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Test your knowledge of Philosophy

Answers at end.

True/False (True=A, False=B)

1.  To say that philosophy encourages the adoption of a questioning attitude means that philosophic thinking encourages people to deny the existence of God or traditional moral beliefs.

2. In philosophy the purpose of rational self-examination is to develop arguments that correct or support beliefs in ways that could be persuasive even to people with different backgrounds.

3. Though philosophy is defined as the pursuit of wisdom, it does not investigate what it means to ask questions in the first place.

4. As the pursuit of wisdom, philosophy raises questions about almost everything except what it means to question in the first place.

5. Because philosophy requires that we question our beliefs, it cannot provide reasons why one set of beliefs should be preferred over another.

6. One of the primary aims of philosophy is to see how our beliefs compare with those of others who can and do raise objections against those beliefs.

7. Philosophy attempts to answer questions such as “Why do we exist?” by examining what it means to ask such questions and to evaluate whether proposed answers to such questions are justified.

8. Philosophical questions are generally more concerned with identifying how beliefs differ among persons or cultures than with how those different beliefs can be justified.

9. Myth provides the vocabulary and grammar in terms of which both philosophical questions and their answers are intelligible.

10.  By giving us a sense of purpose and moral value, myth indicates our place in nature and explains in general why things are the way they are.

11.  The point of the Socratic method is to determine the truth of a belief by means of dialectical exchange (questions and answers, hypothesis and counter-example).

12. Socrates’s comment that “the unexamined life is not worth living” is an example of his ironic technique of saying something that means just the opposite.

13. In the Socratic method of enquiry, one asks questions aimed at discovering the nature, essence, or fundamental principles of the topic under consideration.

14. Socratic ignorance is the same as complete skepticism because Socrates admits he knows nothing, not even whether his method of enquiry is appropriate.

15. Like the social sciences (e.g., psychology or sociology), philosophy discovers truths by identifying what people in fact believe instead of judging whether those beliefs are justified.

16. To say that philosophy is a “second order” discipline means that it investigates the presuppositions, criteria, and methods assumed by other disciplines.

17. To say that philosophy is more concerned with “second-order” or meta-level topics means that it is concerned more with facts and beliefs than with their presuppositions.

Multiple Choice

18. “Is there anything you would be willing to die for?” is a philosophical question insofar as:
  (a) it does not have any right or wrong answer because it is a meaningless question.
  (b) it is a meaningless question because everyone could have a different answer to it.
  (c) it forces us to articulate and justify our beliefs about what we know and ought to do.
  (d) it is more concerned with one’s religious beliefs than with factual claims about the world.

19. One of the aims of philosophy is to think critically about whether there are good reasons for adopting our beliefs.  Reasons are considered “good reasons” if they are consistent with everyday experience and:
  (a) are part of a set of religious, moral, or political beliefs that an individual feels deeply about.
  (b) are considered good by at least one culture, sub-culture, or individual.
  (c) cannot be interpreted in different ways by different people or cultures.
  (d) take into account objections, are acceptable to impartial third parties, and avoid undesirable consequences.

20. If the world that we individually perceive is limited to an internal perspective, then there is no way that we could determine whether our own perspective is useful, true, or valuable because:
  (a) we know whether our internal perspective is correct only by comparing it with an objective, external perspective (the “real” world).
  (b) whatever we appeal to in order to prove that our perspective is right itself would be part of the standard we use in evaluating that perspective.
  (c) scientific research that reveals facts about the world would cause us to challenge our perceptions in a dreamworld of our own making.
  (d) without limiting our perspective to an internal dreamworld, we cannot achieve any objective, external knowledge of the real world.

21. Philosophy is concerned primarily with identifying beliefs about human existence and evaluating arguments that support those beliefs.  These activities can be summarized in two questions that drive philosophical investigations:
  (a) why should we bother? and what are the consequences of our believing one thing over another?
  (b) what do you mean? and how do you know?
  (c) who really believes X? and how can we explain differences in people’s beliefs?
  (d) how do philosophers argue? and are their differences important?

22. One of the tasks of philosophy is to test conceptual frameworks for depth and consistency.  It does this through (1) expressing our ideas in clear, concise language and (2) supporting those ideas with reasons and with overcoming objections to them.  Philosophy thus emphasizes the need to:
  (a) pose questions that can be resolved not by reasoning but only by faith or personal belief.
  (b) show why the beliefs adopted by most people in a culture are preferable since more people understand those beliefs and see no reason to raise objections to them.
  (c) articulate what we mean by our beliefs and to justify our beliefs by arguments.
  (d) develop a set of ideas about the nature of society (i.e., an ideology) that can be used to support a religious conceptual framework.

23. The philosophic insistence on providing a logos for the world and our experience of it might itself rely ultimately on adopting a certain mythos, insofar as:
  (a) philosophy assumes that it is possible and meaningful to reason about the world and experience.
  (b) the myths of philosophy are really lies that are told to make so-called philosophic enquiries sound more respectable.
  (c) philosophy is based on logic, whereas myths are not based on logic.
  (d) mythos refers to the philosophic understanding of the world, whereas logos refers to the philosophic understanding of our experience of the world.

24. “There is no rationale for myth because it is through myth that reason itself is defined.”  This means that:
  (a) mythos is ultimately based on logos, just as myth is ultimately based on reasoning or thinking.
  (b) myth does not “explain” how things are related as much as it simply reveals them as related.
  (c) metaphysicians are justified in reasoning as they do because there is only one true answer about being.
  (d) myth and reason are the same: “myth” defines “reason,” and “reason” defines “myth.”

25. Whereas the social sciences (e.g., psychology, sociology, economics) ask questions about how people think and act, philosophy is the study of:
 (a) how people with different beliefs or backgrounds disagree with one another.
 (b) what beliefs mean and whether people with different beliefs are justified in having them.
 (c) the reasons why philosophic questions never have better or worse answers.
 (d) questions that can be answered better by appealing to scientific experiments.

26. To say that “philosophy” (like “love” or “art”) is not a closed concept means that we cannot state the necessary and sufficient conditions by which it is defined.  Rather, philosophic issues are identifiable as having “family resemblances” with one another.  In other words:
  (a) there is no one distinguishing feature that identifies an issue as philosophic, only an overlapping of issues roughly associated with one another.
  (b) the way we come to think about philosophy, love, or art really depends on how we were raised by our families to identify things as resembling one another.
  (c) the necessary and sufficient condition for something to be considered philosophic is that it answers either of these questions: What does it mean? and How do you know?
  (d) philosophy is not a closed discipline insofar as it is willing to accept any answer suggested by the “human family” as being true.

27. According to Socrates, just as there is a difference between what an ironic statement says and its true meaning, so also appearances differ from reality.  Even though societies or individuals appear to differ about what is required for the good life, that in no way contradicts the fact that:
 (a) what is right or wrong, true or false varies from one culture to another.
 (b) appearances are the only real way we have for knowing reality.
 (c) the distinction of appearance and reality is the basis for the dialectical discovery of truth.
 (d) there are objective principles for thought and action that are required for the good life.

28. According to Socrates, an unexamined life is not worth living; and it certainly could not be a virtuous life.  Why not?
  (a) Because if someone did not know how to act virtuously, he or she would still be considered virtuous by others who also did not know the principles for good living.
  (b) Because since Socrates was a philosopher, he of course thought that people who examined their lives philosophically were more virtuous than those who did not.
  (c) Because without knowing the rationale for why one should act in a particular way, one does not know whether actions are justified and ought to be repeated.
  (d) Because a virtuous life would be one in which someone does what the rest of the society says is right, and that means examining views other than one’s own.

29. In spite of the fact that Socrates claims to be ignorant of the essence or nature of certain things like justice, he is wise insofar as he recognizes that without such knowledge actions are rationally unjustified.  That is, his wisdom consists in his recognition not only that he is ignorant of such essences but also that:
  (a) justice, like knowledge, requires that we admit that we know nothing and never will.
  (b) he knows what he is supposed to be looking for–knowledge of the essences of things.
  (c) knowledge of the essences of things is impossible, because that would require that we know what we are looking for before we know what it is we are looking for.
  (d) his method of asking questions about essences is itself unjustified because he does not know why he engages in such a practice.

30. According to Socrates, the value or quality of one’s life depends on understanding the principles of, or basic rationale for human existence.  Without such knowledge (he suggests) life lacks virtue, because:
  (a) acting virtuously means acting in way that is informed about what one is doing and why.
  (b) someone who does not understand existence philosophically could never do anything right.
  (c) to have the power or ability to do anything at all requires that we know what we are doing.
  (d) not only is virtue knowledge but also the unexamined life is not worth living.

31. According to Socrates, it is important that we discover what makes a particular action (e.g., a merciful or just act) the kind of action that it is, because without such knowledge:
  (a) no one in society will ever do any action that really is merciful or just, only those actions that they think are merciful or just.
  (b) the primary purpose of human existence–which is to think and to know–is replaced by a focus on morality (acting and doing).
  (c) we can refer only to how people characterize actions without knowing why such actions should be characterized that way.
  (d) there would be no way to distinguish one kind of action (e.g., a merciful action) from another kind of action (e.g., a just action).

32.  For Socrates, the belief that “virtue is knowledge” is related to his claim that “the unexamined life is not worth living,” because he believes that:
  (a) the unexamined life is one in which we live day to day without asking questions about who we are and why we are here in the first place.
  (b) the Delphic oracle identified Socrates as the wisest person on earth because he claimed to know nothing.
  (c) by questioning traditional beliefs, we learn to recognize how some answers seem to be more satisfactory than others.
  (d) the only way to be a good or worthwhile person is to know how human beings should behave based on universal norms or values.

33. Socrates’ claim that “the unexamined life is not worth living” is often cited as a central theme in the activities of philosophy.  By it, Socrates is typically understood to mean that:
  (a) it is sometimes simply not worth all the effort of examining life and its problems in great detail; sometimes it is better simply to “go with the flow.”
  (b) while taking a reflective attitude toward life is interesting and even sometimes important, most of what makes life worth living is not worth examining.
  (c) simply doing whatever everyone else does without thinking about why we should do what we do can hardly be thought of as worthwhile, noble, or admirable.
  (d) it is a waste of time to sit around thinking about whether life is worth living; we should leave such reflection to talk-show hosts, political figures, and religious leaders.

34.  According to Socrates, the task of the wise and virtuous person is not simply to learn various examples of just or virtuous actions but to learn the essence of justice or virtue, because:
  (a) by knowing enough examples of justice or virtue, we will live a worthwhile life even if we do not know what makes them examples of justice or virtue.
  (b) knowledge of individual examples alone would not prepare someone for situations of justice or virtue to which the examples do not immediately apply.
  (c) what makes an action just or virtuous can be known only by asking people for their opinions and respecting each answer as equally valuable.
  (d) justice and virtue are universal goals of all human beings, even if people do not always agree on how to achieve those ends.

35.  Plato indicates that the knowledge of pure reason is preferable to conceptual understanding, because knowing that something is a certain kind of thing is not as good as knowing:
  (a) how we come to learn what to call a thing in virtue of our own experiences.
  (b) the logos or rationale of the thing, that is, why it is the way it is.
  (c) why we differ among ourselves about what we claim to know.
  (d) the difference between knowledge and opinion as outlined in Plato’s divided line image.

36. Like most rationalists, Plato defines knowledge as justified true belief.  In terms of this definition, we might be able to claim to know something as true which might actually be false, but it is impossible for us really to know something that is false.  Why?
 (a) Because to know something that is false is to know no real thing, nothing (i.e., not to know at all).
 (b) Because what we know as true is ultimately based on what we claim to know as true.
 (c) Because we cannot give a justification or reason for believing in something that is false.
 (d) Because in contrast to our knowledge of the unchanging Forms, beliefs about particular objects can change.

37. Plato distinguishes knowledge from mere belief or opinion by saying that knowledge must be a true belief for which one can give a justification, a rationale, or “logos.”  In terms of his image of the Divided Line, for Plato, knowledge is attained only when our sensible experience is:
  (a) grounded ultimately in what our senses reveal to us about the world of becoming.
  (b) based on images of the good, beauty, and truth obtained from particular objects and on which the concepts and Forms depend.
 (c) replaced by what we sincerely believe is true or have come to believe based on our upbringing.
  (d) understood in terms of concepts or innate ideas (Forms) that are perceived as rationally ordered.

38. According to Plato, we can attain knowledge only by seeing beyond this world of particular, changing objects to the true essences or Forms in terms of which things in this world are intelligible.  For example, we know what triangularity is not from comparing sensible triangles but by thinking of the ideal of triangularity in terms of which these sensible figures are recognized as triangles.  From this Plato concludes that all knowledge (as opposed to opinion) is innate, because:
  (a) from the moment we are born we know what things are in the world in terms of ideas that we get through our senses.
  (b) since we are born with senses (that is, our senses are innate), we can know things about the sensible world with certainty as long as we rely on the senses alone.
  (c) our knowledge of the world is not really of the sensible world itself but of the world grasped mathematically and ideally.
  (d) since our absolutely certain knowledge of things cannot be based on the changing things in sensible experience, it must merely be triggered by sensible experience.

39. In Plato’s idealism, the unchanging Ideas or “Forms” in terms of which sensible objects both exist and are known must transcend (that is, exist beyond) the changing realm of appearances; because if Forms changed, then:
  (a) the only things in the sensible world that we could ever experience would be concepts.
  (b) the sensible realm (in contrast to the intelligible realm) would consist only of copies of real things.
  (c) nothing in the experienced world could be or be identified as one determinate thing or another.
  (d) the sensible world would consist of unchanging Forms.

40. For Plato, ordinary sensible objects exist and are knowable as examples or instances of Ideas or “Forms” that do not exist in our ordinary sensible world.  Forms do not exist in the sensible world because:
  (a) in the sensible world only mathematical objects (e.g., triangles) can be known using hypotheses which are recollected when we are asked the right kinds of questions.
  (b) unlike everything in the sensible world, Forms are not individual things but rather the universal essences or natures by which individual things are what they are and are known.
  (c) nothing in the sensible, experienced world could exist or be identified as one particular thing or another unless there were a “Sensible World” Form (like the Form of beauty or justice).
  (d) the sensible world consists of changing Forms that exist and are known in terms of other changing Forms, which in turn exist and are known in terms of yet others in an endless regress.

41. “When a person starts on the discovery of the absolute by the light of reason only, and without any assistance of sense, and perseveres until by pure intelligence he arrives at the perception of the absolute good, he at last finds himself at the end of the intellectual world. . . . Dialectic, and dialectic alone, goes directly to the first principle and is the only science which does away with hypotheses in order to make her ground secure.”  Here Plato indicates how hypothetical knowledge cannot provide the foundation of dialectical knowledge, insofar as hypotheses simply:
  (a) explain sense experiences in terms of general concepts which themselves are not explained.
  (b) show how particular objects of experience cause us to recall innate ideas.
  (c) describe sense experience without providing an explanation for dialectical methods.
  (d) reject the use of reason, preferring instead dialectic, to achieve knowledge.

42. Plato’s suggestion that knowledge is innate or remembered as a result of being triggered by experience is in response to a paradox he sets up for himself.  The paradox, now referred to as Meno’s Paradox, has to do with the question of:
  (a) how a person can remember anything about the realm of the Forms after the shock of being born into this world.
  (b) how knowledge of the Forms can ever be anything other than a generalization of experience.
  (c) how anyone can recognize the correct answer to a question without already knowing the answer.
  (d) how concepts bound to the realm of becoming have meaning only when associated with the realm of Being.

43.  In his discussion of the Divided Line, Plato says that, in contrast to mere belief or opinion, knowledge is a belief for which we give reasons or justifications by appealing:
  (a) to what our senses reveal to us about how things appear to us, not how they  really are.
  (b) beyond the Forms to images of goodness, beauty, and truth obtained from particular objects.
  (c) to what we sincerely believe is true about the Forms based on our experiences in the world.
  (d) beyond sense experience to unchanging ideas (Forms) that are perceived as rationally ordered.

44. Aristotle says  that what makes things be what they are–their essence–does not exist apart from individ-uals that exist in the world.  So if all the members of a species were destroyed, then their essence or form:
  (a) would likewise be destroyed.
  (b) would be destroyed only if there were no one around to remember the species.
  (c) would continue existing (as with Plato’s Forms) in some other realm of being.
  (d) would not be destroyed because there was no essence or form originally to be destroyed; there are only individuals, not universal essences or natures of things.


1. B
2. A
3. B
4. B
5. B
6. A
7. A
8. B
9. A
10. A
11. A
12. B
13. A
14. B
15. B
16. A
17. B
18. C
19. D
20. B
21. B
22. C
23. A
24. B
 25. B
26. A
27. D
28. C
29. B
30. A
31. C
32. D
33. C
34. B
35. B
36. A
37. D
38. C
39. C
40. B
41. A
42. C
43. D
44. A

In the middle of a large field there is an old oak tree with a thick trunk. A squirrel is on the trunk of the tree, about five feet from the ground. A man is on the other side of the tree about 10 feet from it. He knows the squirrel is there and he circles around the tree in order to see the squirrel. But the squirrel does not want to be seen, so it circles the trunk too (in the same direction), keeping the trunk between himself and the man. Both are going around the tree, but is the man going around the squirrel or not? Why or why not?

10) When, if ever, is it right to break a promise or a date or appointment? Why?

14) If the mind is the place that all your sensations are perceived, how can you tell they don’t simply start there? In terms of our sensations and perceptions what is the difference between reality and dreams or illusions? Or is there no difference? Why or why not?

18) Another of Zeno’s paradoxes: You can never leave any room you are in, because before you can get to the door, you first have to go halfway to the door. But before you get halfway to the door you must first get halfway to that place (that is, one fourth of the way to the door). But there are an infinite number of such halfway places and you do not have time to go to an infinite number of places, so you can never get out of any room — or move anywhere. Right?

19) If a person is irresponsible and does something that hurts someone else, should he be punished? If you are not responsible for your behavior, how can you be legitimately blamed and therefore justifiably punished for what you do?

22) Scientists and others often confirm their theories or beliefs by deducing consequences of them, and then by experiment finding out that those consequences actually happen. For example, Einstein’s theory of relativity implied that light from a star would be bent a certain amount by the sun’s gravity. Experimentation showed that to actually happen, so it gave great credibility to the theory of relativity. However, that kind of reasoning is a known fallacious kind of reasoning that is never accurate. For example, a theory that someone was murdered implies that he must be dead. But finding out he really is dead, does not give any credibility at all to the statement he must have been murdered. Most dead people were in fact not murdered.

Is bad logic the foundation of scientific confirmation?

24) There are people on the streets without shelter; the government owns many vacant houses no one wants to buy. Should the government let these people live in these houses? Why or why not? There is a book in the library that I think is a neat book. The publisher owns the copyright but will not print any more copies of the book to sell. Do I have the moral right to photocopy the book then? Why or why not?

26) Do you believe in the Divine Right of Kings? People 300 years ago did. Were they somehow more ignorant than you? As late as 1955, black people were not allowed to ride in the front of a bus in the South. Does that seem silly to you? How could it have possibly seemed right, or even important, to white people in the first half of the twentieth century? Were they somehow more ignorant than you? Do you think you have any beliefs that people 50 or 100 years from now will think you must have been really stupid to believe? Or are all the silly beliefs finally weeded out?

28) Suppose that your spouse or your baby, like in an old movie, is tied to a railroad track with a train approaching that is carrying 100 people. You are at the switch, but if you switch the train away from your spouse or baby, it will run over a broken bridge off a high cliff with jagged rocks and a raging current hundreds of feet below. What should you do? Why?

9) Man’s and God’s mathematical laws and principles are different.

True or false? Are you sure or are you guessing?

Is this a question of fact or one of opinion?

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