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Writing Assignment #4

Posted: July 25, 2013 in Uncategorized


Professor Nathifa Greene

Aristotle believes that character is not natural, and that it is developed through habit. Contemporary research suggests that some people are predisposed to develop in ways that are biologically ‘hard wired’ into them. What do you think? Is character natural or unnatural? Use an example to explain your point of view.

Professor David McClean

“What is agency, and how can it be both a useful concept and a weapon?”


Writing Assignment #3

Posted: July 19, 2013 in Uncategorized


This week students read Judith Butler’s “Grieving, Gender, & Violence” and Plato’s Timaeus. In consideration of these readings, they chose one of the following prompts from their seminar classes.

Given what you know now, if you could write a letter to your fifteen year old self what would you say and why? I want to encourage you to write whatever you think would be important for your younger self to know. But in writing your letter, consider Butler’s point that “vulnerability…becomes highly exacerbated under certain social and political conditions, especially those in which violence is a way of life and the means to secure self-defense are limited.” (29)

“What is that which always is and has no becoming; and what is that which is always becoming and never is?”


Below is the two assignments students chose from.

What does Sartre mean, when he says that for human beings “Existence comes before or precedes essence” (20-24)? Do you agree with Sartre’s “existence precedes essence” claim?


Dewey states that “we change character from worse to better only by changing conditions” (20). Consider how social conditions shape one’s character. Provide reasons that explain the ways in which it does OR does not.

Don’t be afraid to Comment.


Posted: July 10, 2013 in Jazzmine Mack, Uncategorized

As Sartre begins to talk about “existence precedes essence” it allows me to go deeper into thought about existence and essence, and what it actually means. The word existence is the fact or state of living or having objective reality. The word essence is the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, which determines its character. Now that we have a better understanding of these words I can further explain the actual meaning of “Existence precedes essence”. The idea that existence precedes essence means that a human being, as well as human reality, exists prior to any concepts of who I am. A person is born a blank slate; there is no universal design common to all of mankind. Since no preformed essence or definition exists of what is means to “be human,” a person must form his/her own conception of essence by asserting control of and responsibility for his/her actions and choices. Consequently, a human being gains his/her essence through individual choices and actions. This is a theory which involves elements of responsibility and freedom in regards to human choice.

I agree with this because I had no control over me being brought into the world, which means no one has control over my destination. Sartre says, “Man is responsible for what he is”. I am responsible for the outcome of my life. There is no one over me to say what it is that I am and am not supposed to do such as a guideline or layout to life. It is much like the saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink it.” I chose if I drink.

Writing Assignment #1

Posted: July 4, 2013 in Uncategorized


During the first week of the Summer Seminar in Philosophy 2013, philosophy students learned how to recognize and evaluate arguments. For their first blog post, students were asked to create a brief argument that stated a goal and provided reasons for why a particular goal is worth pursing. Some students were also able to consider counter-arguments and respond to them. Below are their arguments. Feel free to comment.


Posted: June 17, 2013 in Uncategorized