Philosophy Final Exam 2

Final Exam Study Guide

Academic Conduct: Use your own words, keep your eyes on your own work, and be sure to avoid even any behavior or work that might look like cheating or plagiarism. Cite any sources fully, whether you are quoting or paraphrasing or simply borrowing a general idea from a source.

That may be a source in one of our readings, or one located on the internet, or that you have borrowed from a classmate – any idea that comes from a source outside your own head must be fully cited. Failure to give appropriate credit (even by accident, such as from working too quickly and forgetting to put source information into your paper) is considered plagiarism by academic conduct policies. Any academic misconduct may result in a “0” for the exam and/or an “F” for the course.


Strive for excellent writing, clear expression of ideas, strong explanations, insight, and good grasp of the meaning of the videos and text. Remember that the essay grades are based on the quality of writing as well as the “content.”


As with your exams, pretend that your reader will be someone pretty unfamiliar with the interviewees and concepts involved. Don’t assume that they will know the “jargon,” explain things fully.


Remember that you need not agree with the text and interviewers. Your job is to engage sympathetically to grasp their ideas, reasoning, and visions on their own terms, and to enter into conversation with the text, stating your own positions and reasoning for them. As the required components guide below notes, you also must do another thing – consider a potential objection to your view and respond to it with fresh ideas.


Note: in Exam 2, the questions called on you to summarize main points from the author/interviewee’s stories and thinking. In this final exam, you must go beyond this summary of their ideas and story, to synthesize and relate across these stories – explaining the meaning and/or themes occurring.


Some of these final exam topics relate to the 5-page essay topics. It is ok if you write on something you wrote your essay about it, but don’t just re-state the exact same points.


  1. Choose Amína Mama, Aída Hernández-Castillo, Zillah Eisenstein, or Taveeshi Singh) of the last four feminist scholar-activists featured at the end of Feminist Freedom Warriors, name the person and explain the following:
  • how/why each sees critiques of racism, capitalism, imperialism, homophobia, transphobia (whichever each focuses upon) as crucial to feminism (I’ll call it coalitional, deeply intersectional feminism).
  • how each imagines liberation/positive change, and their reasons why
  • how each relates specifics of their life and work context to these issues.


  1. Choose one of these authors and a meaningful quote (or related quotes) or concept/theoretical point, develop it, explain it, and apply it – whether to a situation they describe or one you see in your life or in the world today generally.


  1. Explain Zillah Eisenstein’s points on how and why she used a hypothetical pregnant, poor Black woman as a way to check policies or political theories for their adequacy.


  1. Zillah Eisenstein states, “what is the responsibility of white women within the different women’s movements – because we don’t have a unified one – in trying to negotiate an honest coalition that asks more than for me to be an ally, that asks for me to be an active participant in the struggle.” (p. 136) (See also her comments on “ally” on pp. 137-138.) Explain this quote.


  1. Describe some of Aída Hernández-Castillo’s work from pp. 114-119, explaining one of the anecdotes and lessons she draws from it.


  1. Describe some of Amína Mama’s work, explaining one of the anecdotes and lessons she draws from it.


  1. Relate the Feminist Freedom Warriors project to the Minnich text or to any of the videos we have watched in class, such as Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talks “The Danger of a Single Story” and “We Should All Be Feminists.” Explain at least two significant ways that the Feminist Freedom Warrior project (or some element of it such as an interview or some points from the introduction to the text) relate to one or more points in Minnich or in one of the Chimamanda Adichie videos.


  1. Explain from Pratt’s narrative each of the following:


How Pratt describes her struggle as learning “to be in the world as it is.”


How she comes to learn that her eyes have “only let in what they have been taught to see.”


How she gains not only a different view of the world but also a clearer view, as well as a whole way of looking which is more adequate to discerning the multi-layered world around her.


Explain, Pratt writes:

So this is one gain for me as I change.  I learn a way of looking at the world that is more accurate, complex, multi-layered, multi-dimensional, more truthful; to see the world of overlapping circles, like movement on the millpond after a fish has jumped, instead of the courthouse square with me in the middle…I feel the need to look differently because I’ve learned that what is presented to me as an accurate view of the world is frequently a lie…I’m learning that what I think I know is an accurate view of the world is frequently a lie.


Note: Her language of truth and lies makes it explicit that her experiences have been not merely shifts in perspective, but shifts to more truthful views.


Explain this example: Pratt gives as an example of taking herself to know something that is in fact a lie, a case where she and three other Christian-raised women insisted to a Jewish woman that on their march together through a cemetery they had seen rows of crosses.  The Jewish woman objected that there were instead headstones with names, some engraved with crosses and some with stars-of-David.  Pratt and the other Christian-raised women adamantly argued that the markers were crosses, until the Jewish woman showed them photographs from the march, with headstones, one clearly showing a star-of-David.

Whatever difficulties we might have in supporting general realist claims for moral attention, this case is one where the relevant evidence makes it clear that in fact Pratt’s initial view was false,  however strongly she believed it before being confronted with the photographs.  Having learned from that experience, she might then go on to exercise attention in such a way that she does not incorrectly see non-Christian symbols as Christian ones, so that her attentive abilities have been improved beyond her Christian-centered bias.


Explain, as Pratt comes to realize how much her identity has been built upon implicit assumptions of and investments in institutional racism, she writes:

I was shaped by my relation to those buildings and to the people in the buildings, by ideas of who should be working in the Board of Education, of who should be in the bank handling money, of who should have the guns and the keys to the jail, of who should be in the jail; and I was shaped by what I didn’t see, or didn’t notice, on those streets.

Her worldview was a part of her, invisible to her until she gained distance from it and perspective on it.  In her case, it was largely through her involvement in political organizing that she was confronted with threats to her assumptions.  Encounters with those operating in different contexts, with different worldviews, encouraged her to examine her own and develop capacities of moral attention with which to experience the world.


Explain how Pratt generalizes from her own case to those of others, claiming that each of us inhabits some remnants of our early worldview, that in which we happened to be raised before we developed our powers to think more critically.  She writes:

…Each of us carries around those growing-up places, the institutions, a sort of backdrop, a., stage-set.  So often we act out the present against a backdrop of the past, within a frame of perception that is so familiar, so safe that it is terrifying to risk changing it even when we know our perceptions are distorted, limited, constricted by that old view.


Explain: Reading the Pratt narrative for their own project on the kind of agency they see Pratt exemplifying, Chandra Mohanty and Biddy Martin write of the vertigo entailed by Pratt’s coming to understand the lies which her experience of home, and her role as a young white woman there, were built upon.  They write, “Pratt now remembers that home was repressive space built on the surrendering of all responsibility.

Pratt’s self-reflection, brought on by a consciousness of difference, is nourished and expanded by thinking contextually of other histories and of her own responsibility and implication in them.”  Thus, Pratt’s learning progress was based fundamentally upon her coming to take a deeper sense of responsibility for herself and her part — however subtle and unintentional — in the fabric of social problems in the world in which she lives.


Explain: as Pratt engages in this conscious practice of attention, her engagement with the world ensures that there is a closer fit between her perspective and the world, when not mediated through the distorting lens of unreflective whiteness.  As Pratt writes:

In this city where I am no longer of the majority by color or culture, I tell myself every day: In this world you aren’t the superior race or culture and never were, whatever you were raised to think: and are you getting ready to be in this world?

And I answer myself back: I’m trying to learn how to live, to have the speaking-to extend beyond the moment’s word, to act so as to change the unjust circumstances that keep us from being able to speak to each other; I’m trying to get a little closer to the longed-for but unrealized world, where we each are able to live, but not by trying to make someone less than us, not by someone else’s blood or pain: yes, that’s what I’m trying to do with my living now.

Pratt’s narrative gives real content to the view that how one engages in relationship with others, and how one sees the world and intervenes into it, are part of one’s character, just as one’s set of explicitly stated values are.


Explain: Pratt claims consistently that she is coming to see the world more truly as it is.  In a world divided so deeply along lines of race, sex, class, and other differences, opaqueness to the distortions caused by that which holds those divisions in place cannot but breed blindness.  She distinguishes between truth and lies, between truth and denial.  Pratt’s vision of the headstones as crosses was shown to be false by the evidence of photographs.

Her vision of history was shown to be radically interested and partial by other sources.  We can think of cases where we first misinterpreted a situation, because of the distorting effect of what we wanted to see.  Pratt uses attention to speak from her own position, specifically acknowledging the partiality of her perspective and the endemic possibilities of distortion.  Over time, she has developed an anti-racist perspective through which to mediate her experiences and make sense of the world.



Last Updated on February 11, 2019 by EssayPro