First Exam
Potential Essay Questions

Two of the following questions will appear on the exam. You will be asked to write on one of the two. (In addition to the essay questions, there will be multiple choice questions which can be drawn from any source in the course to date.) In your essays, you will be expected (1) to isolate key themes and concepts, (2) to explain those themes and concepts with clarity and precision, and (3) to provide specific examples to reinforce and prove your general points.

1. Explain the goals and beliefs of Renaissance humanists, giving consideration to their objectives, their ideals, and their assumptions about human nature. You should include a discussion of Vergerius's educational philosophy, Pico's vision of human nature, and Machiavelli's political theory. Was Machiavelli a humanist? In what ways are his views similar or different from other humanists?

2. What were the origins of the Reformation? In what ways did Luther and Calvin's views of salvation and the church depart from the views of the Medieval Church?

3. Synthesize the major patterns of European imperialism between 1400 and 1750, giving consideration to (1) how and why Europe expanded and (2) the impact that Europe had on the other civilizations of the world. In what ways were the North American British colonies similar to and different from Britain?

4. Reconstruct the argument of John Locke's Second Treatise. You should give consideration to Locke's view of the state of nature, Law of Nature, social contract, and the resulting relationship between government and people.

5. Compare the ancient and medieval cosmos and scientific method with Isaac Newton's cosmos and scientific method. What were the scientific or physical problems posed by Copernicus's heliocentric theory and in what ways did Newton's laws of motion solve those problems? How did Galileo seek to reconcile the new science and Christianity?

6. Explain the ideals, assumptions, and goals of the philosophes of the Enlightenment, giving consideration to their views of religion, human nature, society, and government. In what ways did the philosophes build upon the ideas of their predecessors (e.g. humanists, religious reformers, scientists) and in what ways did they depart from their predecesors? You should include a consideration of Hume's argument concerning miracles (and revealed religion) and Smith's arguments about political economy.

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