Ancient Greek Philosophy

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Gover’s Commandments for the Proper Formatting and Writing of Papers


Begin with an introductory paragraph. (However, when you work on the paper, the introductory paragraph is usually best written last, once you have figured out what you want to say. Many famous philosophy texts have introductions which were only written after the philosopher had written the rest of the book.)

Put your thesis statement in the introduction (usually the first paragraph), toward the end of the introduction.

Your thesis statement should take the form, “In this essay I will argue that . . . .”

Use quotes to show, not just tell, your reader what you mean.

Give credit to any and all ideas that are not your own. This includes paraphrasing ideas you have read on the web, in books, in the editorial notes, or in conversation with friends.

Know the difference between its and it’s; loose and lose; affect and effect.

Have a logical sequence to the order of your body paragraphs.

Give each paragraph one main idea. Whenever you move to the next idea, start a new paragraph.

Make sure your citations follow MLA style.

Italicize or Underline all book titles.


Do Not:

Use the phrase "I feel" anywhere in your paper.

Add extra spaces between paragraphs.

Be vague or wishy-washy in your explications or your argument.

Use many long quotes. Quote only what you need.

Never, ever begin or end a paragraph with a quotation!!!

Final Paper on Happiness and the Good Life. 5-6 double-spaced pages. Due December 10, 2009 at 5pm on

Everyone wants to live a happy life, and yet few people actually do so. What is true happiness? Why is it so hard to attain? How can we attain it? Is a happy life a pleasurable one?

In your final essay, you will compare and contrast the views of Aristotle with two of the three philosophical movements that followed: Cynicism, Stoicism, and Epicureanism. The focus of your comparison will be the role of pleasure in a happy life. How do each of these philosophies understand the relation of pleasure to a happy life? How are they similar? How are they different? Which is most compelling and why?

For Aristotle's remarks on pleasure and happiness, please refer to the Nichomachean Ethics.

Use the readings in your course packet on Cynicism (Diogenes), Stoicism (Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius), and Epicureanism (Epicurus). Choose TWO of these three to compare with Aristotle, and against each other. Please be sure that your paper has an argument. This might mean that you will argue that X's understanding of happiness is better than philosophers Y and Z, (and you provide reasons why), or you might argue that all three philosophers overlook some important aspect of happiness and so their theories are all in some way deficient, or you might argue that although philosophers P and Q SEEM to differ on the subject of happiness, in fact they share certain key assumptions which make their positions more similar than it might appear. There are other possible forms that your argument can take, but those are some examples to get you started.

Presocratics Paper. 4 double spaced pages. Due 10/2 at 5pm on

This assignment requires that you give a text-based argument; you should refer to and cite specific Presocratic fragments as evidence for your interpretive claims. You are not required to consult other resources such as books or the internet for additional information about the Presocratics. The point is to use the texts and your own good mind to think and write about the question. If you do choose to use other sources, you MUST cite everything you use.

1). Thales says that water is the first principle; Anaximenes says that it is air; and Heraklitus says that the cosmos is “an ever-living fire” (#74). Offer an interpretation of the meaning of fire in Heraklitus’s philosophy. Is it an underlying substance in the same way that the Milesians appealed to water and air?

2). What does Parmenides claim can be said of the “One’? Why is it indivisible and changeless? Can the way the world is according to mortal belief and the way it actually is (the One) be reconciled? Are they two separate worlds? Why or why not?

3). One scholar has made the observation that “part of western metaphysics can be regarded as a debate between the Parmenidean claim that reality must be changeless and the Heraclitean thesis that reality must be ever-changing.” Are the positions of Parmenides and Heraclitus as diametrically opposed as the quote above implies? Offer an argument for your interpretation.