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Building a Theory of Everything in 500 Words or Less


In approximately 500 words (give or take), build (or start to build) and then summarize your theory of everything. You do not have to provide arguments for each of your positions, but you do have to describe concisely key features of your thinking on these positions. And, to look for connections.

As a starting place, think about the major themes addressed by our textbook and lay out your positions and views on the chapter topics. For most of our chapters, there’s more than one fundamental question that you could ask. It’s your choice here, and your first order of business, to identify the theme or question that you want to address as part of your worldview.

Alternatively, start with your most fundamental or most central belief. In Plato, the single most important feature of his Worldview is his theory of the Forms. Once that position is articulated, the rest of his answers to fundamental questions just follows. Do you have a most fundamental belief, something that completely anchors the rest of your worldview? If so, organize (and build out) your theory of everything from there, rather than going strictly by chapter theme.

In addition, feel free to make your theory of everything yours by incorporating other questions that you think are among life’s most fundamental and important. And, feel free to emphasize some questions over others, and to organize your worldview however makes the most sense for your worldview.

1. Articulating a worldview is the project of a book (or for Plato, 30 books), but I only have 500 words!?

Put some real thought into your project and your worldview but be picky about what you choose to tell us. The example above for Plato is 424  words. Summarize and tell us about key features rather than fully articulating your entire world view. And unlike this class so far, breadth is more important than depth here.

2. What do I actually turn in?

There is considerable room for variation on the format of what you turn in. It’s up to you, how you want to communicate what you think to your classmates. While a bullet-pointed document like above is fine. So is

a. An audio recording or video (talking head style or with slides or other visuals)

b. A slide show or Prezi (perhaps with each topic/question/chapter gets its own slide)

c. A diagram or infographic of some sort (an idea map, perhaps?)

d. A short story? While they aren’t complete worldviews, admittedly, consider as examples Tolstoy’s story of the traveler (Ch 9), Camus’ Sisyphus (Ch 3), and all the various end of chapter stories. These very effectively conveyed philosophical meaning. If you go this route, please be sure to also include a brief guide to your story—that is, unpack it for us, don’t simply leave it up to interpretation.

e. A drawing? A song? Something else? It’s your worldview; You get to tell us about it however you want. Just remember that whatever you choose, you must clearly communicate your ideas to us (see rubric below).

3. Do I have to stick to textbook views?

4. Can I work with someone else?

Small teams are permitted (2, maybe 3 students). If you choose to work as a team, be sure to include a comment with your submission with all team member names. Form your own teams by connecting with classmates on via Canvas, or let me know you are interested in forming a small team and I can post an announcement or otherwise help facilitate.

If you would like to work together in a larger team, please contact me and make your best case for how you will work productively and constructively in the larger team to realize the final project.

5. You keep saying “us”, like in “unpack it for us”.Who’s “us”?

You are reporting and summarizing your positions here (remember, no arguments need be provided here). Even so, I hope you take a little bit of time to see what your classmates think. Then, as appropriate, engage in one last (asynchronous) discussion with your classmates. Replies are not required but they are encouraged. 3 extra credit points, up to 6, for any meaningful reply.

6. How is this graded? Will I be marked down if my worldview isn’t coherent?

Your worldview is worth 40 points.

Coming up with a coherent worldview is no easy thing. The act of writing/composing/constructing your project is part of the developing, and possibly discovery, of your beliefs and values. Embrace this, and use the process to help you make develop, and make explicit, your beliefs and values. And keep in mind that our worldviews do, in fact, change over time.

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