Procedure:  This exam consists of two parts:  an essay and a set of short answer questions.  The essay should be word processed.  Put your name and section # on its first page.  Do not put the essay into any sort of folder.  Place the essay along with your 882-E scantron into my Lock Box which is outside my office (Mendocino 3024) or slide them under my office door or hand them in to the Philosophy department secretary (Mendocino 3000) by the due date and time as indicted on the syllabus.  Absolutely no late exams will be accepted. 


Part 1: Answer each part of this question.  Do not include any extraneous information.  Follow the format indicated below for writing philosophy papers.  Otherwise, you will lose 15 points at the outset.  The essay should be about 2 ˝ to 3 pages.  It is worth 70 points. 


In the First Meditation Descartes is carrying out an investigation of all of his prior beliefs to determine which, if any, are not subject to doubt.  Given this undertaking,

1. What is its ultimate aim?  That is, for what long range purpose does Descartes undertake an examination of all of his prior belief? (Use a quote to substantiate your answer.)

2.  What method of investigation does Descartes use for carrying out this project?  That is, how does he propose to examine all of his prior beliefs? (Use a quote to substantiate both parts of Descartes’ method.)

3.   How does Descartes apply this method to sense perception as a foundation for knowledge?  That is, on specifically what three grounds does Descartes call into question the reliability of knowledge based on sense perception? (Give an example to illustrate the first and the second ground on the basis of which Descartes casts doubt on sense perception as a basis of knowledge.  Use a quote to substantiate what you say is Descartes’ third ground.)

4. How plausible is Descartes’ conclusion that we cannot rely on our sense because at any particular time we might be dreaming? Be sure to give a reason to support your opinion. (Note:  This is the only part of the question that calls for your own opinion.  Also note, Descartes does not claim in Meditation 1 that everything we are experiencing might be a dream.  Rather, he claims that any one of our experiences might be a dream.)



Format for Essay:

            1. Open your discussion by restating the question, saying which part of the question you will discuss first, which part second, and so on.  Answer the parts of the question in the order in which they are posed. 

            2. Use quotes from the text to substantiate, illustrate, or amplify what you are saying.  Put in parentheses the page number of the text where the quote can be found.  Be sure to quote accurately. 

            3. Use the first person when you give and defend your opinion in (4) of the question. Use the present tense when explaining what Descartes does.  This is called the historical present, since his philosophy is still considered accurate at this time.  Spell his name correctly.


5. Connect your paragraphs in a logical way, even if that means that you have to say something like “Having discussed x, I will now consider y,” where “x” and “y” stand for parts of the question. 

            5. Close with a paragraph that summarizes your entire discussion.  That is, repeat the parts of the question that you have answered, saying that you have answered each part.

            6.  Use a dictionary to look up words whose meaning or spelling you are unsure of and pay attention to word usage, sentence structure, consistency in verb tenses and subject-predicate agreement.  You will be marked down for poor spelling and grammar in addition to the 15 points for not following the format directions.

            7. Bibliography or footnotes are not required unless you consult outside sources.  Please consult the plagiarism rules on the syllabus because any kind of cheating will earn you an F in the course.