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Thursday, March 14

April 14, 2016

WWTWWT: Today we began, officially, the second half of this course by talking about the key change heralded by the Renaissance. Western society went from believing that:

“Knowledge is good” (that is, good for its own sake)


“Knowledge is power” (that is, it’s good primarily for the prediction and control of nature, to practically improve our lives.)

The latter quote is attributed to Francis Bacon, whom we’ll get to soon, but as a belief, its effect on philosophy, and society, was monumental. It came partly from the continued discovery and development of science, of course. It came partly from the increased emphasis on human beings, and human rights, and what we could do to improve the human condition. (Not only better gadgets, for example, but also less-restrictive governments.)

And it came partly from the rejection of Aquinas (and therefore Aristotle) that occurred in the 13th and 14th centuries, by well-meaning Christians like William of Occam and John Duns Scotus, who said the only way we could know God and his works was through faith. They gave the thumbs-down to Aquinas’s assertion that we could know God through the evidence of our senses and our reason. That led to a rejection of Aristotle’s very important assertion: that the mind and the body work together to give us information about the world.

This is huge, because starting with the Renaissance, the whole mind/body question becomes (once again) the main source of philosophical disagreement. We’re going to meet guys who insisted that the mind and body are completely separate, that you HAVE to choose one or the other as the way of knowing the world.

So, science. If you wanna hear a completely incoherent take on philosophy and science, join Bill Nye the Science Guy here for some really DEEP THOUGHTS:

I can’t claim to know Bill Nye’s thoughts on this particular subject, but I’d be willing to bet that he — like lots and lots of scientists (and philosophers) since the Renaissance — is of the belief that only two of Aristotle’s Four Causes are worth talking about: the material cause, and the efficient cause.

This is understandable, in one sense. If your goal is the prediction and control of nature, then the only information you really need to know is what something is made of (material) and how it’s made (efficient). You don’t really care about its formal cause because forms are just terminology that doesn’t affect your experimenting. You don’t care about a final cause because knowing why something exists is a question outside your scope. (And you might well argue that nothing really HAS a final cause — that we should treat nature as though final causes are imaginary, that everything happens at random. Of course, you will probably note that if you get rid of the final cause, you get rid of any reference to a god or gods. That isn’t accidental.)

So after all that, we didn’t spend more than a few minutes on Machiavelli — just long enough to poll you all on the attributes of your ideal leader, a prescient question in this election year. We’ll see Tuesday how all that matches up to Machiavelli’s depiction of the ideal prince — that is, if he was being serious. (We’re still not sure.)

Also for Tuesday: please read the sections in your textbook about Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. If you were in Violence or Argument, you should remember a little about both of those guys and their views of human nature.

Book History: Today you took a quiz on the reading assignment for today (first 40 pages of Thinking with Type), and then we backtracked to finish up the notes from Tuesday (names for gatherings/quires that are not printed/not conventionally numbered).

We then talked about letters and our arbitrary feelings about them. Everyone got assigned two letters for this assignment, which is due Tuesday: Book History 4.14.16 – Assignment 4, Adopt a Letter 1.

Olivia: O, Q

Owen: R, V

Danielle: A, Y

Andi: B, G

Nova: C, F

Ken: D, T

Ariana: E, S

Emmett: H, W

Payton: I, M

Kat: J, P

Tony: K, Z

Layla: L, U

Jonnah: N, X

Siren: Getting closer and closer to the release of the April issue. Saw some pretty great photos for it, too! The Mad Libs were a disturbing bonus.

Remember the field trip to The Beaver County Times next Thursday. I need permission slips by Monday so I can get an accurate count of those attending.

Prompt: Today was “One Act in One Hour.” Participation was enough; you can just write the date and the title of the activity in your notebook in order to count this as an entry.

Survey: CNF: The name game, in which we learned (duh) that people have lots and lots of name-related issues, some of which were shared. See me if you were absent to get a copy of “The Harvey Pekar Name Story.”

Survey: Screenwriting: Today you started off by taking a very brief quiz on the reading assignment for today. Then you got into your groups and did some brainstorming. Specifically, you started working on this assignment, which is due Tuesday: Screenwriting 4.13.16 – Story Dev Proj, Part 1. You also need to read the second chapter of the reading assignment for Tuesday (likely there will be another quiz).

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