Philosophy 305A: Modern Metaphysics and Epistemology

Paper #1, Professor Youpa
Upload the final draft of your paper to the dropbox at our D2L course website no later than 5pm
on Friday, October 7. A late paper automatically loses 10 points and loses an additional 10
points each day it is late after 5pm on the 7h
.
Write an essay answering ALL of the questions below. Be sure to give a clear and direct answer
to each question. Your paper should be a minimum of three typewritten pages in length. It must
be double-spaced, with one-inch margins, in 12 point Times or Times New Roman font. Do not
plagiarize, and by plagiarize I mean represent the work of another as one?s own. Be sure to put
lecture notes in your own words. Give a parenthetical citation of any source of information that
you use to help write your essay, including our course books, like so: (Meditations, p. 17). Your
grade on this paper is worth 20% of your total course grade.
In the “Fourth Meditation” Descartes writes, “It is only the will, or freedom of choice, which I
experience within me to be so great that the idea of any greater faculty is beyond my grasp; so
much so that it is above all in virtue of the will that I understand myself to bear in some way the
image and likeness of God” (p. 40).
1. What is Descartes saying in this passage? What, according to Descartes, is the will? Explain.
What, according to Descartes, is the intellect? Explain. In what way does the will serve as the
basis for Descartes’s view that he bears some likeness to God? Explain in your own words.
In Part 2 of the Ethics Spinoza writes, “In the mind there is no absolute, or free, will. The mind
is determined to this or that volition by a cause, which is likewise determined by another cause,
and this again by another, and so ad infinitum” (p. 95, 2p48).
2. What is Spinoza saying in this passage? What, according to Spinoza, is the will? Explain.
Also, explain in your own words what he means when he says that the mind is “determined to
this or that volition by a cause, which is likewise determined by another cause, and this again by
another, and so ad infinitum.”
3. According to Spinoza, the model of human nature is the free human (see pages 192-195, 4p67-
4p73). How does Spinoza reconcile his view of freedom of the will with his view of the free
human as the model of human nature? Explain.
4. Discuss the strengths and (or) weaknesses of Descartes’s and Spinoza’s view on the freedom of
the will. Of the two views, which view is the most reasonable? Be sure to give reasons to
support your position.

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