A Note on the Term Paper

Having completed the videos, reading and writing assignments for the six lessons, you are now required to write a term paper, 10 pages in length, typed, double spaced.

You may choose from a variety of topics and approaches.

You may select a question of interpretation; for example, what does Aquinas mean by abstraction or what is the role of the phantasm in human knowing.

Or you may wish to write a comparative essay, say, on the differences between Descartes and Aquinas over the relationship of soul and body.

Or you may choose a problem or issue, such as, whether the soul is mortal.

In any case, you will have to have to accomplish two things in the composition of the paper. First, you will have to give evidence that you have read and reflected on the relevant texts. (Even if you choose a problem oriented paper, you should weave into your argument germane passages from the texts we have read.) Second, you will have to make an argument and that means you will have to articulate a thesis in your introduction, spell out its parts in the body of the paper, and be careful to consider plausible alternatives and reasonable objections to the position you are advancing. (Even if you are writing an interpretive or comparative essay, the burden of your paper should be to demonstrate that one interpretation is superior to others or to show precisely what is at issue in a comparison of two authors and what we can learn from such a comparison.)

A final note: although you may use secondary sources, both those found in the recommended readings and those you may discover yourself, this is not required. We are more concerned that you have mastered the primary texts and can put them at the service of a philosophical argument.


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