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Thursday, May 5

May 5, 2016

WWTWWT: Today we talked about three guys who all tried to answer, in their own ways, the question that Descartes left us with: how can we have any connection with other human beings, and the world around us, if the only thing we can be sure of is that we think?

(Remember: the reason we’re asking this question is because Aristotle’s idea about the mind and body working together has been thrown out. He was too closely associated with St. Thomas Aquinas, who adapted Aristotle’s ideas, but was attacked by William of Ockham and John Duns Scotus for claiming to know too much about God’s workings.)

According to the rationalist philosopher Benedictus (Baruch) Spinoza, we are connected because everything is one substance — God. This is a theory commonly known as pantheism; it is also, philosophically, a version of monism — in which we believe the world is comprised of a single substance.

According to the rationalist philosopher Gottfried Leibniz, we are all connected because everything is a monad a tiny particle, kind of like an atom, except that each one has the entire history of the universe imprinted on it. (By God, as you might expect.) This is also a monistic theory (which I know is confusing: monism/monads.)

According to George Berkeley — who, unlike the other two guys, was an empiricist — everything is simply perception. (And thus, we CAN’T really communicate.

That is, Berkeley was such a rigorous empiricist that he suggested that we can’t actually prove that the world around us actually exists. It’s made up of matter — but what IS matter, exactly? We don’t know, and can’t know, because the mind and body are separate. The only thing we can be sure of is that we are perceiving things, but not what those things are. (In this, he sounded, weirdly, a lot like Descartes — including the part where Descartes had to acknowledge that, according to his philosophy, the mind and body can’t communicate.)

For Tuesday, please read the sections on Spinoza and Leibniz, as well as the introduction to “The Age of Revolution.”

History: Today you started printing for the alphabet book. This will continue/finish on Tuesday; if you were absent, or want to get a head start on finishing, feel free to come in during lunch or 3rd block, or another free time. This will help things run more efficiently on Tuesday.

Siren: May stuff. Have a list of headshots to Miss McClintock ASAP for your piece, if you need them.

Prompt: Today you played Pit. Your associated entry for this activity should be a piece based on this experience – it can be a reflection, a story or poem inspired by the game, etc.  Notebooks will be checked, as usual, on Tuesday.

Survey: CNF: Worked on new moments and “questions for reflection”: the way any new essay is born out of seemingly trivial experiences. Heard some first-person accounts of “what if?” essays from past Survey students.

Survey: Screenwriting: Today you took a quiz on Sunset Blvd, and then got the next assignment for the group project: Screenwriting 5.5.16 – Story Dev Proj, Part 5 Story. The rest of the time was yours to work.

Read Chapter 3 of Save the Cat for Tuesday. There will be a quiz, and then you will have more time to work in your groups.

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