The writing requirement is post in file, and the rest are readings to help answer the questions. No outside resources needed. Only use the readings that I post.
Here is the writing requirement:
Part 1: Short Answers (4 pts each for 20 pts total)
Instructions: Please answer 5 out of 6 of these questions.Your answers should respond to all aspects of the question and be 5-10 sentences in length. Please include specific examples from the readings to support your analyses. You should use at least one quote.
- What are the three aspects of human existence that Reinhold Niebuhr says come together in a Christian conception of human nature in his book The Nature and Destiny of Man? How do these three aspects reflect Niebuhr’s thoughts on how humans are made in the image of God, how humans are creaturely beings, and how human freedom is tied to sin and evil? Use examples from Genesis to illustrate Niebuhr’s points.
- Why does Seyyed Nasr in The Heart of Islam believe that theories like evolution empty of meaning the concepts of human rights, human dignity, and human purpose? Is there any evidence from Darwin’s The Descent of Man that could be used to refute Nasr’s argument?
- What does Charles Mills mean when he says that the Racial Contract is also an epistemological contract? What agreement is made in this contract? Why does Mills think the epistemological contract is problematic?
- Thomas Hobbes and John Locke both theorize about how the origins of human civilization are the result of a social contract. What view of human nature does Hobbes hold and what is the main reason he believes a social contract must be established? In what ways does Locke’s social contract theory differ from Hobbes’s?
- In “The Problem of Creation”, Deloria argues that “Indian Tribal Religions and Christianity differ considerably on numerous theological points, but a very major distinction that can be made between two types of thinking concerns the idea of creation” (Cordova, 77). For him, one important difference is that Christianity thinks creation in terms of time, whereas Native American Tribal Religions think creation in terms of space. Explain the difference between understanding creation in terms of time vs. in terms of space. Why does Deloria argue that understanding creation in terms of time makes it more likely that a worldview will be dismissive of other creation stories and worldviews? Do you agree with Deloria’s criticism?
- Explain Aristophanes’ theory of love from the Symposium. Drawing on this theory of love, explain what Aristophanes’ thinks the human condition (or human nature) is. Do you agree with his accounts of love and the human condition? Does it challenge another thinker’s theory of human nature from the class?
Part II: Essay Questions (15 pts each for 30 pts total)
Instructions: Answer 2 out of 3 of the following questions. Your answers should be 300-400 words in length. Be sure to include a thesis statement, at least two quotes from a reading, and specific examples from the texts when possible.
- One of the main themes of the class so far has been the importance of storytelling (myths, theories, etc.) in shaping different peoples’ conceptions of human nature. Explain the relationship between myth/theory and worldviews using Viola Cordova’s essay “What is the World?”. Then apply your analysis to any two origin stories from the first unit (Genesis, Sky Woman, Son of Raven, Darwin’s The Descent of Man, Aristophanes’ speech) to show how these stories portray different views of human nature.
- The idea that humans are inherently good, respectful, and just or inherently selfish, violent, and unjust has come up in many of the readings. Choose two authors from the two lists below and compare and contrast what they think are the inherent characteristics of human beings. What virtues (good qualities) do they attribute to humans and what flaws? How does this view of human nature affect their understanding of the telos or purpose of human life?
- In The Second Treatise of Government, Locke – in his discussion of property – argues that “God, who has given the world to men in common, has also given them reason to make use of it to the best advantage of life and convenience” (Locke, 26). “God and his reason,” Locke writes, “commanded [humans] to subdue the earth, i.e., improve it for the benefit of life, and therein lay out something upon it that was his own, his labor” (Locke, 32; my emphasis). This, Locke claims, is the beginnings of private property: “[w]e see in commons (i.e., the state of nature) … that it is the taking of any part of what is common and removing it from the state of nature leaves it in which begins the property” (Locke, 28; my emphasis).
Choose one author from each group.
Group 1: Deloria, Nasr, Niebuhr
Group 2: Hobbes, Locke, Plato
Problematically, an example that Locke provides of a state of nature (the commons) – and therefore a land that needs to be subdued – is what he refers to as the “vacant places of America” (Locke, 36). For him, since most Native American communities didn’t have what he took to be a central government, he took these communities to be living in a state of nature. Many colonialists used this view to justify colonialism: because Native Americans didn’t own the land they lived on, colonialists were justified in removing them from their lands. Mills, for instance, argues that “[i]n the white settler states, space will sometimes be represented as … voice, wasteland, ‘virgin’ territory … [Colonialists felt justified in appropriating the land because] … there are no people there in the first place; in the second place, they’re not improving the land; and in the third place—oops!—they’re already dead anyway … so there are no people there” (Mills, 49-50).
Drawing on Mills’ The Racial Contract, critically analyze Locke’s theory of property and the commons. Do you think that Locke’s account of property is an inherently colonialist theory? Why or why not? Do you think that Deloria’s or Cordova’s worldviews offer a more responsible/respectful way of relating to the earth and to the people who dwell on it?
Extra Credit (1 point each for 2 pts total)
Instructions: Answer the following questions.
- Why does Aristophanes think that love is tragic?
- What happened to Kathy the dolphin?