CLEP Humanities : Analyzing the Content of Classical Nonfiction and Philosophy

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for CLEP Humanities

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Analyzing The Content Of Classical Nonfiction And Philosophy

Epicureanism was a classical philosophical school defined by __________.

Possible Answers:

a desire to become as unemotional as possible

an advancement of pure logic in finding philosophical answers

a focus on pleasure as the best source of a positive life

a view of life that is hopeless and despairing

a rejection of all worldly pleasures

Correct answer:

a focus on pleasure as the best source of a positive life

Explanation:

Epicureanism takes its name from Epicurus, the Greek philosopher from the third and fourth centuries BCE, who argued for "pleasure" as the goal for all human beings to reach transcendence. Epicurus did not strictly advocate seeking unadorned hedonism, but instead saw "pleasure" as best achieved through a moderate approach to life. Epicureanism was very popular in Classical Antiquity, but died out after the rise of Neo-Platonic and Christian thought in the third and fourth centuries CE.

Example Question #2 : Analyzing The Content Of Classical Nonfiction And Philosophy

Which of the following figures most directly pertains to Mt. Sinai?

Possible Answers:

Socrates

William Wallace

Milton

Martin Buber

Moses

Correct answer:

Moses

Explanation:

In the Bible, the books of Exodus through Deuteronomy tell of the departure of the Hebrew people from Egypt. The classic moment in this sojourn is their time at Mount Sinai. This is where the so-called Ten Commandments were said to be presented by God to Moses. Whatever might be the historical accuracy of this overall tale, this is an important fact to know, as the experience of the Hebrew people in the desert was pivotal for their self-identity. This would remain a continuing motif throughout their scriptures as well as in the Christian scriptures as well, which would present Jesus as a kind of second Moses.

Example Question #3 : Analyzing The Content Of Classical Nonfiction And Philosophy

For what is Thales most famous?

Possible Answers:

Sentencing Socrates to death

Writing a lengthy treatise on the philosophy of nature

Discussing logic in Athens

Disputing with Plato

Falling into a well

Correct answer:

Falling into a well

Explanation:

To most people, Thales is known for two things. On the one hand, he is known for his position that all things are made up of water. This thesis was an honest attempt to explain experience by experience alone. Water is involved in many things and processes, so it seemed to him to be a good candidate for what makes up everything in the world—letting one thing change into another.

He is also known for the story of how he was laughed at when he fell into a well. He is presented like this in the Theaetetus of Plato. This makes him seem like an airy philosopher, who was staring at the stars without any awareness of his surroundings—"with his head in the clouds." In his Politics, Aristotle does tell at tale about how Thales put his knowledge to use to make a profit, so as to prove to the unbelieving that philosophy can be useful if need be. Be that as it may, the story from the Theaetetus is perhaps the best known story about Thales.

Example Question #4 : Analyzing The Content Of Classical Nonfiction And Philosophy

What is the famous allegory found in Plato's Republic, telling a story about the nature of education?

Possible Answers:

The Allegory of the Soul

The Allegory of the Race

The Allegory of the Turtle

The Allegory of the Cave

The Allegory of the Book

Correct answer:

The Allegory of the Cave

Explanation:

In the course of the discussions of the Republic, Plato uses the Allegory of the Cave to explain the nature of education (at least as he believes it is). The general idea is that education is a matter of conversion, turning the soul from false images to the actual reality of the truth. The Allegory tells the tale of prisoners, locked up in an underground cave, unable to move their heads, looking at shadows projected on the wall by others. They learn how to guess about the shadows but never even realize that they are just the projections of objects on sticks. 

Then, someone (i.e. a philosopher) comes along and turns a prisoner around, taking of his shackles. Forcefully, the philosopher shows that person that he has not been experiencing reality but instead has only been looking at shadows. He drags that person out of the cave so as show him what things really are. (Hence, the Allegory proposes that the philosopher teaches him about the way to see the ultimate truths of reality.)

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