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PAPER PROMPT II FOR FINAL ESSAY FOR 202
TOLSTOY AND WEBER ON THE MEANING FOR LIFE FOR THE MODERN MAN
Weber finds that modern science produces “the disenchantment of the world” as explained on pages
12-13, through its rational and calculative method. Weber then starts to worry that some may be
bothered that there is no longer any meaning in science. He then remarks that others, such as Tolstoy,
worry whether death, or life itself, have any meaning for civilized man today. Weber gives Tolstoy’s
reasoning on page 13. Is this Tolstoy’s reason? If so, why, how? Abraham’s life had meaning, how, why?
Yet this is no longer true for modern civilized man, who can often be “tired of life”, but not fulfilled by it
(p.13). Weber also contrasts this view of the meaning of life with Plato’s view on pages 13-14. Why is
Plato’s view of life one that has meaning, how does Plato find meaning in a life well lived?
Weber recapitulates his confrontation with Tolstoy on page 17. “Science is meaningless because it has
no answer to the only questions that matter to us: What should we do? How should we live?” Does the
fact/ value distinction Weber remarks on have any bearing on this issue? Does the return to a mode of
value “polytheism of values”, or what he labels “the warring gods” (27-30) have any bearing on this
issue of meaning for Weber?
You may or may not present the views of Weber in your essay. You should present how Tolstoy presents
the meaning of life in the story of Ivan’s life and death. In particular, show how Ivan finds his answer
through his conversation with “the voice of his soul” on pages 83-91.
Your task is to formulate a question from these texts and then answer that question. Present your
answer as a thesis statement and provide evidence and reasons for your answer. You may provide your
own answers, but be sure to also provide the response that Tolstoy includes in his story of Ivan’s life and
death.
THE FINAL ESSAY FOR PHIL 202 DUE MAY 5TH
The topics for the paper, if you choose to write on Frankfurt’s The Reasons of Love are listed below.
Choose one essay topic. All the questions are to be answered from a close reading and explication of
Harry Frankfurt’s Reasons of Love.
There is another prompt for essays dealing with other readings we have covered in 202, also found in
BB.
TOPIC ONE: For our author, what is love? (p. 41f, see also p. 79f). What is the role of love in the life of a
person? What is “care” and what is its relationship to love? What does he means by “reasons of love”?
OR
TOPIC TWO: Why does our author argue that ‘right-thinking people’ are in error when they suppose
“that anyone ought to do better with his love than turn it upon himself”? (p. 68). What is at stake for
one’s way of living a human life in this argument concerning self-love and the love of another? How
does his way of presenting self-love differ from what the ‘right-thinking people’ present about self-love?
Is he correct when he states: “To be wholehearted is to love oneself”? (p. 95)
OR
TOPIC THREE: In Chapter one, section 8, our author develops his argument for his definition of human
freedom. Under what condition can a human enjoy “as much freedom as it is reasonable for us to
desire”? (p. 20). What is this freedom for Frankfurt and how does it compare, and contrast, with the
understanding of human freedom we find in the text of Locke or in that of Rousseau?

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