Essay Question: Two of the following three essay topics will be on the final. You will be required to write an essay on one of the two.
In the essay “The Present Dilemma in Philosophy,” James discusses some of the most important debates in philosophy. In “What Pragmatism Means” James begins to sketch how to resolve the present dilemma. The example of the squirrel on the tree is brought in to help clarify. Discuss the dilemma (or debates) in philosophy, and then show how James’s version of pragmatism, what he will also call radical empiricism addresses and resolves this dilemma.
Wilfrid Sellars’ book Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind offers one of the most important criticisms of empiricism, which is more generally known as the critique of the myth of the given. In this essay summarize both the sense-datum theories that are the object of Sellars’ critique and discuss the arguments Sellars offers to explain the appeal of the myth of the given and how he believes we should understand what is going on in the mind.
Rorty claims that there were three primary influences to his understanding of philosophy, or to his version of pragmatism. They are John Dewey, Martin Heidegger, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Discuss the influence two of these three philosophers had on Rorty’s thought and compare what Rorty does with their thought to either James’s or Peirce’s version of pragmatism.