I don't know what the standard is like in introductory philosophy classes where you're attending school, so can't say if you should have a better grade or not. What I do know, however, is that I
wouldn't give you an A for that essay, and I highly doubt that you would get higher than a D, or perhaps a C if lucky, (on the ECTS scale) if you were attending the same school as I am. (Not that the school I'm attending has very high standards or anything...) On the other hand, the assignment seems pretty stupid, so I'm not really sure how much of what I have to say that will be relevant. Okay, so I'm a bit tired right now (it's 03:40ish and I've been spending the last hours on an algorithm that doesn't do what I want it to), but I'll give you some short comments and feedback.
1. The introduction
You take up too much space saying things that aren't relevant. The relvant parts of the introduction (i.e., your thesis and how you are going to use certain terms. I would be hard pressed to acknowledge there being a thesis in there though) could be stated more concisely. Aim for simpler phraseology and cut out vagueness, ambiguity and unnecessary words. (Why is the subset obscure, and is it relevant for your paper?)
Example: "But what is happiness anyways with its cacophony of meanings? The word happiness is thrown around with a dizzying array of meanings, sure to put any neuroscientist in a state of disorientation. To stray clear away from any confusion in this paper, I will define happiness as any good feeling and will umbrella all other terms introduced through our complex language, such as contentment, pleasure, etc.. I will also define 'good feeling' as any feeling that appears pleasant to oneself, either in the short or long-term span (possibly the feeling of contentment); or in some cases, simply a lack of 'bad.'
Philosophy version: "In what follows, 'happiness' will be used for all states of mind which the subject finds pleasant, independent of their duration, as well as for the absence of non-pleasant states of mind."
[at least I guess that this is what you're trying to say...?]
You briefly stated your view, which the assigment asked for.
1.If I remember my Aristotle, your first statement is off. Aristotle wasn't expressing an opinion; he was putting forth a theory of what the it means to lead a good life. Just state his thesis and give a reference (unless your professor said you don't have to).
2. What you "contend" isn't relevant. Give an argument, either your own or someone elses, or leave it out. The entire first paragraph looks like high school-rhetoric, the purpose of which is to fill upp space.
3. The second paragraph seems quite off as well. Im not really sure what you're arguing, and again, I feel that your reading of Aristotle isn't completely accurate. (People disagree abot Aristotle quite often anyway, so I wont push this)
4. You also mention that you're saying these things to support your argument, but you havent presented any such thing yet. When is it comming? Why didn't you use the introduction to clearly state your thesis and in what order you were going to present things? And again, why are you contending so many things, and arguing for so few? Why are you speculating? Argue, give references to arguments, or cut it out.
Pros: You kind of correlated your view to that of Aristotle (though you used at least half of the text doing nothing)
3. Group input
I'll treat this part paragraph by paragraph.
. The point could be stated more concisely. Do you need every example? Is it relevant that you're aspiring to become a theoretical physicist, or a neuroscientist? Did you ave to include three different possibilities? Again, you use too much space.
Pros of §1. You finally presented your view somewhat explicitly.
Cons of §1. The paragraph is sort of confusing and wordsy.
. Blah blah, speculation without arguments, blah blah, anecdotes.
Cons of §2. Doesn't contribute with anything philosophically relevant. At all. Except that it hints at you being a determinist, but what you believe
isn't philosophically interesting.
. What, there was a physiological discussion!? Where? Oh, you mean that
... The only interesting part of this paragraph (to me at least) is this part:
"I do not try to fight these Darwinian goals, but embrace them. If you were to combat the very genetic tendencies that make up your DNA, then you are in a hopeless and never-ending struggle. We are enslaved to our genetic predisposition and brain chemistry, as belittling as it sounds
But for some reason, you didn't spend any time discussing what you mean. I guess that you're a determinist, but if so, how does it even make sense to talk about fighting against your predetermined dispositions? What does that even mean? If everyone is enslaved by their genes, then fighting against your genes could only be the result of certain causal reactions, in which your genome plays a causally relevant role. Right?
One might also wonder what you mean with "Darwinian goals". Are you suggesting a natural teleolgy, or are you just using philosophically unsuitable phraseology again? Why aren't you arguing for these ideas? It doesn't make sense to just mention these without engaging with them.
Cons of §3 Still no arguing! Still lots of blah blah blah.
. Too many words, too little said. No argument. You could've said "I want to understand everything" or something like that instead of using an entire paragraph to list a few examples. "To know the brain and how it gives us the illusion of reality that we conceptualize through our brain (of which most fail to bring to second-thought).
" This sentence sounds pretty awkward, and a philosopher would probably wonder what to make of it.
. A summary would've been better; that way the reader would have an easier time understanding what you thought that you were doing in the paper. Good that you have ambitions.
Ideas for improvements:
1. Use more arguments. It's The Way to do philosophy
2. Exclude pretty much all information which doesn't contribute to the arguments. If you can't motivate every part of every sentence, then cut or change it.
3. Be explicit about what you're arguing for, where you get your premisses, why things follow from each other, how what you're currently doing is relevant to what you're trying to achieve &c
4. You could be a bit more straight forward in your writing.
End note: I'm not saying any of this to be mean. I'm trying to show what the guy (or gal) grading your work might think. (I'm really tired, so some of it might just be me being a bit lost at the moment.) But yeah. You shouldn't be upset about getting a B+ for this essay. (Though, to be fair, I'm quite upset that it's so easy to get high grades in some places. No wonder so many american universities reject over 90% of the people applying for grad school in philosophy)
Oh, and English isn't my native language, so if there is some strange grammar or somesuch, I'd be more than happy if you were to point it out.
Better luck next time.