Wednesday, June 25, 2014

We are an Intimidating Presence in F & J

Construction at Goldwin Smith Hall.
I woke up this morning around 5:30 AM, finding that my roommate kept his promise of waking up very early in order to finish some readings for Freedom and Justice from last night. I went back to sleep and woke around 6:30 AM and went through my usual routine and reviewed some of the readings from last night. At breakfast I found myself with my cohort reviewing or at least talking about the readings of last night. We all had different ideas about the readings, I for one said that St. Augustine was significantly more difficult to understand than St. Thomas Aquinas, whereas another person said it was the other way around. I honestly enjoyed reading St. Thomas Aquinas more than St. Augustine because for one, he was more liberal and second, he attempted to find reasoning behind things by combining various ideas.
Today’s lecture was by far the longest and no doubt the most to take in. Professor Kramnick began with the two philosophers (St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas) in chronological order. He explained how St. Augustine lived from 354-430 A.D., how he’s from modern-day Tunisia, became one of the first major theologians of the Christian faith. He also mentioned how less than a thousand years later came St. Thomas Aquinas in the High Middle Ages and actually reasoned to find the truth behind things. Both were similar in the ways they thought (Aquinas referenced Augustine many times in his scriptures) and yet at the same time had noticeably different ideologies. They as a duo can be compared to Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, for one was pessimistic (Augustine) while the other was optimistic of human nature (Aquinas). Professor Kramnick mentioned in the beginning of this course, with how we would have a chronological study of selected philosophers, with the exception of Plato.

I do not know the name of this building.
This is the third time I’ve added the funny story of the day segment to my blog and I think I will continue. While in class, I honestly forgot if it was before or after Professor Kramnick was lecturing. He began talking about how he lives in North Campus (where we live) and how his house is old and in this case contained a wild flying mammal. It turns out there was a bat nestled on the ceiling of one his rooms and as he described his methods of disposing of the poor creature, he turned from a calm gentle old man—to one with a fiery passion to hurt things with a tennis racket as a weapon of choice apparently.  He had no remorse for the bat and might as well have attacked it with a baseball bat for the irony of it. Note to self: I was never planning on it, but don’t mess with Professor Kramnick while in his household or really anywhere, his age deceives.

As the lecture went on, Professor Kramnick unfortunately could not finish the entirety of it in time and summarized some of the last portions of the lecture that was on St. Thomas Aquinas. We went to our TA and went over the readings even more in depth. At the end of the first session my cohort and I hit the Trillium cafeteria and I’m beginning to get tired of eating the Chinese food there.  The first two days of sesame chicken was amazing, but now that I’m growing tired of this—I may have to go into the taco wrap or Indian food line. My options are running out fast.

After, we went back to our discussion room and went over writing style and it was basically a review of AP Lang that dealt with restructuring sentences. We also got our freedom essays back with comments. Some of the things I have to improve on are explaining more thoroughly what I consider freedom and further delineating the different types of freedom that I mentioned in my essay. A typed rewrite is due on Friday and there is quite a bit of reading to do (I’ll get to that at the end of my post).

Statue of Ezra Cornell.
As I do not have a TV in my room or do much on my cellphone now-a-days, I’m totally oblivious as to whether the weather is going to get my clothes wet through either sweat or rain—or possibly both, as was the case today. Today is the second day in a row that I purposely left my umbrella, because both today and yesterday started off relatively warm with either partially clouded or blue skies. Then again, the weather can stab you in the back at any given time and as a benefit; at least clean your shoes. I remember seeing a lot of soaking wet people today as they exited the elevator on my floor, while I was reading Plato in the conference room.  

Another funny story occurred today as I just entered Mary Donlon.  As I came through the building two girls from my Freedom and Justice class waved and invited me to talk. We talked about the course readings and how it seemed next to impossible to finish today and they even talked about my cohort. What they said fascinated/amused me. They claimed that we as a cohort intimidate them in the discussion sessions with how we engage with questions and answers. It’s a feeling I didn’t have for a long time—that of intimidating people, except this time they are smart summer college peers. 
I saw this poor bird in the rain near Balch.
This dinner was different from the last ones, considering how the freedom and justice cohort didn’t eat together at the table today. This time it was understandable because we did have a significant amount of reading today. Today’s reading consists of about 100 pages of selected passages from Plato’s Republic. Good thing it’s interesting and that I already read a grand portion of it. I’m pretty sure I can finish before midnight and then revise my essay tomorrow. 
Purcell underneath the not so sunny skies.

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