15 September 2010

Questions to think about for Irvine, Part 1

There's no need to post answers to these questions on the blog (but feel free to, if you are so moved), but do think about these questions, and bring answers to them to class with you on Friday as we discuss Part 1 (Chapters 1-3) of William Irvine's book.

1. Irvine, in Chapter 1, introduces us to the notion of a philosophy of life. A philosophy of life involves two things: a conception of what the truly valuable things are and then a discussion of what the best means is to pursue those things. What is your philosophy of life?

2. Is it true, as Irvine says on pp. 22-23, that religions don’t offer a philosophy of life? They tell us what is required to be a good person, and what is required to have a good afterlife, but since they don’t tell us (or don’t tell us very much about) what is required to have a good life, they don’t offer a philosophy of life. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

3. On p. 27 Irvine very quickly describes three philosophies of life: those of the Cyreniacs, the Cynics, and the Stoics. Which of these three does your philosophy of life come closest to? If it doesn’t exactly match any of them, how does it compare?

4. What do the Stoics mean by tranquility? Is tranquility (as they understand it) something you value? Is it the most important thing? If it is, why is it so? And if it isn’t, what is more important?

5. Identify two or three positive aspects of Stoicism. That is, what are two or three good features, in your view, of the Stoic outlook? What are two or three problems you have with Stoicism?

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