Midterm Review Questions

The midterm examination will be held two days before session #12, in class. The format will be closed-book and closed-notes, with a variety of types of questions, including some terms to identify and some short answer questions. The following list of questions should help you prepare for the exam. Your grade on the midterm will contribute 20% of your final course grade.

  1. What were the four main schools of Presocratic thought which we studied? What were their chief natural-philosophical concerns? What were some differences between their philosophical programs?
  2. Compare and contrast Plato's and Aristotle's frameworks for physics and cosmology. Pay special attention to their notions of "form" and the role of mathematics, reason, and empirical observation in their programs. What are some specific examples from Plato's and Aristotle's works which you can use to bolster your claims?
  3. Evaluate the claim: "Aristotle was first and foremost a biologist. Only by understanding his biological work can we make sense of his other natural-philosophical writings." Can you relate themes within the Hippocratic and Galenic traditions to Aristotelian biology? In what ways did Galen break with earlier medical scholars?
  4. What were Ptolemy's "three e's"? What were some of the earlier natural-philosophical traditions upon which Ptolemy drew for his astronomical work? Give two specific examples of how later scholars interpreted Ptolemy's Almagest.
  5. Discuss some of the ways in which the Catholic Church interacted with Aristotelianism during the Middle Ages.
  6. Evaluate the claim: "The Middle Ages, from the 8th century AD through the 13 century AD, was a period of scientific and technological decline. It has justly been named the 'Dark Ages.'"
  7. Discuss at least two examples, based on the materials we have covered so far, of the "appropriation" of previous natural-philosophical knowledge within various contexts. How does the term "appropriation" extend earlier historical analyses which had focused more directly upon "translation"?
  8. Discuss three different institutional settings in which natural philosophy had been fostered, and analyze what effects, if any, the institutional context might have had on the form or content of those philosophical programs.