Write an essay about philosophy and something from pop culture or the world around you, such as a news story, an experience you’ve had, a movie, a tv show, a song, a book, a website, a social phenomenon, etc. (hereafter, your “example.”) Here are some possible essay topics using movies (just to give you an idea — i.e. you don’t have to pick one of these!): “Plato’s Cave and The Truman Show,” “Nozick’s Experience Machine and The Matrix,” “The Mind/Body Problem and Being John Malkovich,” “Free Will vs. Determinism and Groundhog Day,” “The Teleological Argument for God’s Existence and Bruce Almighty.”

Here are some different options for how to complete this assignment (though you’re not at all required to pick just one or even any of these):

You could compare the ideas of one philosopher or school of philosophy to the philosophy in your example.
You could discuss just your own philosophy on your example.
You could look at how your example challenges, disagrees with or represents an alternative perspective to the ideas of one philosopher or school of philosophy.
You could look at how your example presents, embodies or agrees with a particular philosophical idea, theory or issue.
A combination of two or more of the above, or your own unique approach (e.g. creative non-fiction, etc.)
Whatever approach you take, you must fulfill these requirements:

At least half of your essay should be dedicated to philosophy.
Philosophy needs to be front and center in your essay – i.e. don’t just write a book report or movie review with a pinch of philosophy thrown in at the end.
You only need to summarize enough of your example so that your reader can understand what you’re philosophizing about.
You don’t need to write about the whole book, movie, etc. but could instead just focus on one scene, character, aspect, etc.
You don’t need an explicit or formal thesis statement, but it should be clear what you’re focusing on and what the point of your essay is.
You’re not allowed to cite outside sources (e.g. books, the internet, etc.) since the point of this assignment is for you to do your own philosophizing.
You can (but don’t necessarily have to!) discuss theories, ideas and philosophers that we’ve covered in class, but you must do so in your own unique way (i.e. not just repeat verbatim what is in the textbook or online readings.)
Your essay should be a minimum of 3 typed, double-spaced pages, with normal margins on all sides and using a typical (e.g. Times New Roman, etc.) 12-point font.
Please remember (see your class syllabus if you’ve forgotten) that plagiarizing any part of your paper will automatically result in a grade of ‘F’ for the paper and possibly the class as well.

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