Past Final Exam Questions, Philosophy 23

A. General Questions

  1. Locke: "Liberty is a power to act or not to act, according as the mind directs" (Essay, Book II, Chapter XXI, Sec. 73). Hume: "By liberty, then, we can only mean a power of acting or not acting, according to the determinations of the will" (Enquiry, Section VIII, Part I). How did these two philosophers arrive at such similar-looking definitions, and how close are they really?
  2. According to Locke, "If we persuade ourselves that our faculties act and inform us right concerning the existence of objects that affect them, it cannot pass for an ill-grounded confidence: for I think nobody can, in earnest, be so sceptical as to be uncertain of the existence of those things which he sees and feels" (105-6). What did he mean by this, and how did Berkeley respond to this claim?
  3. Hume ended the Enquiry with the following passage: "If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance, let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it contains nothing but sophistry and illusion." What was Hume getting at, and how did Kant respond to Hume's challenge?
  4. Show how the various types of consequent skepticism discussed by Hume apply or do not apply to Locke's theory of knowledge.
  5. Locke applied the idea of substance in general to both material and mental things. Clearly discuss his account of this idea and show how it was criticized by Berkeley.
  6. Compare and contrast the conceptions of experience in the theories of knowledge of Hume and Kant.
  7. Fully exposit the arguments for the existence of God and the explanatory role played by the Deity in Berkeley's philosophy. Apply Hume's criticisms of natural theology to Berkeley's position.
  8. Compare and contrast the views of Hume and Kant on the idea (or concept) of a necessary connection.
  9. Compare and contrast the views of Locke and Kant concerning the concept of substance.
  10. Berkeley: "By the principles premised we are not deprived of any one thing in nature. Whatever we see, feel, hear or anywise conceive or understand remains as secure as ever, and is as real as ever" (Principles, Sec. 34). Kant: "I leave to things as we obtain them by the senses their actuality" (Prolegomena, First Part, Remark III). Discuss the apparent agreement and real difference between these two claims.
  11. Locke: "Everyone, upon inquiry into his own thoughts, will find, that he has no other idea of any substance, v.g. let it be gold, horse, iron, man, vitriol, bread, but what he has barely of those sensible qualities, which he supposes to inhere; with a supposition of such a substratum as gives, as it were, a support to those qualities or simple ideas, which he has observed to exist united together" (Essay, Book II, Chapter XXIII, Sec. 6). How did Locke argue for this account of substances, and how did Berkeley's description of "sensible things" differ from it? What did Berkeley take to be the fundamental problem with Locke's supposition of a substratum?
  12. Compare and contrast the views of Hume (Enquiry, Sec. XII, Part II) and Kant (Prolegomena, Secs. 50-52) concerning the infinite divisibility of matter.
  13. Berkeley held that the dynamic relations between things in the sensible world are not causal. Show what he thinks these relations really are and why he thought so. Then show why Kant held that the dynamic relations between sensible things are causal.
  14. Locke: "We find in ourselves a power to begin or forbear, continue or end several actions of our mind . . barely by a thought or preference of the mind ordering, or as it were commanding, the doing or not doing such or such particular action" (Essay, Book II, Chapter XXI, Sec. 5). Explain the importance of this claim for Locke and show how Hume criticized Locke's understanding of this alleged power.
  15. Compare and contrast the views of Locke and Kant on the limitations of human knowledge.
  16. Compare and contrast Berkeley and Hume on divine providence.
  17. Hume claimed that we kave no knowledge of how any object could bring about a change in any other object. What was the basis of Hume's claim, and how does it apply to Berkeley's view that we know that spirits are causes?
  18. Locke maintained a distinction between "primary" and "secondary" qualities of corporeal objects. What was the basis of this distinction, and how did Berkeley argue against its validity?
  19. According to Hume, we cannot know a priori of any causal connection. On the other hand, Kant held that we have a priori knowledge of causality. What was the reasoning behind each view? How much did they differ?

B. Specific Questions

  1. Locke claimed that the idea of power plays a central role in our world-view. How did he describe this idea, and why did he take it to be so important?
  2. What role does God play in Berkeley's philosophy? How did Berkeley distinguish his view from that of Malebranche?
  3. According to Kant, attempts to extend our knowledge beyond the realm of experience are bound to fail. In what specific ways did he think reason transcends experience? What negative and positive conclusions did he draw from them?
  4. Describe the role of the "corpuscularian hypothesis" in Locke's philosophy.
  5. According to Berkeley, things are the way we perceive them to be. What apparent problems does this raise for his philosophy, and how did Berkeley attempt to deal with them?
  6. Show how Hume argued that there cannot be sufficient evidence for the occurrence of a miracle.
  7. Kant claimed that the "ideas of reason" naturally give rise to "transcendental illusion." What are these ideas, to what kinds of misleading judgments to they give rise, and how in general did Kant deal with the ideas?
  8. How did Locke distinguish knowledge from probability? What kinds of things did he say we can know, and what kinds of things did he say we cannot know?
  9. Discuss Berkeley's claim that, rather than turning things into ideas, he turned ideas into things.
  10. Show how Hume applied his analysis of causality to the explanation of human behavior.
  11. What, precisely, did Kant mean when he declared that space is an a priori form of human intuition? What arguments did he advance for this view?
  12. Discuss Locke's distinction between primary and secondary qualities.
  13. Discuss Berkeley's account of general ideas.
  14. Discuss the senses in which Hume was a skeptic.
  15. Discuss Locke's account of identity.
  16. Discuss Berkeley on abstract ideas.
  17. Discuss Hume's account of the justification of testimony concerning miracles.
  18. Discuss Kant's distinction between judgments of perception and judgments of experience.
  19. Expound Locke's doctrine of the nature of substances.
  20. Expound Berkeley's doctrine that the esse (being) of sensible things is percipi (being perceived).
  21. Hume claimed that all ideas are copies of impressions. What consequences did this veiw have for his theory of knowledge and reality?
  22. What was Kant's answer to his own question, "How is pure natural science possible?"

1996-97 Format

Answer one question from each part (equally weighted). The two questions you select must contain the names of three of the philosophers covered in the course.

Part One

  1. Berkeley criticized Locke's doctrine of "abstract general ideas." Describe Locke's view of abstraction as presented in Book II, Chapter XI of the Essay. How did Berkeley understand Locke's view, and what did he think was wrong with it? What alternative did Berkeley offer?
  2. What did Berkeley understand the laws of nature to be? How does his account differ from Hume's? What consequences did their differing views have for the way they treated miracles?
  3. What, according to Hume, is the origin of our idea of a necessary connection? Why did Hume think that the idea could come from nowhere else? What did Kant take to be the origin our representation of a necessary connnection? What did he think was wrong with Hume's account?
  4. Locke argued for a limited skepticism, while Berkeley claimed to have refuted skepticism. Why was Locke skeptical and how did Berkeley attempt to overcome the kind of skepticism put forward by Locke?
  5. Hume claimed that our judgments concerning cause and effect are based entirely upon custom and habit. Show what Hume's argument was and contrast his view of cause and effect with that advanced by Kant.
  6. Contrast the attack on primary qualities made by Berkeley in the early sections of the Principles with the one made by Kant in Remarks II and III of the Prolegomena.

Part Two

  1. What, according to Locke, is the nature of identity? What are the various ways in which Locke's conception of identity applies to human beings?
  2. Locke claimed to have shown that we have no innate ideas. What did he take such ideas to be and how did he try to show that we have none?
  3. Berkeley maintained that we cannot have an idea of a spirit. Why was it important for him to make this claim? What was the potential danger of the claim, and how did Berkeley attempt to get around it?
  4. Berkeley maintained that "the very notion of what is called matter or corporeal substance contains a contradiction in it" (Principles of Human Knowledge, Section 9). What is that conception and what is the contradiction Berkeley thought he had found?
  5. Hume asked the following question: "By what argument can it be proved, that the perceptions of the mind must be caused by external objects, entirely different from them, though resembling them . . . ?" How did he answer this question?
  6. Hume held that in matters of fact, the contrary of any state of affairs is possible. Why did he hold such a view, and what consequences did it have for his account of human knowledge?
  7. Kant asserted that he was the first to make metaphysics into a science. What problem did Kant find with traditional metaphysics, and how did he undertake to solve it?
  8. Kant classified mathematical judgments as being synthetic and known a priori. What did he mean by these classifications and why did he take mathematical judgments to fall into them.

Philosophy 23. History of Philosophy: Eighteenth Century