Present and reflect on Socrates’s conception of the nature of education as described in The Allegory of the Cave.
This assignment requires the following. First, you are asked to present (that is, explain and summarize) Socrates’s conception of education using the “Allegory of the Cave” text. You should do so as though you were presenting the text to someone who has never taken a course in philosophy. You are NOT asked to critically discuss his theory. (The presentation should take roughly two-thirds of the essay.) Second, you are asked to reflect on what you find valuable or interesting in his conception of education. Some possible starting points: Does this conception of education resonate with your experience as a college student? Does it help you make better sense of what you want to accomplish as a student at FIU?
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Céline Leboeuf Introduction to Philosophy ARGUMENTS IN PHILOSOPHY A. • • What are arguments? An argument is a claim defended with reasons. The claim being defended is called the conclusion. The reasons offered in support of the claim are called the premises. For example: Premise 1: All humans are mortal. Premise 2: Socrates is a human. Conclusion: Socrates is mortal. • • B. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. C. • • D. • *This type of proof is known as a categorical syllogism. Another example: Premise 1: Either Amy won the bet or Bill won the bet. Premise 2: Amy did not win the bet. Conclusion: Bill won the bet. *This type of proof is known as a disjunctive syllogism. Arguments differ from assertions, i.e., statements that are unsupported by other claims. Practice: Argument or non-argument? – Do this on your own first! Roses are red, violets are blue. You are a mammal because you are human and all humans are mammals. If you are in this class then you are an FIU student. You are indeed in this class. Thus you are an FIU student. All we are saying is give peace a chance. Don’t you realize that smoking is bad for your health? Don’t blow-dry your hair in the shower. First, I woke up and took a shower. Then I ate breakfast. Finally, I came to work. The boy likely broke the lamp. The lamp is, after all, now broken on the floor and it wasn’t a moment ago. The boy is the only other person here. And he has a guilty look on his face. You should totally vote for me because I am awesome. You should carry an umbrella today since it’s going to rain and the umbrella will keep you dry. Types of Arguments: Deductive and Inductive Reasoning Deductive Reasoning: Inferences based on premises 1. Sally is five feet tall. 2. Suzy is six feet tall. Conclusion: Suzy is taller than Sally. Inductive Reasoning: Generalizations based on observation I have observed 100 swans, and they are all white. Conclusion: All swans are white. Validity and Soundness Validity: A deductive argument is valid if and only if it takes a form that makes it impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion nevertheless to be false. Otherwise, a deductive argument is invalid. Céline Leboeuf Introduction to Philosophy The following argument is valid: 1. All turtles have five legs. 2. Maggie is a turtle. Conclusion: Maggie has five legs. The following argument is invalid: 1. All snakes are reptiles. 2. Jason is a reptile. Conclusion: Jason is a snake. • Soundness: A deductive argument is sound if and only if it is both valid, AND all its premises are true. (Otherwise, a deductive argument is unsound.) The following argument is valid: 1. All dogs are mammals. 2. Carol is a dog. Conclusion: Carol is a mammal. → This argument is valid and its premises are all true. So, the conclusion is also true. • Summary: Soundness = Validity + True Premises E. Practice Putting Arguments Into Premise-Conclusion Form On a separate piece of paper put these arguments in premise-conclusion form (that is, by identifying and numbering the premises and the conclusion). Then we will share with each other. #1: All numbers ending in 0 or 5 are divisible by 5. The number 65 ends with a 5, so it must be divisible by 5. #2: Worrying about the opinions of strangers is stressful because worrying about things that are out of your control in general is stressful, and, of course, the opinions of strangers are out of your control. (Note: This is from Epictetus – coming soon!) #3: When you’re dead you’re not conscious, and for something to be bad for you, you have to be conscious to experience it. So, death isn’t bad for you. (Note: This is from Epicurus – coming soon!) #4: Either Albert is reading at home, or he went fishing. If he were reading at home, the lights would be on. But the lights are not on. Therefore, he went fishing. #5: Pat is more likely to get an A on their paper than if they had not come. Why? If a student comes to Professor Leboeuf’s office hours with questions about their paper drafts, they receive feedback on it. And if they receive feedback on it, they are more likely to get an A on their paper than if they had not come. Now, Pat is a student who comes to Professor Leboeuf’s office hours with questions about their paper! Although I have already studied at FIU for two years, I have never thought about the question, What does it mean to become educated? In this paper, I present and reflect on Socrates’ answer to this question, as elaborated in Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” After explaining the meaning of the allegory, I will explore why Socrates’ conception of education remains valuable for students today. Céline Leboeuf Introduction to Philosophy Guidelines on Writing Philosophy Papers The Introduction 1. State the question that you plan to address. 2. State your thesis. 3. Preview the stages of your argument. ➢ Tip: Avoid vague beginnings of the sort: “For millennia, humans have asked themselves x.” The Body of the Paper 1. Pay special attention to the first sentences of each paragraph to ensure that your reader understands the purpose of the paragraph. 2. Use signposting to guide your reader. Examples: a) “Having sketched x argument, I now turn to y”; b) “To illustrate this point”; c) “In response to this objection.” The Conclusion 1. Summarize the main points of your argument. 2. Restate your thesis. ➢ Tip: Avoid grandiose endings. Your conclusion isn’t likely to bear on all the problems of philosophy! Further Tips 1. Use first-person pronouns and possessives (“I” and “my”). Examples: a) “I will show x”; b) “My paper aims to criticize x.” 2. Aim for clarity and concision. 3. Use examples! 4. Avoid jargon. Define all technical terms (e.g., “moral virtue”). 5. Avoid overquoting. Your reader wants to hear what you have to say, even when you are commenting on another philosopher’s ideas. 6. Avoid digressions. Ask of each sentence whether it contributes to advancing your argument. 7. Read your essays aloud to identify and rectify awkward passages. (If possible, print them too: that’s another great way to catch errors.) Common Writing Errors 1. How to format the titles of books vs. articles or book chapters. The titles of books are italicized (e.g., The Nicomachean Ethics), while those of articles or book chapters are enclosed in quotation marks (e.g., “The Buddha’s Message”). 2. Sentence fragments are sentences that lack an independent clause (a group of words that has a subject and verb and that can stand on its own). These types of sentences are ungrammatical. o Example of a sentence fragment: ▪ “Meaning that we begin in an unenlightened state.” ▪ Correction: “This quote means that we begin in an unenlightened state.” 3. Run-on sentences occur when two independent clauses are improperly connected. • The following are incorrect: Céline Leboeuf Introduction to Philosophy • • o “Beauvoir criticizes purely biological definitions of woman, she thinks we become women through the mediation of society.” o “Beauvoir criticizes purely biological definitions of woman, therefore, she examines how society mediates one’s becoming a woman.” o “Beauvoir criticizes purely biological definitions of woman she does not deny that biology matters to becoming a woman.” Corrections: o “Beauvoir criticizes purely biological definitions of woman. She thinks we become women through the mediation of society.” o “Beauvoir criticizes purely biological definitions of woman. Therefore, she examines how society mediates one’s becoming a woman.” o “Beauvoir criticizes purely biological definitions of woman, but she does not deny that biology matters to becoming a woman.” For more examples and solutions, please consult: https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/grammar/runonsentences Style 1. Avoid repetitions. o The following is incredibly dull: “Beauvoir states X. She then states Y. These statements signify that gender is socially constructed from sex.” (You have used variations on “states” three times in a row!) o The following is better: “Beauvoir declares X. She then describes an implication of X: Y. Taken together, these statements signify that gender is socially constructed from sex.” 2. Please, please, please use pronouns (“he,” “she,” “it,” “him,” “her,” and so on). o The following sucks: “Simone de Beauvoir wrote The Second Sex. The Second Sex is awesome.” o Better versions: “Simone de Beauvoir wrote The Second Sex. It is an awesome book.” Or: “Simone de Beauvoir wrote The Second Sex, which is an awesome book.” Additional Resources 1. The Pink Guide to Taking Philosophy Classes: http://web.mit.edu/philosophy/guides/pinkguide.pdf 2. Jim Pryor’s Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/guidelines/writing.html 3. Grammarly
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