Author Topic: Last course for college -- choosing a thesis topic  (Read 261 times)

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Online pianodwarf

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Last course for college -- choosing a thesis topic
« on: January 05, 2014, 12:51:13 PM »
My last semester of college starts tomorrow and will consist of only one class, called "Liberal Arts Capstone".  The basic idea is that you choose a topic related to your major but that you have not previously investigated in your coursework for your major, then you write a fairly lengthy (minimum 25 pages, or about 6,300 words) paper on that topic.  I'm a philosophy major who put most of his effort into examining the mind/body problem, so I've decided that my topic is going to have something to do with atheism and/or freethought.  Putting this under "Religion and Society" because the paper is almost certainly going to end up falling under that category, regardless of which direction it goes in.

Starting this thread mostly to ask for anyone's thoughts and suggestions.  The topic needs to be narrowed down quite a bit for this purpose, and I'm trying to figure out which way I want to go.  Apologetics and counter apologetics?  Separation of church and state?  Should I go even narrower?  (It would be pretty easy to write 25 pages just on Pascal's Wager, as probably everybody here is well aware.)  Just toss out whatever's on your mind, I'd like this to be kind of a brainstorming thing.

Also, does anyone have any suggestions as to books, web sites, or the like that they've found helpful?  I'm already familiar with most of the more common literature, such as Hitchens, Dawkins, Smith, and Russell, but I'd be interested in hearing about less well-known stuff.  I must also confess that I have never read any Ingersoll, which I suppose I'll need to take care of.

Thanks in advance.
[On how kangaroos could have gotten back to Australia after the flood]:  Don't kangaroos skip along the surface of the water? --Kenn

Offline jdawg70

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Re: Last course for college -- choosing a thesis topic
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2014, 01:03:56 PM »
My last semester of college starts tomorrow and will consist of only one class, called "Liberal Arts Capstone".  The basic idea is that you choose a topic related to your major but that you have not previously investigated in your coursework for your major, then you write a fairly lengthy (minimum 25 pages, or about 6,300 words) paper on that topic.  I'm a philosophy major who put most of his effort into examining the mind/body problem, so I've decided that my topic is going to have something to do with atheism and/or freethought.  Putting this under "Religion and Society" because the paper is almost certainly going to end up falling under that category, regardless of which direction it goes in.

Starting this thread mostly to ask for anyone's thoughts and suggestions.  The topic needs to be narrowed down quite a bit for this purpose, and I'm trying to figure out which way I want to go.  Apologetics and counter apologetics?  Separation of church and state?  Should I go even narrower?  (It would be pretty easy to write 25 pages just on Pascal's Wager, as probably everybody here is well aware.)  Just toss out whatever's on your mind, I'd like this to be kind of a brainstorming thing.

Also, does anyone have any suggestions as to books, web sites, or the like that they've found helpful?  I'm already familiar with most of the more common literature, such as Hitchens, Dawkins, Smith, and Russell, but I'd be interested in hearing about less well-known stuff.  I must also confess that I have never read any Ingersoll, which I suppose I'll need to take care of.

Thanks in advance.
Here's a starting point:

http://lolmythesis.com/search/philosophy
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."
- Eddie Izzard

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[On how kangaroos could have gotten back to Australia after the flood]:  Don't kangaroos skip along the surface of the water? --Kenn

Online Nam

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Re: Last course for college -- choosing a thesis topic
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2014, 01:35:34 PM »
Write one on "The Philosophical Non-Existence of a Guy I Know Named Nam" -- kidding, that's a series of books not a measly 25 pages. How about interconnecting everything you mention above. Yes, each individual subject could stand on their own, and perhaps interconnecting them would only be a synopsis but then again they are connected in one main subject and from a philosophical standpoint that's interesting[1].

There are many good articles (mainly anonymous) on "Making of America" http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/m/moa and http://moa.umdl.umich.edu/ on such subjects but they're primarily early 20th cent. and prior. The amount of information both websites have, even on your subjects, is quite overwhelming but it connects past thoughts to present thoughts, and perhaps future thoughts.

All I got.

-Nam
 1. I hate this word but here it applies
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.

Offline Graybeard

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Re: Last course for college -- choosing a thesis topic
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2014, 02:58:54 PM »
Is there a Q source for human thought?
The relationship between thought and speech.
If Dragons and unicorns are imaginary, how do we distinguish them?
Is there any such thing as a common experience?
Are individual cup-cakes really individuals?

Also: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1563344/Test-your-lateral-thinking-Oxbridge-questions.html
RELIGION, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable. Ambrose Bierce

Offline EV

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Re: Last course for college -- choosing a thesis topic
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2014, 09:10:56 PM »
An interesting topic to explore could be Nihilism and Belief, as the belief that nothing has meaning has a lot of intriguing consequences for religious belief of any kind. Can it be reconciled? Can a world with no intrinsic meaning have a deity with no intrinsic purpose?

I myself, as an existential nihilist, quite enjoy pondering these lines and regularly use them in debates and discussions with theists.

Sounds like a good topic to go for though, philosophy of religion for your Liberal Arts Capstone!

I can recommend a really clear and well=written book on Ethics (Normative Ethics, Practical (or Applied) Ethics, and Metaethics) if you end up going for something along those lines: http://www.amazon.com/Ethics-Noel-Stewart/dp/0745640680/
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"Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative."
- Philosopher John Stuart Mill, from a Parliamentary debate (May 31, 1866);

Offline Boots

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Re: Last course for college -- choosing a thesis topic
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2014, 11:18:53 AM »
I've wanted to put together an essay/paper on "the common problems with religous thought" (things like "desensitization to absurdity," "us vs. them"...) for some time.  maybe something there can light your fire?
* Religion: institutionalized superstition, period.

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