Monthly Archives: September 2011

Surely you jest…

“The splinter in your eye is the best magnifying-glass.”

~Theodor Adorno

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The Power of Language

Check out Mark Pagel’s fascinating speech on how language transformed humanity: (Cut and paste into your browser)

After you watch and process the ideas, consider this talk in relation to the following quotation:

“Language as a supposed science.–The significance of language for the development of culture lies in the fact that human beings used it to set up a world of their own beside the other one, a place they deemed solid enough that from there they could lift the rest of the world from its hinges and make themselves its master.  Insofar as people believed for long stretches of time in the concepts for and names of things as if they were aeternae veritates, they appropriated for themselves the pride with which they raised themselves above the animals: they really believed that in language they had knowledge of the world.  The shapers of language were not so modest as to believe that they expressed with words the highest knowledge about things; language is in fact the first step of the struggle of science.  Here, too, it is the belief in having found truth from which the most powerful sources of energy flowed.  Long afterward–only just now–is it dawning on people that they have propagated a colossal error with their belief in language.  Luckily, it is too late for the development of reason, which rests upon the belief, to be reversed.  —Logic also rests upon presuppositions to which nothing in the real world corresponds; for example, upon the presupposition of the likeness of things, of the identity of the same thing at different points of time: but this science arose out of the opposite belief (that such things do indeed obtain in the real world).  It is the same in mathematics, which certainly would not have come into being if one had known that there was in nature no exactly straight line, no real circle, no absolute magnitude.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (I)

How does Pagel’s talk compare and contrast with Nietzsche’s view?  How does Richard Wright’s text support Pagel’s case and perhaps undermine Nietzsche’s?

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Wright on…

“The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.”

-David Foster Wallace

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A Human Problem…

“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
David Foster Wallace

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Agree or Disagree?

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own.  Nobody.  You built a factory out there–good for you.  But I want to be clear.  You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.  You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.  You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.  You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory…Now look.  You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea–God bless!  Keep a big hunk of it.  But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
-Elizabeth Warren  

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2011 Junior Achievement Essay Competition

  • Where: 1050 17th Street, NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20036
  • Open to any student in the 9th-12th grade in the Greater Washington Region.  A 1,000-1,500 word essay on the topic, “How can young entrepreneurs and the local governments of DC, Maryland and Virginia work together to empower the next generation to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Greater Washington?” must be submitted on or before October 31, 2011.  One grand prize of $20,000 and eight $10,000 scholarships will be awarded. 
  • Website: http://www.myJA.org/students/essay/
  • Phone: (202) 296-1200
  • Email: www.myJA.org
  • Price: FREE

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Gaithersburg Book Festival Short Story Writing Contest

Here are two links for a writing contest (the first one is a description of the contest and the second is the contest site):

http://hyattsville.patch.com/articles/short-story-contest-for-high-schoolers-boasts-cash-awards

http://www.gaithersburgbookfestival.org/writing-contest.htm

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