Humanities 110

Introduction to the Humanities

Paper Topics | Spring 2018 | Paper 1

Paper Due: Saturday, February 17, at 5:00 PM in your conference leader's Eliot Hall mailbox.  Select one of the topics below. Length 6-8 pages (1500-2000 words).

1. How would you characterize the politics of Aristophanes’s The Clouds? What forms of authority and relations of power does the comedy uphold or undermine? How do the comic elements contribute to that work?

2. At 338c of the Republic, Thrasymachus defines justice as “...nothing other than the advantage of the stronger.” What does Thrasymachus mean by this claim, and how does he attempt to prove it? Carefully analyze just one of Socrates's counterarguments to Thrasymachus's argument.  Do you think that Socrates' offers an adequate rebuttal? Why or why not?

3. In “The Apology,” Socrates characterizes the charges against him thus: “Socrates is guilty of wrongdoing in that he busies himself studying things in the sky and below the earth; he makes the worse into the stronger argument, and he teaches these same things to others.” (19b) Based on your reading of the Republic, was Socrates guilty of the charges? 

4. Consider the work that the characterizations of Socrates’ interlocutors do in Plato's philosophical dialogues. How do they raise problems, support or undermine the philosophical discussions of the dialogues? Focus on one or two characters to make your argument.

5. Write your own essay topic. If you choose this option, it is necessary to have your conference leader approve your topic before you start working on it.