You are to write a paper of approximately 1000 words on the topic below. It should have a title page on which you list a descriptive title (not, e.g., “Paper 1”), your name, your student number, your tutorial section number, and your TA’s name.
Your paper must also include an abstract. This is a short (less than 50 word) summary that states your thesis and the rough structure of your paper. You should assume that your reader has not read your abstract when s/he reads the body of your essay. You may use lines directly from your abstract in your introduction or elsewhere. (The word count from your abstract is not part of the roughly 1000 words.)
Outside sources and citations:
I urge you not to use any outside sources, but I do not forbid it. However, if you do use outside sources, be sure to cite them properly. Be sure that you have read and understood everything on our “Avoiding Academic Dishonesty” page and the pages linked to it, and that you have done and understood the library tutorial also linked to it. It is your responsibility to avoid plagiarism. As you will see from reading the relevant material, the standard penalty for a case of plagiarism is zero on the assignment in question. If you have any questions, now is the time to ask them. Ignorance of the regulations and how to comply with them will be no defence. (If you use material from lecture, it should be in paraphrase, and it should be cited. If your indebtedness is rather vague, you may, in this case, cite it in just general terms. I.e., just acknowledge once that you are drawing on material from lecture, either in a footnote or in parentheses. But be sure that you are not just parroting lecture!)
I do not care what style of citation you use, except that all the information to find the item must be provided, including page number for paper sources, and you should be consistent. (If your TA has a preferred style, use it.)
In Meditation III, Descartes offers an argument for God’s existence, using as a premise that he (Descartes) has an idea of God. One might wonder whether such an argument would apply in the case of others of Descartes’ ideas. E.g., would Descartes think that his having an idea of the Evil Demon proves that the Evil Demon exists? This is the question you are to answer in your essay. And you are to explain and defend your answer. In the course of your essay, you should address the following: why did Descartes think that his having an idea of God proves God exists? What, according to Descartes, is the source of his idea of God? How does the idea of the Evil Demon differ from the idea of God? What, in keeping with Descartes’ position, is or could be the source of his idea of the Evil Demon?
You must have a thesis (exactly one of: Descartes would think that his having an idea of the Evil Demon proves that the Evil Demon exists or Descartes would not think that his having an idea of the Evil Demon proves that the Evil Demon exists, though you don’t need to use those exact words). You must defend your thesis and tie your interpretation of Descartes to the text. You should assume your reader is an intelligent person but who has little knowledge of Descartes’ views.
What is important is not which thesis you adopt, but the strength of the case you make for it, including your use of textual evidence. There will be good papers whose conclusions are contradictories.
Finally, your first version should be a good as you can possibly make it. The feedback you will get will be more useful that way. The grade you will receive reflects the combined package of first version and revision.