Weekly Reflection: Third Meditation


Only read the “Third Meditation”

and then follow the assignment instructions.

you can access the reding here: https://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/descartes1641.pdf

Guidelines for Weekly Reflections

These won’t be as formal or organized as a reflection paper, but they will be more detailed than a list of jotted notes. You should be reflecting on all the readings for the week, viewed as a whole. These reflections will help you measure, synthesize, and demonstrate your understanding of the readings for the week. This means you should always be supporting your claims with citations. These citations can be brief (Author Name, page/paragraph number), but thorough enough that I can find the relevant passage with ease.

Why am I asking for such citations?

  1. When you are required to support your understanding with direct evidence from the text, it can help you to test and correct your understanding. For example: sometimes you get a “sense” of what the author is saying, but when you go back to find the quote/passage, it’s not there. That lets you know that you weren’t really responding to the author, but to your initial (mis)understanding.
  2. This helps me to see much faster if you are understanding the texts well. When you are misunderstanding the texts, it helps me to correct you so you can learn a lot more.
  3. This is just what we do in academia: we cite our sources all the time. Outside of academia we don’t have to; in academia it’s just the thing to do.

NOTE: I don’t have citations below because I created the examples in a stream-of-consciousness, 5-minute writing kind of way.

Structure for the Weekly Reflections

These should be organized by sections (I will give you the required sections below). You may use the section names as headings to keep you organized and to help me to see at a glance where your responses for each section are.

  1. One thing you learned in this week’s reading that surprised you. (Alternately: what was the most interesting thing you learned in this week?)
  2. At discussion questions you’ve developed based on your current best understanding of the readings.
  3. How do this week’s readings and discussions connect to things you’ve encountered or already know, whether from other classes, the news, the arts, culture, etc.?
  4. My best understanding of the central concept or theme that the week’s readings convey, and why it might be important for a rich understanding of what makes for a good life. Explain and support what you say here with cited evidence from this week’s reading.

Explanations and Examples for Each of the Four Sections

[the responses below are from a variety of texts, not all of which we are reading for this class]

1. One thing I learned in this week’s reading that surprised me.

This should be at least one full paragraph. That’s a minimum. It shouldn’t be more than a page.

I was surprised by the fact that Seneca thought anger was the most destructive of all human emotions. [citation here] I am used to thinking about anger as being not just justified, but also unavoidable, and also even good when you really need to get your point across. But Seneca makes some good points, and I hadn’t thought of them before. When you’re angry, it is hard to think clearly and to respond with any kind of gentleness. [citation here] It’s also a lot easier to start getting carried away by the desire to make someone else feel as bad as you do. And I guess anger doesn’t actually accomplish anything—only what you say might accomplish something but it could go either way. Sometimes anger pushes you to say things you needed to say, but maybe Seneca’s point is not that you shouldn’t say those things, but that you shouldn’t need anger to say them. [citation here]

2. Two questions I have as a result of this week’s reading and discussion.

These should not be “quiz-type” questions. That is, there should not be an obvious right answer. Instead, they should be reflective questions that show that you’ve been digging deeper about the issue and looking for the principles (if there are any) that would help us to make strong moral decisions (when we need to).

Notice that by the end of my response to #1 above, I already discovered a question.

  1. Can you really learn to not become angry? That is, to become the “kind of person” who doesn’t get angry?
    1. What would you have to do to get there?
    1. Would that look good?
  2. In the discussion, people who thought anger was normal or good didn’t seem convinced by those who thought it was wrong, and people who thought it was wrong didn’t seem convinced by those who thought it was normal or good. Why is that?
    1. How can we talk about anything if everyone just seems really set in their opinions?
      1. Do we need consensus for discussions of good/bad?
    1. Is there a single “right” answer about this?
    1. What do the “pro-anger” people think that we’d lose if we worked to relinquish anger? What do the “anti-anger” people think we lose if we give in to anger?

3.     One connection I made between the reading for this week and things I already know or am familiar with:

This doesn’t have to be super personal, even though it’s a connection you’re making to course material and things you know/experience outside of course material. Why do this? When you connect what you learn to what you already know, you remember it so much more easily. It also tends to help learners to see more in the topic (and so to analyze and apply it better) than if all kinds of knowledge are kept separate.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that I’ve felt a lot more tendencies toward anger as I get older than I had when I was younger. I think, weirdly, that this is a good thing: it means that I notice that things bother me—if folks weren’t experiencing at least impulses toward anger in response to gross injustice, that would be a really bad thing. In 2020, we’ve seen so much that should make us feel all kinds of bad, horrible feelings, anger-impulses included. It still means I might need to work harder to keep the impulse toward anger from becoming rage.

Myisha Cherry has recent stuff on anger as being good, and I want to check that out. Does her line of reasoning mesh with the Stoics at all? Having now read more of Cherry’s work, it seems that it actually does mesh, and it also might correct some potential weaknesses in Seneca’s work on anger. [citation here]

  • My best understanding of the central concept or theme that the week’s readings convey, and why it might be important for a rich understanding of what makes for a good life.

In this section, I want to see a concise, 1-sentence formulation of the main point. What is the overall thesis the author is defending? What is the main thing the author wants you to see, believe, or at least take seriously? Then, connect that idea to what it means to live a life of flourishing.

Seneca’s main point in his essay on anger is that anger—as anger—can’t reliably accomplish any of the things we want anger to accomplish, and therefore, it’s an irrational passion we should work hard to relinquish and avoid. The things we want anger to accomplish are good: we want justice, we want restitution, we want a release of our painful emotions. However, anger leads to justice at least as often as to injustice (probably more); to further damage more often than it leads to restitution, and it amplifies painful emotions more often than it extinguishes them. So if we want to live well, personally/individually, but also socially, then we should find ways to get to justice, fairness, restitution after wrong-doing, and emotional health in different ways than by giving in to anger.

4. My best understanding of the central concept or theme that the week’s readings convey, and why it might be important for a rich understanding of what makes for a good life.

In this section you should refer to at least one text somewhere. (In general, most sections should have some reference to the text. I’m just doing all this off the top of my head.) You’re showing me that you understand the central concept or theme, and that you can apply it to your (provisional/growing) conception of what makes a “good life.”

A good life seems to be one where you do things on purpose as much as possible, and where you can pursue and enjoy good things. Even if anger can help us overcome or address bad situations, anger itself isn’t something to enjoy. So if there are ways to overcome or address bad things without anger, then that seems preferable to doing so with anger. I am thinking of Martin Luther King Jr.’s writings here, and his lack of cruelty, meanness, or rage when writing about or protesting injustice. Possibly harder is Nelson Mandela’s efforts to promote friendship with his oppressors. Recently Ellen DeGeneres came under a lot of criticism for her friendship with George Bush Jr. Did people criticize Mandela for the same? Should they have?

Formatting Guidelines

I used 3 different typefaces here to help you see the difference between instructions and examples, but YOU should only use Times New Roman 12-point font for ALL parts of every document you submit.

Margins         1 inch all the way around

Font                Times New Roman

Font size         12-point

Spacing          Double (no extra space between paragraphs, please)

Indentation    indent the first line of every new paragraph

Header           Don’t use it! Your name should be in the “text” area, NOT in the header

Citations?      Yes, please. Have a works cited section. Cite in the line of text.


                               Weekly Reflections

                      One Thing I Learned in this Week’s Reading that Surprised Me

Notice how Descartes draws a clear line from the concept of an endless substance to the presence of God in this argument. In answer to a potential objection to the first argument, he offers a cosmological response. According to this objection, a finite substance with the idea of God might be potentially be caused by a finite substance with the idea of God (Descartes 10). What is the connection between that finite substance and the notion of God, though? Another finite material with the idea of God, if you will. But how did that finite substance gets associated with the idea of God? And then there’s another finite substance and so on endlessly. In order to end the infinite regress by giving an adequate explanation for its existence in the first place, an ultimate cause of the idea of God must be discovered at some point. Only God has enough actuality to be the ultimate cause (Descartes 12). Finally, Descartes claims to have derived God’s existence from his own intuitions as a finite substance with the idea of God.

Two questions I have as a result of this week’s reading and discussion

  1. Is God fundamentally present in all of our intellects, even though we’re not aware of it because of our minds’ disorderliness and confusion?
  2. Can we comprehend the definition’s terms if the notion isn’t already there in our minds without words?
  3. Is there any amount of thought on the concepts of finite beings that we get from our senses, imagination, or intellect that might lead to the idea of God? Does it mean
  4. If God is the source of our nature as thinking creatures, does it mean that this nature can only be faulty in the way that the First Meditation suggests?
  5. Is God essentially inclined to error or truth? 
  6. Can God be a deceiver?

                        One connection between the readings and things I already know.……………for help with this assignment contact us via email Address: consulttutor10@gmail.com

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