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Essays

     
  ESSAY ASSIGNMENTS  
WRITING
AIDS
  For assistance in writing essays, see Writing an Effective Essay and Avoiding Plagiarism.
ESSAY I   PLATO'S "ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE"

After reading excerpts from Plato's Allegory of the Cave, imagine that you are walking through the woods on a crisp Autumn day and discover a cave that you did not know existed. When you enter the cave, you observe that it is the same cave that Plato talked about in his Republic. Describe in your own words what you see and explain the difference between the shadows and the ideal forms. Does the existence of these ideal forms provide the basis for absolute values? According to Plato, how do men and women acquire knowledge of absolute truth, justice, virtue, etc.? Was Plato right about the existence of this so-called "World of Ideas?"

ESSAY II   AUGUSTINE'S CITY OF GOD

After reading excerpts from Augustine’s City of God, write the dialogue for a talk show on which Plato and Augustine are guests.  Compare their ideas about the "World of Ideas" and the "City of God."  Indicate where each of these places is located, describe the characteristics of each, and explain the difference between earthly peace and heavenly peace.  Would Augustine feel at home in Plato's "World of Ideas?" Would Plato be comfortable in Augustine's "City of God?"  Explain.

ESSAY III   ABELARD'S "THE STORY OF MY MISFORTUNES"

After reading excerpts from Peter Abelard’s “The Story of My Misfortunes," write an essay describing the limitations which were placed on people, living during the Middle Ages, who aspired to use reason, to seek knowledge, and to become well-educated.

ESSAY IV   della Mirandola's "Oration on the Dignity of Man" and Machiavelli's The Prince

After reading excerpts from Pico della Mirandola's "Oration on the Dignity of Man" and Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince, write an essay describing Renaissance humanism and contrasting the two men's views of human nature.  If both men are classified by historians as humanists, what conclusions can you draw about the nature of humanism during the Renaissance period?

     
     

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Last modified: October 31, 1999