CLEP Humanities : Answering Other Questions About Classical Nonfiction and Philosophy

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for CLEP Humanities

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Answering Other Questions About Classical Nonfiction And Philosophy

The Eastern philosophy developed by the poet Lao Tze is __________.

Possible Answers:

Zen

Shinto

Confucianism

Taoism

Buddhism

Correct answer:

Taoism

Explanation:

The probably apocryphal Lao Tze was the author of the book of poetry the Tao Te Ching, which is the foundational text for the philosophy known as Taoism. While many passages are ambiguous and worded in an unusual way, the philosophy largely argues for allowing the "Tao," a spiritual force, to flow through a human's life. The book heavily influenced later Chinese thought, such as Confucianism and Chan Buddhism.

Example Question #2 : Answering Other Questions About Classical Nonfiction And Philosophy

Which Greek philosopher wrote the work of dramatic and artistic theory known in English as the Poetics?

Possible Answers:

Epicurus

Plato

Aristotle

Hippocrates

Socrates

Correct answer:

Aristotle

Explanation:

The Poetics were the first comprehensive approach to defining the key elements and requirements of the dramatic form. Tellingly, its author, Aristotle, was a great philosopher, rather than a great playwright or poet. The work features Aristotle's deep, systematic thinking, applied specifically to what is widely considered the "poetic arts," including lyric poetry, epic poetry, tragedy, comedy, and the satyr play.

Example Question #3 : Answering Other Questions About Classical Nonfiction And Philosophy

Who of the following was the teacher of Aristotle?

Possible Answers:

Xanthippes

Marcus Aurelius

Socrates

Parmenides

Plato

Correct answer:

Plato

Explanation:

The great Aristotle was the student of an equally great philosopher, namely Plato. Indeed, Aristotle spent 20 years at Plato's Academy! He didn't do this merely because he was a slouch who didn't want to get a job. Instead, during this many years of learning, Aristotle imbibed much of Plato's thought. His later writings would in many ways temper and limit the excesses of his master. Nevertheless, when one reads Aristotle, one can sense the discussions of the Academy as being directly behind the scenes of Aristotle's own concerns.

Example Question #4 : Answering Other Questions About Classical Nonfiction And Philosophy

Who of the following is known for his Confessions?

Possible Answers:

Sextus Empiricus

Marcus Aurelius

Boethius

Ambrose of Milan

Augustine of Hippo

Correct answer:

Augustine of Hippo

Explanation:

Augustine of Hippo (354-430) has probably had more influence on Western society than almost any other person in all of history. This is almost certain when we limit ourselves to authors of Latin texts. After many years as a successful rhetorician (living a dissipate lifestyle), Augustine converted to Christianity. He was soon the Bishop of Hippo and became a prolific writer. His thought would influence Western Christianity throughout all of the Middle Ages and would be an important touch point throughout numerous reformations and revolutions within Western Christendom down to the present day. Indeed, during the Middle Ages, for example, there were two great authorities—the Greek man, Aristotle, and Augustine.

In the Confessions, Augustine tells the tale of his conversion—giving a long history of his life as well as his beliefs. This text is amazing for its personal depth and is a unique testimony of someone's psyche during the period of late antiquity.

Example Question #5 : Answering Other Questions About Classical Nonfiction And Philosophy

How do we know of Socrates?

Possible Answers:

From his letters

From the myths of Greek culture

From the dialogues of Plato

From his treatises

From medieval citations of his works

Correct answer:

From his letters

Explanation:

Interestingly, one of the great founders of philosophy did not actually write anything that we know of. Almost all that we know of him comes from the reports we have received from Plato as well as the play Clouds by Aristophanes. The bulk of the material, in any case, comes from Plato. In his dialogues, Plato portrays Socrates as discussing philosophical matters with various Athenians. Likely, Plato puts some of his own positions on the lips of Socrates. Nevertheless, if we want to puzzle out just what was the "philosophy of Socrates" our only real source can be found in Plato's dialogues.

Example Question #5 : Answering Other Questions About Classical Nonfiction And Philosophy

In general, with what were the so-called "Pre-Socratics" interested?

Possible Answers:

Natural philosophy

Social Philosophy

Ethics

Logic

Social Construction

Correct answer:

Natural philosophy

Explanation:

The Pre-Socratics are so named merely because of their place in history. They came before Socrates. Socrates is like a "dividing line" for Greek philosophical history! In any case, the Pre-Socratics like Thales and Anaxagoras were interested in the basic elements from which all things were made and how those elements became what we know of in our experience. Other thinkers like Heraclitus and Parmenides were interested in more esoteric questions about being and non-being. In some ways, these thinkers were interested in "metaphysics"—especially Parmenides and Heraclitus. More broadly, the group was interested in cosmology or the way the world is to be understood philosophically. Hence, the best overall category for them is that of "natural philosophy", understanding that all of these terms were coined after the time of the pre-Socratics. With Socrates, philosophy took on a very human-centered and ethical set of concerns.

Example Question #6 : Answering Other Questions About Classical Nonfiction And Philosophy

Who was Origen?

Possible Answers:

A sage who was influential on Plato

A Greek statesman in the works of Herodotus

An Athenian noble in the dialogues of Plato

A Neo-Platonic, Christian philosopher and theologian

A late emperor of the Roman empire

Correct answer:

A Neo-Platonic, Christian philosopher and theologian

Explanation:

Origen was one of the early Christian "fathers" in Egypt in the third century AD. He was heavily influenced by Neo-Platonic philosophy, and some of his views ended with him being condemned. He wrote extensively on the Hebrew and Christian scriptures with great critical skills for his times. He remained an influential figure on the Egyptian monastic movement and, today, is held in esteem by contemporary Christians, even if he is not accorded the status of being a "Saint."

Example Question #8 : Answering Other Questions About Classical Nonfiction And Philosophy

Which of the following philosophers was a defender of Parmenides and proposed the paradoxical idea that if one runner starts out before another, the latter will never catch up to the former, even if the former is running more slowly?

Possible Answers:

Heraclitus

Marcus Aurelius

Plato

Zeno of Elea

Socrates

Correct answer:

Zeno of Elea

Explanation:

This question is referring to the famous paradox of Zeno, often called the "Paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise." The idea is that if the turtle is in front of the runner, there will be an infinite number of points through which the runner will have to pass in order to reach the Tortoise. No matter how fast Achilles runs, this infinite number of points will take an infinite amount of time for him to pass through. Thus, he will never arrive at the Tortoise.

This problem seems strange (and perhaps just idiotic), but it comes down to a confusion that one must be careful not to make. Between two points in space, there are potentially an infinite number of points if we keep dividing that space (considered mathematically, at least). Actually, however, there are not an infinite amount. At least, this is how a follower of Aristotle would answer Zeno. This paradox was just one of many that Zeno used to defend Parmenides.

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