Value and the Modern World – As we have seen, one consequence of the scientific revolution was to re-conceive the very idea of nature. Rather than the source of harmony, purpose, value, and goals, nature is seen as a purposeless, meaningless, and aimless system ordered by invariant laws but to no end. And yet, human action and thinking are still constituted by values, purposes, and norms. So a paradigmatic modern problem is to understand where these come from, if not from nature. Some people, like Pascal, claim that a nature-transcendent God still gives us purpose and meaning. Others, like Montaigne, claim that nature does endow humans with goals, purposes, and values, but these have no ultimate or rational justification and we need to learn to live within those limits. Still others, like Kant, argue that human reason itself grounds the values and norms that shape human life, and Simone de Beauvoir argues that it is human freedom. Kafka’s The Trial can be interpreted as a stark illustration of this predicament. Write a paper in which you a) analyze the nature of the problem, and b) defend the best answer to the problem (and remember, one answer might be that there is no answer!). Your paper should show a clear and well-reasoned understanding of the nature of the problem. You should also include a concrete case that illustrates the problem (this may be fictional or real, so long as it illuminates).

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