You are at a café with a friend. They ask you why Socrates was executed
and why his ideas were so threatening. Explain why to your friend. Delve
into two famous broader philosophical claims of Socrates and kick around
with your friend what they mean and some possible examples and counterexamples.
Explain where you stand in reaction to Socrates’ ideas.
- In the early hours of the morning you are hanging out at a coffeehouse
with a friend, and the conversation drifts to the topic of what makes life
meaningful for each of you. Your friend doesn’t seem to think that there
is anything meaningful in life, but doesn’t suggest that they have thought
about it very deeply. Equipped with your recent study of the subject, you
can suggest some. Delve into three different views that your textbook
presents—and continue the conversation with your friend about their
possible strengths and weaknesses. Do you side with any of them? Why
or why not?
- You are in a café with a friend. Your friend points to a large photograph
on the wall, and says the guy looks cool. You point out that it is a photo
of Albert Camus. How would you explain to your friend Camus’
approach to the meaning of life? Delve into what you take to be his key
claims about why our human condition is absurd and the possible
responses to absurdity. They ask you: why that title? Take the
conversation to places which both point out possible defenses and
criticisms of Camus’ ideas.
- You are in a café with a friend. Your friend asks you about whether
philosophers can prove God’s existence. Delve into any two different
arguments (or just one if you do it in some depth—i.e argument by
intelligent design, Anselm’s ontological argument or First Mover
argument). (make sure to explain the key elements of the claims being
made). Kick around with your friend the possible weaknesses and
strengths of such arguments.
- Imagine that you are playing a game of cards with a friend and the
subject of conversation takes a curious turn to religion. Your friend does
not believe in God, but understands games and risk-taking very well. So,
you try to explain to her that she is already engaged in a gamble with
regard to her attitude toward God’s existence. Using Pascal’s wager,
how do you explain this to her, and, given her scepticism, what
arguments is she likely to respond with? At the end of the conversation
who do you think likely has the stronger argument and why?
- You are in a café with a friend. They ask you about whether God and
evil can co-exist. You then delve into what you learned from your
philosophy class (make sure to define evil, theodicy and delve into two
arguments defending God). How might your friend still raise challenges
against God. Do you find your friend’s objections convincing or failed
- You are in a chic coffeehouse with a friend. Your friend asks you what
you learned about Marx and why he hates religion so much. Cover what
you take to be the heart of his objections. Would you and your friend
agree with Marx or disagree? Explain why.
- You are in a café with a friend. She asks you about what you are
learning about Marx. Delve into Marx’s theory of alienation and why he
objects to capitalism through and through. What would be the sorts of
strengths and weaknesses of his ideas you and your friend would raise?
- You and your friend are in a café discussing Plato’s famous allegory of
the cave. Recount the plot and key symbols from Plato’s vantage point
and then have a conversation about where you could take this story in
- In a café, you and your friend start discussing Descartes’ trip down
skepticism lane. Explain to your friend the different ways Descartes
began to doubt whether he really knew anything, along with how he got
out of his drowning skeptism. Discuss whether Descartes’ doubts have
any relevance to our own struggles for trying to find knowledge.
- You are in a café with your friend. And you start discussing whether
we can know anything through our powers of human reasoning or
through our senses. You decide to start explaining to your friend some
of the theories you are learning about in your philosophy class. Picking
two (ie. Empiricism, rationalism, Kant’s constructivism), explore with
your friend what can be the strengths and weaknesses of such vantage
- You and your friend start discussing the difficulties of getting a handle
on your own self-identities in a rapidly changing world. This gives you
the opportunity to explain a couple of different perspectives given by
philosophers on self -identity. Delve into the strengths and weaknesses
of the thinkers in question. What would you and your friend want to add
in terms of what is important to self identity and why?
You are in a café with a friend and your friend, coming from the federal
courthouse in Boston, is showing you a picture of the large blank panels
that hang on the walls there. They just don’t “get it.” But you say it is art.
This opens on to a conversation about ‘what counts as art.’ You then
start explaining the divide between Plato and Aristotle that you are
learning about in your philosophy class. Be sure to use your own
examples for fleshing out some of their points. Do you and your friend
side with either thinker? Why or why not?
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