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Compare the divine and human natures (Term Paper Sample)


   Saint Francis College

Fall 2013

Phil 1101-11 Basic Problems in Philosophy                    T 6:00 – 9:00 Room 6306

Final Exam Questions

Write essays on all questions 1 – 3 below. Write as much as you can. Your essays do not need to be polished. Just write out anything that comes to mind.

For extra credit write on question 4 or question 5 or on both questions 4 and five. You will also receive extra credit if you incorporate parts of questions 4 and 5 in your essays on questions 1 – 3.


Question 1

  1. 1.    Compare the divine and human natures


  1. a.    Are they the same or different?


  1.                                          i.    How can we characterize divine being? How do we represent the existence of the blessed gods?


  1.                                        ii.    How do we characterize human existence?
    1. 1.    What constitutes human being?
    2. 2.    What is the lot or fate of human beings?


  1.                                      iii.    According to Glaukos  (Il.6.119-236) there are two parts of human life. We are beings of nature and we are social beings. Achilles echoes this theme in his rejection of Agamemnon’s gifts in Book 9.


  1. 1.    We are beings of nature.


  1. a.    That only is true which finds confirmation in nature (experience).


  1.                                                                                          i.    Conventions founded on natural distinctions such as parent/child
  2.                                                                                        ii.    Natural family affection (philia) is the bond of community.
  3.                                                                                      iii.    Civil or Human laws are founded on laws of nature, i.e., natural equality and natural inequality.


  1. b.    What does this theory imply for social distinctions between people? Is natural law a law of equality or a law of inequality? Are all equal by nature or unequal by nature? Or are we in some respects equal and in other respects unequal by nature? Are there political implications to claims of natural equality and natural inequality?


  1.                                                                                          i.    How might Agamemnon appeal to such concepts to support his claim to absolute power? Does the final gift in his offer to Achilles support this view of man as a natural being
  2.                                                                                        ii.    What does the test of experience reveal about the relation of Agamemnon to Achilles?
  3.                                                                                      iii.    How might Achilles employ the same concepts in his assertion that he and Agamemnon being peers, Agamemnon had no right to use force to snatch his prize? Is this why he says that Agamemnon deceived him? Does this conception of man as a being of nature underlie his feeling of betrayal? Why are you treating me like the most unequal of men when we are the most equal?


  1. 2.    We are social beings. We live in a human world constituted by human conventions. Does this mean that social inequality supersedes natural equality? Does this mean that laws and customs grounded in convention are truth and reality for humans?


  1. a.    Nothing is just or unjust in nature.
  2. b.    Justice comes into existence from sovereign power.


  1. c.    Is political association a voluntary form of association generated from self-interest that every individual recognizes as supplying overwhelming motives for joining with others in a political community?


  1. d.    What are the common ends or interests that underlie the understanding of political association as a social contract?


  1. e.    Does Achilles articulate them in his rejection of Agamemnon and his gifts – indeed his rejection of every word coming from Agamemnon’s “hateful head”?


  1. f.     In his rejection of Agamemnon’s gifts, does Achilles articulate a principle of fairness, right, and justice for life in a political association generated from the ends (purposes, interests) that all men have in common?


  1. 3.    The world – the world which is ultimately real and true to us is the cosmos – the world reconstituted by intelligence and divine will.
    1. a.    The world as creation
    2. b.    The cosmos/creation, the world of intellectual/spiritual beings may not exhibit any foundation in experience or custom.


  1. c.    What is most real and true to us? Is it the natural world, the human world? Or is it the divine/intellectual world of ideas – the world created or reconstituted by Nous (intelligence, mind, or spirit)?


  1. d.    What is most real to us? Is it the urgings of nature, the will to live? Is it success (as defined by conventional measures – wealth, honor) in the world created by human beings?


  1. e.    Or is it to live a kind of live in the spirit of the gods? Is it to live according to the divine will or perhaps according to ideas such as justice and truth? In other words is the idea of justice, conformity with the divine will what is most real to us? In other words, is there a dignity of Man to which we are born and to which we properly aspire even if we see no confirmation of its existence in nature (experience) and there is no expectation of conformity with it in moralized behavior?


  1. f.     Looking beyond the speeches in Book 6 and in Book 9, are we also spiritual/intellectual beings? Is there a perfection or completion of human being, an end we seek to attain individually and collectively?


  1. g.    Achilles is often called dios (of or from Zeus, godlike). Is there evidence in the Iliad of dios Achilles aspiring to the divine, or to an intellectual being? 


  1. h.    Does Achilles in Book 24 enter this world when he bends his will to that of Zeus even though he is being pulled in the opposite direction by the most violent passions?


  1. i.      Do we see in his aspiration for the divine, to live according to the idea of right embodied in the law a principle for a philosophical origin of political association, one generated in rational contemplation of the dignity of Man as a rational being?

Question #2 – Appeals to heaven

  1. 2.    Achilles appeals to Zeus for Justice.  We need to be clear.


  1. a.    Is he appealing for Justice or is he appealing for a special consideration?


  1. b.    What is the basis of an appeal to Zeus?
    1.                                          i.    What is the point to decrying injustice, if injustice is not hateful to the gods and justice pleasing to them? Is it the case that one appeals for justice on the understanding that the gods love justice and hate injustice? Can you substantiate this position with evidence from the Iliad and Odyssey?
    2.                                        ii.    Or is an appeal to Zeus never anything but an appeal for special consideration – on the understanding that Zeus cares nothing for justice but only for personal favor?  Is there evidence in the Iliad and Odyssey for this position?


  1. c.    What do the gods hate?


  1.                                          i.    They hate disrespect. That is certainly true. Poseidon is forever complaining that mortals are showing disrespect for his person.


  1.                                        ii.    But what is the greatest disrespect. If we assume that the gods hate injustice, we must assume that acting unjustly is the greatest disrespect we can show to the gods.


  1. d.    What do the gods love? What pleases them?
    1.                                          i.    They love to receive sacrifices.


  1. e.    What do they respect? What do they reward?
    1.                                          i.    The gods sometimes accept sacrifices and sometimes deny them.
    2.                                        ii.    Is there a sacrifice that they find especially pleasing, one that they never deny? How do we serve the gods?


  1. f.     What does it mean to give ourselves over to right action?


  1.                                          i.    How do we know what is right?  
  2.                                        ii.    Is it revealed in the will of Zeus as the poets represent it to us?
  3.                                      iii.    Must we inquire into what is right in and by itself before we undertake to do what is right in particular situations?


  1. g.    Must one be worthy of honor from the gods in order to make an appeal to Zeus?


  1.                                          i.    Is all this nothing more than Thetis calling in a favor on behalf of her son? Perhaps Thetis is worthy while Achilles is not.
  2.                                        ii.    Does Achilles deserve honor from Zeus according to his own merits?
  3.                                      iii.    Is Achilles the worthy son of a worthy mother? Or is he the unworthy recipient of a favor that Zeus owes to Thetis?


  1.                                       iv.    Consider the case against Achilles made by Apollo in Book 24:39-54
    1. 1.    You [gods] don’t take anything into consideration beyond this destructive Achilles whose mind is neither correct nor just nor susceptible to reason. But like a wild beast that has yielded to its great strength and powerful spirit goes against the flocks of men in order to seize a meal, Achilles has destroyed compassion and shame  which harms men and profits them … But now this fellow after killing divine Hector insults the body…though he is noble, let him not anger us. He outrages the senseless earth in his raging.


  1.                                         v.    Consider the defense of Achilles by Iris in Book 24: 157-158
    1. 1.    Tell Priam not to fear death. For Achilles is neither thoughtless, nor inconsiderate, nor a sinner. But attentively (dutifully) he will spare the suppliant.


  1. h.    Achilles asks Zeus to honor him as the best of the Achaeans? What makes Achilles the best of the Achaeans? Whatever makes him the best of the Achaeans is what makes him worthy of respect in the eyes of the gods if not in the eyes of men. Or put it another way, whatever makes him worthy of respect in the eyes of the gods is what makes him the best of the Achaeans. This is the basis of for his appeal for to heaven for justice/honor from Zeus.


  1.                                          i.    Is it martial prowess – his role as protector of the community? But the protector from others can also be an oppressor.
  2.                                        ii.    Is it the wealth he brings to the community in the form of plunder? Is Bill Gates the best of the Achaeans, because his company generates tremendous wealth for the people? Problem of oligarchy
  3.                                      iii.    Is it something else that makes him worthy of respect?
    1. 1.    Does the safety of the people reside in respect for the gracious laws and customs instituted by the gods?
    2. 2.    In other words, is justice the best thing we humans have?
    3. 3.    Of course, the laws must be just. Scrupulous observance of unjust laws is not worthy of respect. We assume that the gracious laws of the gods are eminently just.

Question # 3

  1. 3.    What does it mean to receive an honor that comes not from other men, but from Zeus?
    1. a.    What is the gift/prize that Achilles receives from Zeus? Is it the honor he thought he was going to receive?
      1.                                          i.    It did not make him happy as he supposed it would.


  1. b.    What do we learn about the justice of Zeus from the way Zeus brings to fulfillment the prayer of Thetis?


  1.                                          i.    He gives Achilles just what he asked. But it did not come about in the way that Achilles expected.


  1.                                        ii.    Does Zeus have an ulterior motive? When you appeal to Zeus, are you setting yourself to become an instrument of the divine will which may encompass more than your private cause?


  1.                                      iii.    Is an appeal to heaven not a compact in which you volunteer to become an instrument? It is not me alone in my provate grief but me among the Achaeans who has fallen prey to injustice. I cite my individual case as representative. In giving me justice, you bring justice to all the Achaeans.


  1. c.    Discuss the concept of theamoira (divine fate) in reference to Achilles.


  1.                                          i.    The one thing that most consistently characterizes Achilles is his rage. He beats down one rage (against Agamemnon) only to indulge another rage (against Hector).
  2.                                        ii.    In his rage, Achilles places himself outside the everyday context of human society? This appears to the people as madness.
  3.                                      iii.    Discuss the two kinds of madness.
  4.                                       iv.    Does Achilles exhibit pathological madness in obsessive concern for respect for his person? Is his insistence on self a form of madness? If so, cite some passages as evidence.
  5.                                         v.    Is he affected by a divine madness? Can insistence on justice assume the appearance of divine madness, especially if it leads to a new and better concept of justice/right?
  6.                                       vi.    Is the sorrowful fate of Achilles a “privilege” given to him by Zeus? In other words, is it a privilege to be handed such a fate as he received? Why might this privilege/gift (geras) be something that belongs particularly to him?
  7. d.    Does Achilles re-integrate himself into the community? What do you make of the funeral games for Patroclus? Does the ethos of Achilles reconstitute the community? What is his implied position in the community at the end of the Iliad?

Question #4

  1. 4.    After the death of Patroclus, Achilles reflects on his life and death. He is repeatedly reminded of prophesies regarding his impending death.  
    1. a.    Study the notes on Heidegger’s study of Dasein in its everydayness and the role of radical anxiety in liberating us from conventional life for authentic existence.
    2. b.    Do Heidegger’s reflections shed any light on the ultimate fate of Achilles?
      1.                                          i.    How does Heidegger’s description of Dasein in its everydayness apply to Achilles from Books 1 through Book 18? Although he withdraws from the army and the society of his companions - supposedly to dwell among the gods sustained by honor from Zeus - does he not remain lost in the very groundless existence that he professes to disdain?  He is lost in his rage. Does excessive respect for his person keeps him perversely attuned to honor from his fellow men.
      2.                                        ii.    Does the anxiety he experiences following the death of Patroclus force him into new reflections on who he is and what he is?
        1. 1.    He must respect that strong as he is he is not a very good protector. He does not save his friend or the many other companions who were killed by Hector.
        2. 2.    He cannot save his own father.
        3. 3.    He cannot even save himself.
    3.                                      iii.    How does he feel about himself after hearing the news that Hector has slaughtered Paroclus?
    4.                                       iv.    What is his first understanding of himself and his fate?
    5.                                         v.    Does the proximity of his own death immediately awaken him to understanding of his true individual self? How does he understand himself at this point?
    6.                                       vi.    Is there a negative phase and positive phase to his response to his experience of radically individualizing anxiety?
  2. c.    Consider his mood throughout the Iliad. He finds himself first in feeling of disgrace and then in feeling of loss. What is his mood at the end of Book 24?
  3. d.    Are the words of Thetis “moments of vision”? Remember, the appearance of gods can be explained in terms of one’s own thought processes
    1.                                          i.     In book 18: 128-129 She says, ‘Yes, this is truly not an ignoble fate, to beat aside utter destruction from your hard-pressed companions. [This action will lead straightaway to his death.]
    2.                                        ii.    In Book 24, Thetis shakes him out of his preoccupation with his own loss when she asks him how much longer he plans on keeping up his grieving, “especially since you do not have much longer to live.” With these words, does Achilles not embark on a new more radical reflection: in view of impending death, how do I live my life?  -- This is a question for everyone.
    3.                                      iii.    Return to Glaukos and Sarpedon and the scene in book 1. I am the person who asserts the rule of right even at my personal expense.  
    4.                                       iv.    Does Achilles experience guilt and a final call of conscience during his scene with Priam?
    5.                                         v.    Do the words of Zeus echoing in his mind provide another moment of vision? (identification of individual will with divine will)
    6.                                       vi.    Does Achilles exhibit anticipatory resoluteness when he says to Priam in Book 24, “I fully intend to ransom Hector, for a messenger came to me from Zeus…”
    7.                                     vii.    He is resolved to do the will of Zeus however much he is tempted to indulge his grief. Is this an achievement considering the strength of his passions?
    8.                                   viii.    What then is his ecstatic self? What is the authentic way of being that is suited to himself in his situation. How does Homer show that to us in the way he treats Priam?


Question #5

Apply Aristotle’s precepts of poetry to the Iliad.

What is the tragedy of Achilles?

What is the tragedy of Hector?

Saint Francis College
Fall 2013
Phil 1101-11 Basic Problems in Philosophy
Question 1
1 Compare the divine and human natures
Human and divine natures are totally two different things. The human nature is the living one complete with body and soul .It has conscience and can rationally act and make decisions .On the other hand divine nature is supernatural in the sense that it only incorporates a soul without body or any flesh. It exists in an unseen environment and can only be accessed by intermediaries. Their main purpose is to help the human nature tackle problems they encounter in their daily lives. The human nature has the obligation to appease the divine nature by offering sacrifices and also naming their off springs after them.
Divine beings can be characterized as the intermediaries between the living nature and gods. They act as mediators of the human nature to their gods whenever they do what is against the will of the gods. On the other hand divine beings are abstract in the sense that they cannot be seen as they exist in a spiritual nature. The existence of blessed gods is represented by sacred natural phenomena. This may include a strange big tree on the top of a hill, a big rock in a certain cave or even natural features such as unique waterfall in a secretive area or a strange hole or dungeon.
Human existence is characterized by ability to think and freely interact with the environment. It exists in body and soul. Body in the sense there is a tangible human body complete with all the features. Soul is the unseen part of a human being and it is believed whenever a person dies it is only the body that dies the soul will remain to intercede for the living beings to their gods. Mind is another part of a human being as it is responsible for the day to day decision making and also responsible for intelligence of individuals.
The human body is mainly comprised of the body, soul and mind. The body is the skeleton complete with flesh while soul is the abstract nature of human beings that entails his/her conscience and the soul still exist even after death. Mind it the driving force for the overall human being in his/her daily life.
It's clear that human are mortal creatures and thus they are subjected to death at some point in life. In the event of death the body is excommunicated from the soul and thus it seizes to exist. The soul exists in isolation in a supernatural world where it serves to intercede for the living beings with their gods. Conventions founded on natural distinctions such as parent/child. Natural family affection is the bond of community. Civil or Human laws are founded on laws of nature, i.e., natural equality and natural inequality.
Indeed human beings are beings of nature as they are founded on the auspices of nature. On social distinctions between people it can be understood that nature does not take level equality to all human beings in one aspect beings may be equal but naturally unequal i...
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