Human Nature (PHIL1005-081), Fall 18: Descartes: “According to Descartes, the body occupies space and is subject to the laws of physical nature, but it has no mental properties. It is the mind or soul that thinks, feels, perceives, and decides…” — Stevenson et al. Thirteen Theories of Human Nature, p.164. Making reference to
Descartes’ First and Second Meditations, outline what the Stevenson et al. mean by this quote and
explain how it relates to Descartes theory of human nature. Then, briefly assess whether you find
Descartes’ theory convincing, giving reasons for your answer.
2. Kant: Kant claims that an action is morally good only if comes from acting from duty. Describe
what Kant means by this, and explain how it relates to his conception of human nature, making
reference to the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, as well as chapter 8 of Thirteen
Theories of Human Nature. Then, briefly assess whether you find his argument convincing or not,
giving reasons for your answer.
3. Marx: Marx and Engels claim that “[m]odern bourgeois society […] is like the sorcerer who is no
longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells.”
Describe what Marx and Engels mean by this and explain how it relates to their ideas of history
and revolution, making reference to the Communist Manifesto, as well as chapter 9 of Thirteen
Theories of Human Nature. Then, briefly assess whether you find Marx and Engels’s account
compelling, giving reasons for your answer.
• Answers due 11:59pm, Monday 10th December 2018, to be submitted in the “Assignments
(Dropbox)” folder: “Essay 1: Medium”
• Answers should be approximately 1250-1400 words (Approx. 5 pages).
• Font Style: 12 point
• Preferred font style: Times New Roman, Arial, or EB Garamond
• Line spacing: 1.5-2.0pt
• Please submit only .DOC (Open Office also permissible) and not .txt, PDF or Mac (Pages)
• For citations, use of either the Chicago Style [Aristotle wrote “one swallow does not make a
] or Harvard Style [(Aristotle, 1998: 103)]
As always, I will be looking to see how well you summarise and paraphrase the issues, so focus on
explicating clearly what you have learned from your readings.
I will be paying particular attention for employment of Analysis, Critique, and Application. Further
information on these can be found in my announcement “Writing Philosophy” posted September 27th
Plagiarism, including copy/pasting sections of the text or not properly citing ideas from texts, will result
in automatic failure and be subject to the sanctions included in Memorial University’s rules on Academic
• As well as using Thirteen Theories of Human Nature, all answers should use at least one
scholarly secondary sources, and provide a bibliography of all works used.
• Scholarly secondary sources may include academic books, peer-reviewed journals (available in
the library or on JStor or ProQuest) and other reputable writings (if you are unsure whether your
source is acceptable or not, please do not hesitate to contact me).
• For using on the Internet, you may quote or cite legitimate academic online resources such as
the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (plato.stanford.edu) or the Internet Encyclopedia of
• A PDF scan of a printed book is considered a book, and must be cited appropriately (incl. year,
place of publication, page no., etc.)
• Wikipedia is not considered an academic resource, and thus cannot be used as a secondary
source. Course notes are also not considered a secondary source.
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