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February 27, 2009

Epicurus on Happiness -- for March 3/5

The topic for this week will be De Botton's summary of the views of Epicurus, pages 43 to 73 in Consolations. There is one other assignment. View the lecture by Nobel laureate David Kahneman at this address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7cECaUAnTQ .

On the Epicurus, know what he means by thought, freedom, and friendship, and know how he determines whether a good is something that we truly need to be happy. On the Kahneman, be able to summarize his experiments and their results. Make a list of the facts about happiness, especially the surprising facts, that Kahneman claims fall out of his research work.

We will spend the first part of Tuesday wrapping up the Thoreau section. Review the second chapter of Walden.

February 26, 2009

Class Cancelled Thursday February 26

Because of the dire warnings about snow and freezing rain, I am canceling today's class. Be prepared to discuss the second chapter of Walden on Tuesday. Remember that the first draft of paper 3 is due on Friday. Please check the course website tomorrow for further information about next week's work.

February 25, 2009

Class tomorrow? Stay tuned.

The snowstorm might force me to cancel class tomorrow. I will send out emails and post a notice on this blog, to let you know whether class will happen. Please check both places tomorrow morning.

This link will get you a nicely edited version of the second chapter of Walden, with good notes available as needed: http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/transcendentalism/authors/thoreau/walden/chapter02.html

Work for Thursday, February 26

The next writing draft is due Friday. Here's the assignment: Download file

This is the Thursday reading assignment:

Reading Assignment for February 26
Walden: Please read this section: “Where I lived and What I Lived For.”

“Where I lived and What I Lived For”

This section begins with thoughts about ownership and imagination: can one use one’s imagination to derive from a place much of that value that one could have by owning it? What, after all, do we want from a place? Why is it important to us?

Thoreau next describes where he lives, and the virtues of his house and the land around it. This shades into a discussion of what attitude was made possible in him by the place where he lived. This discussion begins, “Every morning was an invitation to make my life of equal simplicity…” It continues to the end of the chapter.

This last part of the chapter divides between an account of Thoreau’s ideal in life, which he calls awakening or being awake, and the distractions and normalizations and sleepiness offered by civilized life. He is perhaps trying to explain why he must go some distance from civilization to pursue this ideal of attention or wakefulness.

February 14, 2009

Walden for Tuesday, February 17

Read the notes for the first chapter of Walden, and then read that chapter, using the notes as a reference guide: Download file

February 11, 2009

Writing notes

Here are the notes from the talk I gave on writing on Tuesday: Download file

The second writing assignment: Download file

Preparing for the quiz on Republic IV -- February 12

Here are some questions to think about, in preparing for the quiz on Thursday:

1. In one way, Plato’s Republic is a giant meditation on the advice, “Mind your own business,? as that applies to the classes within the city and to the corresponding parts within the person. What does Plato mean by this, in each case, and what disasters does he see happening when a class within a city ignores this advice? When the parts within a person ignore this advice?

2. How does Plato set up the parts of the city, and what are the corresponding parts in the human soul?

3. Why is Plato so concerned to regulate music and poetry in his well governed state?

4. What is Plato’s fear about the democratic soul (for this, see 561 a-d especially)?

5. Plato’s well-governed state is set up to be resilient, to endure challenges from internal disorder and external attack. What features account for this resilience?

February 9, 2009

Another day

I will need another day, Monday, to finish comments on the first paper. We'll talk about that paper in class on Tuesday. I apologize for the inconvenience.

February 6, 2009

For Tuesday, February 10

Reading notes for next assignment: Download file

BE SURE TO READ THE NOTES FIRST, AND TO USE THEM AS A GUIDE TO READING THE TEXT.

My comments on the first writing assignment drafts will appear in your email this weekend. The new final draft deadline is Friday, February 13.

February 4, 2009

Preparing for the quiz -- Feb 5, 2009

Here are some questions to review with respect to book 3 of Republic. The quiz may cover other matters though, and any material from previous quizzes is fair game, so do a careful review. Pay particular attention to the summary notes on this blog.

What kinds of stories does Plato want to exclude from his ideal city? What are his reasons for excluding the stories he excludes?

Why is acting in a play more dangerous than reading a story, if the actions depicted are of the wrong sort?

What stance does the Republic take on the following matters:

Physical and artistic education?
Erotic relationships between grown men and boys?
Medicine?
Food?
The economic status of rulers and soldiers?
The proper criteria for selecting rulers?

What is the function and point of the myth of the metals, at the end of book 3.