CSS Solved Political Science Past Paper 2023 | Write short notes on the following: 1- Existentialism is Humanism; 2-“Cogito, ergo sum”.
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1- Existentialism is Humanism
In this question, the examiner has asked you to write a note on Jean Sartre’s essay Existentialism is Humanism. So, first of all, you will give a brief introduction. Next, you will elaborate on key themes and Sarte’s arguments in existentialism is humanism. Then, you will give criticism of Existentialism is Humanism followed by a critical analysis and conclusion. By following this approach, you will be scoring the highest marks. Usually, aspirants start writing answers without breaking the topic into its asked segments. So, let me write the answer for you to understand how to attempt a Political Science question to score the maximum.
2- Key Themes in Existentialism is Humanism
- ✓ Existentialist View of Human Nature
- ✓ The Importance of Freedom of Choice
- ✓ The Absurdity of Human Existence
- ✓ Responsibility and Authenticity
3- Sartre’s Arguments in Existentialism is Humanism
- ✓ Defense of Existentialism
- ✓ Critique of Other Philosophies
- ✓ Rejection of Determinism
- ✓ Condemnation of Bad Faith
4- Significance and Legacy of Existentialism is Humanism
- ✓ Influence on Post-World War II Intellectual and Cultural Movements
- ✓ Impact on Philosophy and the Humanities
5- Criticism of Existentialism is Humanism
- ✓ Potential for isolation and loneliness
- ✓ Rejection of objective meaning or purpose
- ✓ Possibility of guilt or anxiety
6- Critical Analysis
Answer to the question
Existentialism is Humanism is a philosophical essay written by Jean-Paul Sartre- a French philosopher and writer- known as one of the most prominent figures in the existentialist movement. In 1946, Sartre published an essay entitled “Existentialism is a Humanism,” which aimed to clarify the nature of existentialist philosophy and its relevance to human life. This essay is considered a landmark in the development of existentialist thought and is still widely read and discussed today. Moreover, Existentialism and humanism are two schools of thought that deal with the nature of human existence. Existentialism emphasizes individual freedom and choice, however, humanism stresses the importance of human values and dignity. In the essay “Existentialism is Humanism,” Jean-Paul Sartre brings these two perspectives together, arguing that existentialism is a form of humanism that emphasizes the value of human existence.
The key Themes in Existentialism is Humanism
Sartre’s essay presents several key themes that are central to his existentialist philosophy. The first theme is human nature. Sartre argues that humans have no inherent nature or essence and that we are defined solely by our actions and choices. This implies that we are responsible for creating our own identity and giving our lives meaning.
The next theme is the importance of choice and freedom. Sartre believes that humans have complete freedom to choose their own path in life. However, with this freedom comes responsibility, as our choices have real consequences for ourselves and others. Sartre stresses the importance of making conscious, deliberate choices and taking responsibility for their outcomes. Besides, he argues that this freedom and responsibility can be daunting and anxiety-inducing, as it requires us to make difficult choices without the comfort of external guidance or predetermined values. However, he also suggests that this freedom is ultimately liberating, as it allows us to shape our lives according to our values and aspirations.
Then, there is a theme of the absurdity of human existence. Sartre maintains that the universe is indifferent to human life and that our existence is ultimately meaningless. This realization can be unsettling, however, Sartre argues that it also provides an opportunity for individuals to create their meaning and purpose in life.
Finally, Sartre emphasizes the importance of authenticity and responsibility. He argues that individuals must take responsibility for their choices and actions, and must be true to themselves and their values. This implies the rejection of the social and cultural norms that seek to impose a particular identity on us and instead create our unique selves.
Jean Sartre’s Argument in Existentialism is Humanism
In his essay, Sartre defends existentialism against various criticisms and critiques other philosophical schools of thought. He argues that existentialism offers a more honest and accurate view of human existence than other philosophies, such as Marxism or psychoanalysis. Furthermore, he rejects determinism, the idea that our choices and actions are predetermined by factors outside of our control. Moreover, Sartre maintains that humans have complete freedom to choose their own path in life and that this freedom is both a blessing and a burden.
Furthermore, In “Existentialism is a Humanism,” Sartre critiques traditional moral systems that rely on fixed moral codes and external authorities, arguing that they limit our freedom and prevent us from creating our values. Instead, he advocates for a form of ethical individualism, where individuals are free to choose their own values and actions, but must take responsibility for the consequences of those choices.
Besides, Sartre’s humanism is based on the idea that every individual is unique and valuable, and that each person has the potential to create meaning and purpose in their. He rejects the idea that there is any objective or universal meaning to human existence, arguing that each individual must create their own meaning through their choices and actions.
Moreover, Sartre condemns what he calls “bad faith,” which he defines as the act of denying our own freedom and responsibility to conform to societal norms or expectations. This leads to inauthenticity, as individuals fail to live true to themselves and their values. Instead, Sartre argues that individuals must embrace their freedom and take responsibility for their choices, even if this means going against the grain of societal expectations.
Significance and Legacy of Existentialism is Humanism
Sartre’s essay has had a significant impact on philosophy and the humanities, and it continues to be studied and debated by scholars and thinkers today. In the post-World War II period, Sartre’s ideas had a profound influence on intellectual and cultural movements, particularly in Europe. Besides, his emphasis on individual freedom and responsibility resonated with a generation of thinkers who were grappling with the aftermath of World War II and the rise of totalitarianism.
Criticism of Existentialism is Humanism
Critics of existentialism, argue that it is too individualistic and that it ignores the social and political factors that shape human existence. They also point out that Sartre’s philosophy tends to be overly abstract and can be difficult to apply to real-world situations. Moreover, Sartre’s existentialism is often associated with a sense of dread or nihilism, as it challenges traditional beliefs and values and offers no external sources of comfort or guidance. However, he argues that this sense of anxiety and uncertainty is a natural part of human existence and that it is only by facing these fears that we can truly embrace our freedom and create authentic and meaningful lives.
In critical analysis, Sartre’s “Existentialism is Humanism” argues that human beings are fundamentally free and responsible for their existence. This freedom is both daunting and liberating, as it allows individuals to shape their lives according to their own values and aspirations, while also requiring them to take responsibility for the consequences of their choices. Additionally, Sartre’s humanism emphasizes the value and uniqueness of each individual and rejects traditional moral systems that limit our freedom and prevent us from creating our own values. Ultimately, he sees human existence as a constantly evolving process of self-creation, where each person must create their own meaning and purpose in life.
In the nut shell, “Existentialism is Humanism” is an important work in the history of philosophy and provides valuable insights into the human condition. Sartre’s emphasis on individual freedom and responsibility, the absurdity of human existence, and the importance of authenticity continue to resonate with people today. While existentialism may have its critics, it remains a powerful and provocative way of thinking about the nature of human existence. As individuals continue to grapple with questions of meaning and purpose, Sartre’s ideas offer a thought-provoking and challenging perspective on the human experience. Conclusively, Sartre’s view is that existentialism is humanism because it emphasizes human freedom, choice, and responsibility, and affirms the value and dignity of human existence.
2-“Cogito, ergo sum” “I think, therefore I am.”
In this question, the examiner has asked to write a note on Rene Descartes’s philosophy of “Cogito, ergo sum”. So, first of all, you’ll give a brief introduction. Next, you will explain the statement in detail. Then, you will elaborate on the significance of this philosophy. After that, you will give criticism and relevance of “Cogito, ergo sum” followed by critical analysis and conclusion. By following this approach, you will be scoring the highest marks. Usually, aspirants start writing answers without breaking the topic into its asked segments. So, let me write the answer for you to understand how to attempt a Political Science question to score the maximum.
2- Explanation of “Cogito, ergo sum”
- ✓ Background on Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy
- ✓ Descartes’ doubt of all beliefs, including those based on the senses
- ✓The realization that the act of doubting implies the existence of a thinking
- ✓ The formulation of “Cogito, ergo sum” as a conclusion based on this insight
3- Significance of “Cogito, ergo sum“
- ✓ Explanation of how “Cogito, ergo sum” provides a firm foundation for knowledge
- ✓ Descartes’ belief that the insight of “Cogito, ergo sum” cannot be doubted
- ✓ The implication that the mind is more certain than the body, leading to dualism
- ✓ The impact of “Cogito, ergo sum” on philosophy and other areas of thought
4- Criticisms and counterarguments
- ✓ Criticism of Descartes’ starting point as overly skeptical
- ✓ Criticism of the dualistic implications of “Cogito, ergo sum”
- ✓ Counterarguments to these criticisms, including Descartes’ responses in his work
5- Relevance of Cogito, ergo sum
- ✓ Influence on modern philosophy
- ✓ Relationship to other philosophical ideas
- ✓ Applications in fields such as psychology and neuroscience
6- Critical Analysis
Answer to the question
Rene Descartes- a renowned French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist- coined the statement “Cogito, ergo sum,” which translates to “I think, therefore I am.” Descartes is famous for his method of doubt, which he used to question the validity of all knowledge, including knowledge based on the senses. One of his most important contributions to philosophy is the phrase “Cogito, ergo sum,”. This statement has had a profound impact on philosophy and continues to influence modern thinking.
Explanation of “Cogito, ergo sum.”
Descartes developed his ideas about “Cogito, ergo sum” in his work, “Meditations on First Philosophy,” published in 1641. In this work, Descartes attempts to find a foundation for knowledge that is beyond doubt. He begins by doubting everything, including the existence of the physical world and his own body. Descartes then realizes that he cannot doubt the fact that he is doubting, which implies the existence of a thinking thing, a mind, or a self. This realization leads him to the conclusion that “Cogito, ergo sum” – I think, therefore I am.
The statement “Cogito, ergo sum” asserts that the very act of thinking proves one’s existence. Descartes argued that even if he was deceived in all other aspects of his existence, he could not doubt that he existed because he was thinking. The statement highlights the importance of self-awareness and introspection in understanding oneself. It emphasizes the power of the mind and thinking as the basis of human existence. Besides, The phrase is meant to capture the insight that the act of thinking itself proves the existence of thinking. It is not meant to prove the existence of a physical body or the external world, but only the existence of a mind or a self.
Significance of “Cogito, ergo sum.”
The insight of “Cogito, ergo sum” is significant because it provides a firm foundation for knowledge. Descartes believed that once he had established the existence of the mind or the self, he could then use reason to deduce the existence of the external world and other knowledge. This was a radical departure from the traditional Aristotelian view of knowledge, which relied on sense experience to establish knowledge.
Furthermore, Descartes also believed that the insight of “Cogito, ergo sum” was beyond doubt. He argued that even if an evil demon were deceiving him and making him doubt everything, he could not doubt the fact that he was doubting, and therefore the fact that he existed as a thinking thing.
In addition to that, the insight of “Cogito, ergo sum” also leads to dualism, the idea that the mind and the body are separate entities. Descartes believed that the mind was more certain than the body and that knowledge of the external world was less certain than knowledge of the mind. This has led to debates about the nature of the mind and the relationship between the mind and the body, which continue to this day.
Moreover, The impact of “Cogito, ergo sum” on philosophy and other areas of thought has been significant. It has influenced the development of modern philosophy, including the work of philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, who developed his theory of knowledge based on reason. It has also had an impact on psychology, particularly in the development of theories of consciousness.
Criticisms and counterarguments
Despite its significance, Cogito, ergo sum, has been subject to many criticisms. One of the most common critiques of Descartes’ thought experiment is that it is circular. That is, it assumes the existence of the self in order to prove the existence of the self. Additionally, the concept of the self has been called into question, with some arguing that it is an illusion or a social construct. Moreover, Descartes’ skepticism has been criticized as being overly skeptical. Some have argued that it is not necessary to doubt everything in order to establish a firm foundation for knowledge.
Furthermore, criticism has also been directed at the dualistic implications of “Cogito, ergo sum.” Some have argued that it is not possible to separate the mind and the body and that they are inextricably linked. Others have argued that Descartes’ dualism leads to a “mind-body problem,” where the relationship between the mind and the body is unclear.
Besides, Descartes himself responded to these criticisms in his own work. He argued that his method of doubt was necessary in order to establish a foundation for knowledge that was beyond doubt. He also defended his dualism by arguing that the mind and the body have different natures and that they cannot be reduced to each other.
Relevance of Cogito, ergo sum
Despite its criticisms, Cogito, ergo sum continues to be relevant to modern philosophy. It has been influential in the development of various philosophical fields, including epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind. Additionally, it has had practical applications in fields such as psychology and neuroscience, where it has been used to explore the nature of consciousness and self-awareness.
Furthermore, Descartes’ thought experiment has a significant impact on modern philosophy, particularly in the areas of epistemology and metaphysics. It has been used to explore questions related to the nature of knowledge, the relationship between mind and body, and the existence of the external world. The concept of the self, which was central to Descartes’ argument, continues to be a topic of debate and inquiry in contemporary philosophy.
Moreover, Cogito, ergo sum, is often linked to other philosophical ideas, such as Cartesian dualism and the mind-body problem. The concept of the self has also been explored in relation with other topics, such as personal identity, consciousness, and free will. As such, Cogito, ergo sum, has a significant impact on the development of modern philosophy, and it continues to be a topic of discussion and debate.
Additionally, Cogito, ergo sum, has practical applications in fields such as psychology and neuroscience. It has been used to explore questions related to the nature of consciousness and self-awareness, and it has been used as a foundation for various psychological and neuroscientific theories. For example, the concept of self-reflection has been used to explain the development of self-awareness in infants and young children.
In the critical analysis, Cogito, ergo sum, is a concept that has had a profound impact on the development of modern philosophy. Despite its criticisms, it continues to be relevant to contemporary philosophical inquiry, and it has practical applications in fields such as psychology and neuroscience. While the concept of the self remains a topic of debate and inquiry, Descartes’ thought experiment has provided a foundation for exploring questions related to consciousness, self-awareness, and personal identity.
Conclusively, Cogito, ergo sum highlights the importance of self-awareness, the power of the mind and thinking, and the search for certainty and knowledge. Moreover, though it has been critiqued, it remains an essential concept in philosophical and contemporary thought.
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