DIRECTIONS: As reported in Plato’s account The Apology, Socrates famously claimed at his trial that “The unexamined life is not worth living.” In this course, you have had the opportunity to examine your own life and reality through the thoughts of the ancient Greek philosophers. The purpose of this Touchstone assignment is for you (1) to engage with the philosophical ideas presented in this course and (2) to reflect on how these philosophical ideas have impacted your own life.

Part I: Philosophical Thinking
In the first part of the Touchstone, you will be distinguishing between the three primary branches of philosophy.

Consider the three following questions:
• What is knowledge?
• What is reality made of?
• What is the good life and how ought I to live it?
These are the basic questions that were considered in different forms by the major figures in ancient Greek philosophy. But they are also critical questions for our own lives today, whether we are philosophers or not.

Part I of this assignment should be approximately 1-2 pages (300-600 words) and cover each of the following steps:
1. First, you should define philosophy and then distinguish and define each of the three main branches of philosophy covered in this class.
2. Then, identify which of the above questions is associated with each branch of philosophy.
3. You should illustrate the differences between the three branches of philosophy using examples from the course. For example, explain how Socrates would answer the question “What is knowledge?” or how Epictetus would answer the question “What is the good life?”
You will use information and examples from the Sophia tutorials to support your response. When citing material from a tutorial, please include the name of the lesson and use the following format:
• In-text citation: (Aristotle’s Highest Good, n.d.) or (The Footnotes to Plato, n.d.).
Part II: Reflection
For the second part of the Touchstone, now that you’ve distinguished between the three main branches of philosophy, you will focus on one of those three questions from Part I and use that as a starting point and guide for your personal philosophical reflection.

The purpose of Part II is for you to reflect on the philosophical mindset and some of the ideas presented in this course and apply them to your own life. This reflection is more open-ended than Part I, but should include reflections on the following questions:
1. What does it mean to think philosophically? How can thinking philosophically help me in my own life?
2. What impact do the ideas of the ancient Greek philosophers have on my own views and opinions?
3. Then, based on these reflections, you should give your own answer to whichever of the three questions from Part I you chose to focus on, using cited examples from the course to support your answer. (“What is knowledge?”; “What is reality?”; “What is the good life?”)
Part II of this assignment should be approximately 1-2 pages (300-600 words). You should write at least one paragraph for each of the three prompts listed above.
In answering these reflection questions, you are free to draw from your own experiences as well as bringing in the ideas of different ancient Greek philosophers. Please note: Some philosophers will be more suited for particular questions than others. For example, Epictetus has a lot to say about “What is the good life and how ought I to live it?” while not saying much about knowledge or reality. Plato and Aristotle wrote a great deal about all three questions.

 

Sample solution

Dante Alighieri played a critical role in the literature world through his poem Divine Comedy that was written in the 14th century. The poem contains Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. The Inferno is a description of the nine circles of torment that are found on the earth. It depicts the realms of the people that have gone against the spiritual values and who, instead, have chosen bestial appetite, violence, or fraud and malice. The nine circles of hell are limbo, lust, gluttony, greed and wrath. Others are heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery. The purpose of this paper is to examine the Dante’s Inferno in the perspective of its portrayal of God’s image and the justification of hell. 

In this epic poem, God is portrayed as a super being guilty of multiple weaknesses including being egotistic, unjust, and hypocritical. Dante, in this poem, depicts God as being more human than divine by challenging God’s omnipotence. Additionally, the manner in which Dante describes Hell is in full contradiction to the morals of God as written in the Bible. When god arranges Hell to flatter Himself, He commits egotism, a sin that is common among human beings (Cheney, 2016). The weakness is depicted in Limbo and on the Gate of Hell where, for instance, God sends those who do not worship Him to Hell. This implies that failure to worship Him is a sin.

God is also depicted as lacking justice in His actions thus removing the godly image. The injustice is portrayed by the manner in which the sodomites and opportunists are treated. The opportunists are subjected to banner chasing in their lives after death followed by being stung by insects and maggots. They are known to having done neither good nor bad during their lifetimes and, therefore, justice could have demanded that they be granted a neutral punishment having lived a neutral life. The sodomites are also punished unfairly by God when Brunetto Lattini is condemned to hell despite being a good leader (Babor, T. F., McGovern, T., & Robaina, K. (2017). While he commited sodomy, God chooses to ignore all the other good deeds that Brunetto did.

Finally, God is also portrayed as being hypocritical in His actions, a sin that further diminishes His godliness and makes Him more human. A case in point is when God condemns the sin of egotism and goes ahead to commit it repeatedly. Proverbs 29:23 states that “arrogance will bring your downfall, but if you are humble, you will be respected.” When Slattery condemns Dante’s human state as being weak, doubtful, and limited, he is proving God’s hypocrisy because He is also human (Verdicchio, 2015). The actions of God in Hell as portrayed by Dante are inconsistent with the Biblical literature. Both Dante and God are prone to making mistakes, something common among human beings thus making God more human.

To wrap it up, Dante portrays God is more human since He commits the same sins that humans commit: egotism, hypocrisy, and injustice. Hell is justified as being a destination for victims of the mistakes committed by God. The Hell is presented as being a totally different place as compared to what is written about it in the Bible. As a result, reading through the text gives an image of God who is prone to the very mistakes common to humans thus ripping Him off His lofty status of divine and, instead, making Him a mere human. Whether or not Dante did it intentionally is subject to debate but one thing is clear in the poem: the misconstrued notion of God is revealed to future generations.

 

References

Babor, T. F., McGovern, T., & Robaina, K. (2017). Dante’s inferno: Seven deadly sins in scientific publishing and how to avoid them. Addiction Science: A Guide for the Perplexed, 267.

Cheney, L. D. G. (2016). Illustrations for Dante’s Inferno: A Comparative Study of Sandro Botticelli, Giovanni Stradano, and Federico Zuccaro. Cultural and Religious Studies4(8), 487.

Verdicchio, M. (2015). Irony and Desire in Dante’s” Inferno” 27. Italica, 285-297.