Mosaic I (Fall 2009) - Paper #2

Mosaic I - Paper #2

Write a paper on one of the topics below.

Topic #1

In the "Apology," Socrates presents two arguments for why it is not rational to fear death. Explain and evaluate both arguments. (Do not merely present the formalizations on my handout. You need to explain the arguments as clearly as possible and then say where they might go wrong.)

Topic #2

In Act V, Hamlet denies responsibility for Polonius' death, saying that it is not Hamlet but his madness that is responsible. How could this be? Just after Hamlet kills Polonius, he tells his mother that he has only been pretending to be mad. So, is or is not Hamlet insane in the first three acts? Is he confused about his own sanity? (If he was insane, could he be a reliable judge of his own sanity?) Has he merely adopted the trappings and suits of madness, or is he genuinely mad? Ultimately, I'm interested in why Shakespeare presents this puzzle to the reader? What's his point? (You must support your answer with textual evidence. Keep plot summary to an absolute minimum. I recommend that you do not do any research.)

Topic #3

The myth of the taming of fire serves as a metaphor for the central thesis of Civilization and its Discontents. Explain how. What aspects of human suffering does Freud attempt to illuminate with this myth? How does it help us see the inevitability of (at least some degree of) unhappiness for humans living in civilization? Your answer must be supported by textual evidence.

Due Date

12/3 (Thursday)


The paper should be no more than 1,200 words. This is approximately 4 pages double-spaced with Arial 12 point font.


The paper must be typed. It should be double spaced. It should have one inch margins. You should use a 12 point font. I prefer Arial, since it is easy to read. Please follow the general paper and exam instructions under the "course documents / writing" section on Blackboard.


You are required to hand in a paper copy at the start of class on the due date. In addition you must submit the paper through Safe Assign via Blackboard by 11:59 pm on the due date. Safe Assign is a plagiarism detection tool. It will compare your paper against others available online, in journals, submitted in this class, Temple, and from all other universities that use the software.

Note: Plagiarism will result in a failing grade in the class, not just on this assignment. The paper must be the product of your own work. This is not a group exercise.


Your paper should be clearly written, well-structured, and free of grammatical and spelling errors. It is practically impossible to get higher than a C if you start writing the night before the paper is due. The grading scale is as follows:

A = excellent

B = good

C = meets minimal expectations

D = bad

F = awful