If you require any help or advice on how to prepare for this paper please feel free to ask. I have taught this for the past 5 years.
I think it is important to stress that you are not expected to learn essays as you cannot predict the paragraph chosen by the examiners. It would be wise to think about the topics you have learnt during your whole course and how they can be applied to the set text.
If Ayer came up, for example, you know that his text relates primarily to religious language, however it applies to so many things beyond it!
A general structure for Ayer part (a) could be...
1) Introducting the text..'This text is taken from A.J.Ayer's 'God talk is evidently non-sense. In this passage Ayer argues...(summarise the passage then relate to the rest of Ayer as a whole).
2) The context of Ayer's writings i.e. Logical Positivism and the Vienna Circle. Introduce the verification principle and the criteria by which a statement can be meaningful (analytic, synthetic, maths)...
3) Now pick out 3-4 key ideas from the text and relate it to other topics you have studied e.g. Language games (Aquinas, Wittgenstein, Tillich) as a critique of Ayer and those who would support Ayer (Flew et al). You could also bring in religious experiences - William James and the set text from Donovan (I-You/I-It relationship). This could be linked to Westphal, particularly Schleiermacher and the importance of 'feelings'.....what would Hume/Kant say? They would see this as the husk of religion. Think about the classical arguments for the existence of God...
This should hopefully give you some ideas. You need to remember to relate key ideas from Ayer to topics you have studied, both at AS and A2.
It would be good to have an understanding of an overview of the paragraphs, but you are not expected to comment upon every single thing Ayer mentions.
As for Westphal you could do it like this....
Intro: This text is taken from Westphal's 'The emergence of modern philosophy' where he discusses the shift from political theology (talking about God) to philosophy of religion (talking about religon). Briefly mention what the paragraph is saying.
Context the enlightenment. epistemological and ecclesiastical ramifications for the Church. Define scholasticism and deism with supporting examples i.e. Aquinas and his five ways for scholasticism. Mention husk and kernel throughout.
Discovering the Husk (Kant, Schleirmacher, Hegel - a paragraph on each one, what they say and relate to other topics of study...e.g. Kant and deontology, Schleirmacher and religious experience as well as Donovan and Ayer as critque).
Discarding the husk Marx, Nietzsche, Hume - the former were more concerned about the motives of religion. A paragraph on each one, what they say and relate to other topics of study e.g. Marx and religion and morality...religion used as a form of class/social control...Hume and his argument against the C.A etc.
Rememer to bring in the other set texts also.
This is really helpful, was just wondering what to include in an part b question for westphal?
Hi, I was just wondering what you thought were the chances of Donovan coming up again. I am very concerned that with these papers being the legacy papers that they are going to throw curveballs.
Do you have any model answers for both Ayer and Donovan? Thankyou