

    These tests included sensing a positive change in the room and within the person, whether the person looked at peace or disturbed as the experience and if the experience fits into the teachings of the church. St Teresa of Avilas’ theory presents an open argument to religious experiences proving that God exists. She herself had an religious experience so she is speaking from a person with experience. She believes she was visited by Jesus Christ and her remaining feeling was peace and tranquillity not at all disturbed.

    • Word count: 781
  2. 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
  3. 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
  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. 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
  6. 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
  7. Ethical language is meaningless. Discuss.

    According to cognitivists, moral statements describe the world and everyone can have moral knowledge. They believe ethical statements are about facts and can be proved true or false. For example, if someone says that murder is wrong, then murder has the property of wrongness so this statement would be objectively true or false. Cognitivists hold a moral realist point of view. This means that they believe that moral facts are objective facts and are good and bad independently of us. One cognitive theory of ethics is ethical naturalism; a theory that moral values can be derived from sense experience.

    • Word count: 2322
  8. Explain the argument from religious experience for the existence of God.

    Teresa of Avila where she struggled to fully describe her experience with God. ?O my God, what must a soul be like when it is in this state!? she states. Noetic Quality refers to the fact that religious experiences provide a sense of deeper understanding and knowledge of the divine.

    • Word count: 540
  9. Cosmological Argument Essay RSS03

    St Thomas Aquinas (1224 ? 1274) was a Catholic Priest and one of the most important medieval philosophers and author of many books ? his most famous being the Summa Theologica. In his Summa Theologica Aquinas explained five proofs for the existence of God, the first three of which include; Motion, Cause and Contingency. The first way is the argument from Motion. After studying the work from Greek philosopher Aristotle, Aquinas concluded that an object that is in motion (moves) is put in motion by another object or force.

    • Word count: 724
  10. Analyse Wiles view on miracles

    In other words, if miracles actually happened, God would make them very uncommon in order to ensure that humans did not think that the laws of nature are not strict and absolute laws that are always followed. The second statement is that the pattern of miracles appears strange. By this he means that miracles that the church and people have recorded are too random in nature and in the times that they have happened. If God was to act in the world, he would make his miracles more iconic less random.

    • Word count: 766
  11. Explain the origins and development of the teleological argument

    Design arguments are a posteriori meaning they are derived by reasoning from observed facts. The argument is also synthetic, meaning it requires physical evidence, and it is inductive. An inductive argument is an argument that is intended by the arguer merely to establish or increase the probability of its conclusion. This is because Aquinas was writing primarily to justify the faith of those that are already theists. Aquinas observed the universe and saw that everything in the universe appeared to be working in some sort of order. In particular he noticed that ?natural bodies? ? such as plants - behaved in a regular way.

    • Word count: 874
  12. 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
  13. Explain the difficulties which the problem of evil poses for the religious believer.

    The creator of our universe, says Hume, might have been a god in his dotage. Or perhaps he was `an infant deity' still practising his craft. The suffering of children is a particular stumbling block for believers. It is understandable why sinful adults should suffer, but unless one holds to the doctrine of total depravity children are innocent. The Brothers Karamazov by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky explores this theme. It tells the story of brothers Ivan and Alyosha - Alyosha is a holy young monk, whilst Ivan is a worldly-wise young man returning home from the big city.

    • Word count: 924
  14. Describe the origins and nature of the Ontological argument for the existence of God.

    He starts by defining God as, ?a being than which nothing greater can be conceived.? His argument can be outlined as thus: God is the greatest possible being. If God existed only in the mind and not reality, then we could imagine another great being that exists both in the mind and reality. That would make that being greater than God, which is impossible. Therefore God must exist both in reality and the mind. Anselm claims God is a necessary existence, because he is too great not to exist.

    • Word count: 767
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. With reference to other aspects of human experience, explore the view that suffering is necessary for human development and freedom to be enjoyed.

    He even argues that certain pain can be pleasurable, for example muscle ache after exercise gives is a sense of accomplishment. Moving on to development, suffering can be the catalyst for human progress. When we suffer we develop traits such as empathy and altruism. If we didn?t suffer we could become narrow-minded and self-entitled. For example, the enormous suffering of the first and second world wars spurred many advances such as penicillin and the first computer.

    • Word count: 527
  18. Explain the features and origins of the Cosmological Argument

    The Greek word ?cosmos? was coined by the philosopher Pythagoras to refer to the order of the universe. The actual cosmological argument for the existence of God was first put forward by Plato. For Plato God is timeless, spaceless and unchanging in contrast to this fleeting world. However, the most famous proponent of this argument is Aquinas. He wrote about it in Summa Theologica and three of his Five Ways deal with cosmology: The Unmoved Mover, The Uncaused Causer and Possibility and Necessity.

    • Word count: 977
  19. With reference to the life and work of Martin Buber describe and explain this contribution to Mysticism and religious experience.

    A key extrovertive mystic is Martin Buber. In examining his contribution to religious experience, a good place to start is considering his background. Martin Buber was a mystic who lived from 1878-1965. He was an Austrian Jew and was highly influenced by his grandparents and by his grandfather in particular who was a respected Jewish ?Midrash? writer. He was essentially brought up by his grandparents after the break-up of his parent?s marriage and Buber was included and encouraged to engage in discussion with the dinner guests, mostly on theological and philosophical issues. Buber?s early philosophical ideas were heavily influenced by Kant, Neitzche and later those of Kierkegaard.

    • Word count: 958
  20. Explain the main challenges to the arguments for the existence of God

    Our world is not like a machine at all since it is composed of vegetables and animals. It is more organic than it is mechanical. Hume also pointed out that intelligence is not the only governing principle behind the world, there are others such as: generation, vegetation, and gravity. So why should one of these not be the dominant principle? Indeed why should different principles not rule over their own natural domains: vegetation in plants, generation in animals, gravity in the movement of the planets?

    • Word count: 785
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. Utilitarianism practice paper essay plan.

    In order to work out how to gain the most amount of pleasure and the least amount of pain, Bentham created the felicific calculus. Some of the principles of the felicific calculus are duration, purity, extent, fecundity and propinquity. Duration is how long the pleasure or pain lasts, purity is how much pleasure without pain there is, extent is how far it reaches, fecundity is how far it goes into the future and propinquity is the remoteness of the pain or pleasure.

    • Word count: 895
  24. With reference to other aspects of human experience explore the claim that atheism is without foundation. Justify your answer

    The main problem facing the atheist is that his position can never be proved. Atheism is a negative, existential assertion: something does not exist, whereas theism is a positive assertion: something does exist. It is possible to prove that something exists by demonstrating proof, however it is impossible to find demonstrative proof that something does not exist. For example, an atheist will assert that God does not exist. However, to have concrete proof of this claim the atheist would have had to have existed at all times and in all places to verify that God is nowhere to be found.

    • Word count: 535

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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