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Quiz about A Momentary Lapse Of Reason
Quiz about A Momentary Lapse Of Reason

A Momentary Lapse Of Reason Trivia Quiz


Alexander is studying for the final exam in his Introduction to Western Philosophy course - but, for every school of thought, there's one thing he just can't get right. Help him fix these lapses and pass the class!

A multiple-choice quiz by CellarDoor. Estimated time: 8 mins.
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Author
CellarDoor
Time
8 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
344,639
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
1357
Awards
Top 10% Quiz
Last 3 plays: Guest 69 (9/10), Guest 81 (10/10), Guest 97 (4/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. Fittingly, our student hero has begun his notes with the foundations and methods of western philosophy. He's written, "The Greeks realized that moral questions can be studied and argued systematically. With the Socratic Method, students explored these issues through debates, each one giving a speech in support of a different view." Something isn't quite right here. What was Alexander's momentary lapse? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. On to Plato! Here's Alexander's writeup of the Greek philosopher's Theory of Forms: "Plato argued that the essential Forms of things are eternal and unchangeable, and must not be confused with the forms we perceive through our senses. He used the Allegory of the Cave, in which prisoners mistake the echoes of birdsong for the birds themselves, to explain the difference." Tell us how Alexander's description lapses. Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. Flipping through his study guide, Alexander hands you his materials on Christian philosophy. "Thomism," he's written, "was a major underpinning to medieval and modern Roman Catholic theology. First laid out by the apostle St. Thomas - widely known as Doubting Thomas - it separates the essence of something from its accidence. Thomism teaches that we can know the world as it really is. The philosophy owes a great deal to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle." Where does this description lapse? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. "Immanuel Kant was a crucial figure in the Enlightenment. He united reason and observation in his masterpiece, `Critique of Pure Intuition,' and taught that morality was based on duty." Well, Alexander's write-up is mostly right. Which of the following identifies his lapse? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. Alexander's study guide to utilitarianism leaves something to be desired. Here's a part of the description he's written: "Utilitarianism is a consequentialist theory. According to the rule set down by Jeremy Bentham, the most moral act is the one that will result in the greatest material wealth for the largest number of people. Later utilitarians have modified this rule to take greater account of personal rights." Where is the lapse in this description? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. You spot a gap in Alexander's notes on 19th-century philosophy and ask him about Henry David Thoreau. "Thoreau," he tells you, "helped found Transcendentalism, which was a purely English movement. They believed that people and the natural world were inherently good, and that a moral person should be self-reliant. Hmm - I'm not sure that's all right." Indeed it isn't. Find the lapse of reason. Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. Here's a neat Nietzsche paragraph: "Friedrich Nietzsche was a revolutionary philosopher in the late 19th century. His thoughts contributed to existentialism, post-modernism, and nihilism. He posited that people are motivated by a desire for more power. Famously arguing, `God lives!', Nietzsche laid out a strong case for constructing a new morality in an age of science and technology." All right, maybe this isn't quite so neat. What's the lapse in this description? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. Alexander gestures to a trash can filled with crumpled-up sheets of paper. "I know this writeup on existentialism is lacking, but I just can't find the mistake," he says. You uncrumple a page and read it: "Existentialism was a 19th- and 20th-century movement that placed the individual at the center of philosophy and ethics. Classic existential works by such writers as Sartre and Camus supported this idea by presenting well-adjusted individuals in perfect harmony with their world." Which of these identifies the lapse? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. "Objectivism," Alexander's study guide tells you, "is a twentieth-century movement saying that knowledge should come from objective observation of reality. Philosophers like Ayn Rand fiercely attacked it for its `selfish' advocacy of rational self-interest." There's a rather major lapse in this description of Objectivist reason. What is it? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. There's just one more page in Alexander's study guide. "After World War II," it reads, "the post-modernist movement rejected the idea that there is an objective reality that humans can discern. Post-modernists are suspicious of `grand narratives' and of the idea that there is some unique human essence. The movement has been strictly limited to philosophers, however, and these ideas have seen no spillover into western culture." This last lapse is a humdinger! What is it? Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Fittingly, our student hero has begun his notes with the foundations and methods of western philosophy. He's written, "The Greeks realized that moral questions can be studied and argued systematically. With the Socratic Method, students explored these issues through debates, each one giving a speech in support of a different view." Something isn't quite right here. What was Alexander's momentary lapse?

Answer: The Socratic Method solves problems through asking questions, not through debate.

The Socratic Method is named for Socrates, the ancient Greek (circa 469 - 399 BC) who popularized it. In this system, an inquiry into an issue is quite literal: you inquire by asking questions. By systematically breaking the problem into small parts, and considering the answer to each, a student of this method hopes to achieve both a satisfactory answer and a deep understanding of the issues. The teacher, meanwhile, doesn't answer questions, but poses them. In providing a systematic way of comparing ideas to each other, the Socratic method is often seen as one of the foundations of modern philosophy.

A proper debate should cover all sides of a disagreement. This is why modern debate clubs often stage their events around a single resolution (for example, "Resolved: That all FunTrivia quizzes should be played solely in Flash format"), setting one side the task of arguing for it and the other the task of arguing against. It's common to let each side have extended opening and closing remarks, bracketing back-and-forth arguments. Sound bites, food for TV news, are a very recent development.
2. On to Plato! Here's Alexander's writeup of the Greek philosopher's Theory of Forms: "Plato argued that the essential Forms of things are eternal and unchangeable, and must not be confused with the forms we perceive through our senses. He used the Allegory of the Cave, in which prisoners mistake the echoes of birdsong for the birds themselves, to explain the difference." Tell us how Alexander's description lapses.

Answer: In the Allegory of the Cave, the prisoners mistake shadows for the real objects.

Plato asked his readers to imagine a cave where several prisoners have spent their lives chained so that they face a blank wall. Behind them is a fire. When things move between the prisoners and the fire, the prisoners see the shadows on the wall, and they discuss this shadow puppetry among themselves. To them, though, the shadow of a person is really a person, and the shadow of a book really is a book - they have no idea that what they are seeing isn't representative of the true nature of those things.

In the same way, Plato argues, our senses give us only a poor outline of the true Forms that are the essence of all things. If things appear to change, that's an accident of our perception; the Form itself is perfect and unchanging.
3. Flipping through his study guide, Alexander hands you his materials on Christian philosophy. "Thomism," he's written, "was a major underpinning to medieval and modern Roman Catholic theology. First laid out by the apostle St. Thomas - widely known as Doubting Thomas - it separates the essence of something from its accidence. Thomism teaches that we can know the world as it really is. The philosophy owes a great deal to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle." Where does this description lapse?

Answer: The St. Thomas who founded Thomism was the medieval thinker Thomas Aquinas, not Doubting Thomas.

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was a Dominican priest and academic whose philosophical masterpiece, "Summa Theologica," was sadly unfinished at the time of his death. Aquinas held great respect for Aristotle in particular, as well as for philosophers and thinkers from a wide variety of traditions; as a realist, he believed that mankind could know a great deal about the world without divine guidance, and Catholics therefore had no monopoly on truths. Taking faith and reason as two complementary sources of knowledge, he taught that the essence of a thing or person was different from its accidents, its peripheral, non-fundamental aspects. The only exception to this rule is God: in Aquinas's view, God has no accidents, only existence and essence.

While it initially met with some resistance, Thomism has been hugely influential in Christian thought for more than 700 years. The Catholic Church named Aquinas a Doctor of the Church for his contributions, and he is also honored by Anglicans and by Lutherans.
4. "Immanuel Kant was a crucial figure in the Enlightenment. He united reason and observation in his masterpiece, `Critique of Pure Intuition,' and taught that morality was based on duty." Well, Alexander's write-up is mostly right. Which of the following identifies his lapse?

Answer: Kant's masterpiece was actually titled "Critique of Pure Reason."

Kant (1724 - 1804) was active at the end of the Enlightenment period, and his views are still highly influential today. He formulated questions of morality in terms of duty: every action, in this view, is undertaken because of some underlying principle that imposes a duty. For example, in writing this quiz, I'd be obeying a maxim like "In order to spread knowledge about philosophy while contributing to your favorite trivia site, you must write philosophical quizzes!" If I believe that maxim, and I believe that spreading knowledge about philosophy and contributing to my favorite trivia site are worthwhile goals, then I have a moral duty to write this quiz. Ultimate morality is encoded in the Categorical Imperative, which says, roughly, that you should act in accordance with a maxim only when you also genuinely believe that everybody should.

"Critique of Pure Reason," first published in 1781, treats a different topic. For centuries, western philosophers had argued that reason alone, without any help from experience, was enough to gain knowledge about the workings of the world, the nature of justice, and other important questions. Kant argued that reality is unavoidably filtered through the minds of observers - that is, what we perceive as reality is partly just the form that our minds give to our observations. Reason and experience must be combined in order to develop and understand knowledge, and the knower must be at the center of philosophical inquiry. This was a revolution in philosophy.
5. Alexander's study guide to utilitarianism leaves something to be desired. Here's a part of the description he's written: "Utilitarianism is a consequentialist theory. According to the rule set down by Jeremy Bentham, the most moral act is the one that will result in the greatest material wealth for the largest number of people. Later utilitarians have modified this rule to take greater account of personal rights." Where is the lapse in this description?

Answer: Bentham's most moral act is supposed to maximize happiness, not necessarily material wealth.

Utilitarianism is a consequentialist philosophy because it judges actions strictly by their consequences, not on, say, the virtues of the person who is performing the act. In Jeremy Bentham's famous 1822 formulation, the best action increases the collective happiness of the largest number of people, where happiness is generally understood to be increased by pleasure and decreased by pain. Other flavors of utilitarianism maximize slightly different things, like the stability of society (state consequentialism) or the fulfillment of choices (preference utilitarianism).

However, this seemingly simple system can lead to dilemmas, since it implies that the ends justify the means. To provide "the greatest happiness for the greatest number" may require some ugly acts, such as the execution of an innocent person; the classic example is the question of whether to throw someone into the path of a train in order to save the lives of five people stranded further down the tracks. After Bentham, many utilitarians hoped to fix this problem by various means. For example, negative utilitarians seek not to maximize happiness, but to minimize suffering; others emphasize that happiness is increased by the very existence of recognized and respected human rights.

Kant was not a utilitarian at all. He evaluated actions based on their alignment with the categorical imperative, arguing that their morality didn't depend on context but on their intrinsic nature.
6. You spot a gap in Alexander's notes on 19th-century philosophy and ask him about Henry David Thoreau. "Thoreau," he tells you, "helped found Transcendentalism, which was a purely English movement. They believed that people and the natural world were inherently good, and that a moral person should be self-reliant. Hmm - I'm not sure that's all right." Indeed it isn't. Find the lapse of reason.

Answer: Transcendentalism developed in New England, not in England.

Thoreau and the other transcendentalists (like Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson) came almost exclusively from New England. Boston, Massachusetts, and the nearby Harvard University were centers of the movement, which got its name from its focus on the human spirit rather than on experiences or on tangible things. Working primarily in the 1830s and 1840s, transcendentalists advocated separation from the institutions of society - like politics and churches - in order to restore one's purity and achieve a true community of independent souls. Thoreau's 1854 book "Walden" is still a classic exploration of self-imposed exile and communion with nature.
7. Here's a neat Nietzsche paragraph: "Friedrich Nietzsche was a revolutionary philosopher in the late 19th century. His thoughts contributed to existentialism, post-modernism, and nihilism. He posited that people are motivated by a desire for more power. Famously arguing, `God lives!', Nietzsche laid out a strong case for constructing a new morality in an age of science and technology." All right, maybe this isn't quite so neat. What's the lapse in this description?

Answer: Nietzsche's famous assertion was not that God lives, but that "God is dead."

"God is dead," Nietzsche (1844-1900) argued in several of his writings, presenting it as a consequence of technological progress. Here's how he put it in "The Gay Science" (1882): "God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?..." However, this is almost certainly not meant literally, and, despite the criticism of some of Nietzsche's contemporaries, may not even be a statement of atheism. Alternate interpretations include the decline of Christian faith in the West, or a systematic shift away from Christian morality. Nietzsche argued that Christian morality could and should be replaced by a new system constructed explicitly by and for humanity. Respecting what he believed was humans' driving force - their "will to power" - he wrote that this new morality consisted of living one's life to the truest and fullest, so that one would not be dismayed to live that life over again.
8. Alexander gestures to a trash can filled with crumpled-up sheets of paper. "I know this writeup on existentialism is lacking, but I just can't find the mistake," he says. You uncrumple a page and read it: "Existentialism was a 19th- and 20th-century movement that placed the individual at the center of philosophy and ethics. Classic existential works by such writers as Sartre and Camus supported this idea by presenting well-adjusted individuals in perfect harmony with their world." Which of these identifies the lapse?

Answer: Existential literature usually involves a confused individual caught up in an absurd world.

The movement takes its name from its focus on centering and describing human existence. In the famous phrase of Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), "existence precedes essence": that is, each human being develops his or her own identity in the process of existing. Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) expressed this idea in another way: "One is not born a woman, but becomes one."

Sartre and Albert Camus (1913-1960) wrote a number of plays and novels that presented aspects of existentialist thought to a popular audience. Works like Camus's "The Stranger" gave the world disoriented protagonists in a meaningless society, eventually realizing that they alone were responsible for defining their lives.
9. "Objectivism," Alexander's study guide tells you, "is a twentieth-century movement saying that knowledge should come from objective observation of reality. Philosophers like Ayn Rand fiercely attacked it for its `selfish' advocacy of rational self-interest." There's a rather major lapse in this description of Objectivist reason. What is it?

Answer: Ayn Rand founded Objectivism.

Ayn Rand (1905-1982) founded the objectivist movement nearly singlehandedly, promoting her ideas through her writing. Two novels - 1943's "The Fountainhead" and 1957's "Atlas Shrugged" - laid out her case for "the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute." (The phrasing comes from her afterword to "Atlas Shrugged.") Objectivists promote laissez-faire capitalism as the only system that gives full rein to individual rights, and oppose any attempt to assign people responsibility for others (e.g. volunteer requirements for high school graduation). Objectivism is not widely taught in schools of philosophy, but has had a profound impact on politics in the U.S.
10. There's just one more page in Alexander's study guide. "After World War II," it reads, "the post-modernist movement rejected the idea that there is an objective reality that humans can discern. Post-modernists are suspicious of `grand narratives' and of the idea that there is some unique human essence. The movement has been strictly limited to philosophers, however, and these ideas have seen no spillover into western culture." This last lapse is a humdinger! What is it?

Answer: Post-modern ideas can be found all over the wider culture, from literature to film.

From the novels of Kurt Vonnegut to the films of Quentin Tarantino, popular western culture is full of post-modern ideas and approaches, often emphasizing the artificiality of the world or of society and the absence of universal truths. Instead, post-modernists feel that truth is defined by individual communities, which also develop their own narratives to explain reality as they perceive it. No one group's truth is more accurate than that of another group. Nothing is well-defined in post-modernism, not even the self.

Instead, each person is understood to incorporate many selves, each constructed by a different aspect of society, in an echo of Walt Whitman's statement that "I am large, I contain multitudes."
Source: Author CellarDoor

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor looney_tunes before going online.
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