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Tuesday, April 5

April 5, 2016
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WWTWWT: Today we talked about several things. We began with this image of Pittsburgh icon Mr. Rogers:

as an illustration that you can’t always believe received wisdom.

1. We pointed out that the terms “Middle Ages,” “Medieval Period” and “Dark Ages” are often used interchangeably. There’s a long history to this that involved Petrarch, which we didn’t get into. However, to call the whole period “The Dark Ages” is misleading, and suggests that it was nothing but famine, barbarism and chaos from about 476 AD (the approximate fall of the Roman Empire) to the 14th century, or thereabouts. It really wasn’t, and that conception neglects the very real cultural work of people like Thomas Aquinas and the other Scholastics of the “High” Middle Ages (let’s say, from around 1000 till the Renaissance).

2.  We reviewed the concept of universals, which Plato believed existed in the Realm of Ideal Forms (such as the ideal “red” or the ideal “good”). Aristotle believed that universals existed, but he thought they existed only in individual objects. An apple has redness; so does a fire truck. Both objects have a universally-recognizable “redness,” however.

Thomas Aquinas also believed in this idea of universals; like Aristotle, he believed they existed in objects.

3. This view of universals was challenged by William of Ockham, a British Franciscan friar who took issue with lots of things that Aristotle (and Aquinas) believed. His main objection (and the objection of his teacher, John Duns Scotus) was that Aquinas’s worldview made God and his workings TOO understandable to man. Remember, Aquinas — like his model, Aristotle — believed that we can trust the evidence of our senses. Aquinas also believed that this knowledge could provide evidence of God’s existence and his works.

Ockham disagreed. God is too great to be understood that easily, he believed. Therefore, we have only our faith. Therefore, he believed there were no such things as universals — that would be giving man too much credit. He believed that we use words like “red” to explain what we see in both an apple and a fire truck, for example. But he didn’t believe that quality of “redness” existed anywhere but in our minds — as a device to enable us to communicate.

In fact, here’s what he said on the subject of universals:

“I do hold this, that no universal, unless perhaps it is universal by a voluntary agreement, is something existing outside the soul in any way, but all that which is of its nature universally predicable of many is in the mind either subjectively or objectively, and that no universal is of the essence or quiddity of any given substance.”

Ockham believed what he believed because he felt that was what it meant to be a good Christian. However, his insistence that universals did not exist would have far-reaching implications, implications that extend into the present day. Essentially, Ockham’s idea cut the legs out from under Christianity, because it limited the defense of Christianity to faith alone, instead of science. And it would also have a negative effect on science (or anything that depends on cause-effect relationships — more on this soon).

*Ockham is probably best-known for developing the idea of “Ockham’s Razor,” which says, in essence, that the more complicated something is, the more likely there is to be a mistake. So when developing a theory, we should keep things as simple as possible.

On Thursday, we will review for our midterm, which will be held on Tuesday the 12th. Read your book; read your notes; read the blog.

Book History: Today was a transitional day; we took some pictures and talked about the making of the class book of hours. Then we reviewed some of the presses that we saw at Sapling, just to get you in the right headspace for talking about and thinking about Gutenberg and the first official printing press(es). Also think about the word “press” itself and its varied meanings.

You need to have the book (Gutenberg Revolution) read for Thursday. There will be a quiz (with specific questions/areas of discussion). If you honestly read the book, it will be easy. If you did not, then it will not be.

Siren: April copy stuff &c.

Prompt: Notebooks were checked and we had a class reading.

Survey: CNF: Gave out the transcripts of Mr. DeFade’s interview 25 questions for Eric DeFade (with answers) 2016

as well as a timeline of his career. Also gave back those attributive verb quizzes, with an answer key. Survey Punctuation quiz with answers April 4 2016

Remember this stuff when you’re working on your sketch.

We talked about possible focuses and themes for this sketch, and I gave you two version of an interview with Mr. Poling. The second one is the one I want you to emulate for your sketch.

For Thursday: read through the transcript. Highlight a half-dozen to a dozen really good quotes — quotes you like, quotes that you think are worth reading. Then give me (in written form) an answer to the following question: what is your theme going to be? What do you want to say about Mr. DeFade? What do you want other people to know about him?

Survey: Screenwriting: Today you did a response to Baby Jane (Screenwriting 4.4.16 – Baby Jane Response) and we discussed the film – this took most of the block.

We started to go over the new assignment: Screenwriting 4.4.16 – Assignment 5, Sequence. We will continue to talk about this on Thursday. Your homework is to listen to your inspiration song (assigned in class) and think about ideas for your sequence. If you were absent, please see me ASAP to get your assigned concept and song.

 

 

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