The Best Approach to Control
Explain the ancient Chinese philosophies of Confucianism, Taoism and Legalism. What philosophy do you think would be most effective in maintaining political order?
The question of whether people are inherently good or evil has been pondered by philosophers for centuries. The way the government of a people answers this question can affect how they govern a populace. While many arguments can be made, there were three different philosophies introduced in Ancient: Taoism, Legalism, and Confucianism. These mirror three points of view expressed by the Western philosophers John Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. While each philosophy has its cons, the best philosophy for a successful government is Confucianism because it relies on the attitudes of the superior and the inferior to coincide in order for a population to flourish.
Both Taoism and the philosophies of Rousseau state that all people are good and that government is not necessary to build a successful community. The problem with these philosophies is that while many may take this view and attempt to lead successful lives without intervention, others who are more ambitious would have nothing guiding them, and those more inclined to cause harm would have nothing beyond their own conscious stopping them. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was an influential writer during the time of the French Revolution. His views that all people are inherently good contrasted greatly with all of the bloodshed and betrayal during the time he was writing, and he himself was eventually a victim of the guillotine. Still, he observed that the people who were the cause of the slaughter were the people who had toppled the original tyranny and were now in a position of power. From what he could observe, power corrupts, and representation was not enough to prevent tyranny; consequently, he was in favor of a more direct democracy. The Chinese philosophy of Taoism (sometimes called ‘Daoism”) also believed that seeking power was harmful to people because it went against nature. To truly gain mastery one should “let… things take their natural course.” By “[interfering] with the way of Nature, [one] can never master the world” (Tao Te Ching, verse 42). Taoism believes in allowing the nature of the world to take its course with concepts like yin (femininity/evil) and yang (masculinity/good). This way of the universe, the natural cycle, is the Tao. It was practiced in China along with the more popular Confucianism. These were the two main philosophies until Han Feizi viewed them as weak. Han Feizi rejected the more commonly practiced philosophies in China and introduced his much stricter philosophy/government known as Legalism. Though Han Feizi went overboard attempting to correct the issues with Taoism, the problems that he had with it were justified. Taoism is successful only in theory, and whether the population being subjected to the philosophy is a country or even a small classroom/family, the superiors have a responsibility to guide those they are in charge of, and provide an environment in which they can learn to be successful.
The flaw with Legalism, even though it might be more effective than Taoism in providing a structured lifestyle and preventing crimes, is that it’s so unfair to the people that it encourages discontent. John Hobbes, an English philosopher, believed that government should exist to control people and prevent conflict. In his opinion, governments were designed to control, not necessarily represent. Legalism is the opposite of Taoism in that it preaches that all people are inherently evil, and that the government exists solely to control them and prevent the violence that comes naturally to them. Legalism believed in a strict punishment-reward system to control the populace; and their idea of a “reward” was not being punished. People who disagreed with the government or broke the law were tortured, put to death, and even had their hands chopped off and boiled. It was successful, even if cruel and inhumane, until eventually the populace rose up and rebelled. The distrustful and merciless attitudes that the lawmakers treated them with angered them. The reaction that this treatment initiated illustrates the problems with using the strict Legalism to control a group of people. Government is overstepping its boundaries when it punishes an individual without a trial, and any fair government won’t carry out cruel and unusual punishments. People as a whole may need direction, but a fair amount of freedom is necessary to allow a society to develop.
The “compromise” between the two, the middle ground, is Confucianism-- the Chinese philosophy that would be the most successful in maintaining a populace. John Locke, an English philosopher whose views lay in between the conservative views of Hobbes and the liberal views of Rousseau, recognized that people were a mixture of good and evil. He is even partially quoted in the Declaration of Independence, “life, liberty and property” were what he believed were rights that all humans deserved. Like Locke, Confucianism was much fairer to the populace in the assumptions it made, as well as the way Confucian government executed their control. The philosophy was presented by Confucius, who believed in the power of relationships: relationships between ruler/subject, father/son, elder brother/younger brother, husband/wife, and, finally, the only relationship in which both were equal: friend/friend. What makes the ideas of Confucius so ideal for governing a populace is that he holds both the lesser in the relationship responsible for obeying the superior, as well the superior to the lesser. Confucianism preaches that every part of a society is mutually held responsible for the society to be successful. It is for this reason that I believe that Confucianism is the most ideal Chinese philosophy.
How a person in power controls those they have power over is not just on the grand scale of government; from parents to teachers and even friends, every person has probably experienced some way of being controlled. While there is a time and a place for strictness, and a time and a place for leniency, one cannot use those on a large scale such as civilization. People are not black and white, and their motives, whether they are making the laws or breaking the laws, can be complicated; which is why we should rely on a philosophy that favors the idea that all men are a mixture of both good and evil.
"Tao Te Ching Quotes." Tao Te Ching. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.
What Makes or Breaks a Civilization?
What category of SPRET (social, political, religion, economics, technology) has had the greatest impact on history, either positive or negative? Choose one category to argue for backed up with specific evidence from history that we have studied so far.
There is almost a formula for examining the history of the world, which consists of the rise and fall of many civilizations. The five main aspects of a civilization that contribute to the impact it leaves on the world are the social, the political, the religious, the economic, and the technological aspects. These things are not necessarily completely separate; politics is a part of how people interact socially and economically, as is spirituality is a part of the social aspect. The five components are all closely intertwined, but the aspect of civilization that most stands out is how people interact socially with each other. Not only is the social element the very backbone and definition of a community, it’s also deeply entwined in the other four elements of a society and is often the cause behind the effects that can define history.
The social aspect of a society doesn’t mean just how individual people interact with each other; it also refers to the stigmas and expected behavior that defines how each member of a community contributes. For example, in late twentieth century, laws that discriminated against African Americans were a result of shared attitudes among people in a position of power. The Civil Rights movement, a movement that many people were very passionately involved in regardless of the political power they held, eventually led to changes in law; the laws changed when the overall attitudes of people changed. In ancient times, women were barely seen as human beings; today, gay people are discriminated against and even today certain viewpoints are frowned upon. But the attitude of a general society towards a way of thinking is not always negative. The “golden ages” of various ancient societies encouraged many bright minds to invent many different kinds of new technology and philosophies.
While we can’t deny that the people in politics have an enormous hand in what direction their empire will go in, we also have to recognize that politics cannot exist without a social aspect. Government should exist to serve people as a whole; not by giving them everything they want, but by guaranteeing that they are safe and have the ability to live freely without fear. The government therefore relies on the “social aspect”, or what the people want. When a political power tries to squash out that individual freedom with oppression, the populace will not stand for it. Some of the most famous instances in history (the French & American revolution, the Great Leap Forward, the Ukraine riots) all stem from the people together working against what they believe is an unjust government; essentially, the social aspect.
The social aspect is also incredibly important to trade and religion, which both can lead to huge advances or hinder the development of a society. Two societies with a common culture will most likely have a more successful trading relationship two societies that have to battle a language barrier. Trading of goods or ideas between communities or even just people can lead to new innovations, or technology, that will advance that society greatly. Similarly, the fervor that can surround a religion is extraordinarily influential in history. Religion and the social component are closely linked, but the communication/relationships between different religions/sects and the spread of religions wouldn’t be possible without the important individual interactions that are also part of socialization.
While the social aspect of an empire may not be always be the first thing you notice about a civilization, the way that people treat each other and what they think is what defines us as people. The social aspect is what fills in an empire built around a less complex historical structure.
Chose one famous chemist in history …write a Q&A style magazine article that reveals key details about the chemists life/personality, the time period in which they lived & major scientific contributions (capture voice of a magazine article, don't just repeat basic research)
Interview With Rising Star Madame Curie
As I sit with Maria Sklodowska Curie (known more commonly by her stage name “Marie Curie”) outside the Hill Country Pierogi food trailer, she orders a small diet Coke and prepares to discuss her incredible achievements in the scientific world. Born in Warsaw, Poland on Nov.7, 1867, Madame Curie has developed quite a taste for the food of her home country and insisted that we meet somewhere that served traditional Polish food. Scarfing down the pierogi they bring us, I congratulate her on being the first woman to ever win a Nobel Prize-- and two at that.
Congratulations on being the first woman ever to win a Nobel Prize! And two at that!
Are you planning on shooting for any more? You’re already guaranteed a spot in the history books, but three Nobel Prizes would be impressive.
Well, I’m not in it for the prizes. They’re a very nice bonus to the work I do, but I’m more proud of the breakthroughs that I’ve made in science. You know both my husband Pierre and I discovered two new elements? Radium and polonium. We named it “polonium” because we wanted to honor Poland.
I take it then that you’re very proud to be from Poland?
I am proud to be from Europe, especially as the first European woman to be awarded a doctorate—I hope that someday many women will be able to earn doctorates. (American Association of University Women)
You’ve traveled very far to be with us here in America now.
I am trying to raise money for my new project; I’m founding a place dedicated to the study of radioactivity, the Radium Institute. Actually, if your readers are interested, we are very willing to accept donations for this institute.
This institute sounds like it will aid in many different discoveries about pure polonium/actinium and how radioactivity can be used, especially in important medical devices such as an x-ray; which will first be used on the battlefield to help wounded receive immediate treatment. And perhaps you yourself will one day spread over 200 permanent x-ray machines throughout France and Belgium! (The Radium Institute)
Is this this new institute going to be within the University of Paris, or is it going to be founded separately?
It will be a part of the university. I have great respect for the University of Paris, especially after they offered me my husband’s position as a physics professor (the first female one at the university!) after his… tragic accident.
Yes, I heard about that, I’m very sorry for your loss. How did he die again?
A terrible accident; he was run over by a horse-drawn carriage during a rainstorm.
I’m sorry… you certainly honored his memory, of course—your second Nobel Prize was awarded to you after his death for discovering and isolating a pure sample of radium.
Yes, his death actually inspired to work very hard to prove the existence of those elements. I also am very proud of my daughter, Irene, and her husband, Frederic—they’re well on her way to winning their own Nobel Peace Prize (perhaps in 1935, in recognition of their synthesis of new radioactive elements, or so). (Encyclopedia Britannica)
How sweet. I certainly hope you don’t die of leukemia caused by radiation poisoning in the same year they discover these new radioactive elements.
The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Frederic and Irene Joliot-Curie (French chemists)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2014. .
"Marie Curie - The Radium Institute (1919-1934)." Marie Curie - The Radium Institute (1919-1934). N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.
"Marie Curie." , Remarkable Scientist. St. Lawrence County, NY Branch of the American Association of University Women., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.
Gende, Dolores. "College Board." AP Central. Parish Episcopal School, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.
Write a conversation between any combination of the following influential women of Latin America: Eva Perón,
Manuela Sáenz, La Malinche (Doña Marina), y La Virgen de Guadalupe.
Setting: Some Time-Travel Restaurant in Latin America
Two important historical figures from Latin American history walk into a bar: or at least, a restaurant with a small bar. Both of the women seem to be underfunded and confused, so the sympathetic host convinces both of them to take seat at the table in the corner, and offers them a glass of water. At first they ignore each other; then, they converse in stilted and awkward Spanish. As the night gets darker and the tables around them begin to fill up, their conversation gets more relaxed, and they began to speak quickly to each other. The pale blonde woman seems to do most of the talking, her hands floating around her face to illustrate whatever she’s speaking about so passionately. The other woman is quieter; her dark eyes watch the blonde woman’s hands carefully, taking in every word. A waiter, finally on his break, sits down near them, and can’t help but overhear their conversation. The blonde woman is clearly finishing a long tirade.
“… I knew that I wanted to be an actress, I moved when I was only fifteen years old, and I was a good one! I was in plays, movies, on the radio, I was good. And that would have been enough, but I went even further, I did. I dragged myself up from the dirt and I made something of myself, and that, that is what I’m excellent at.” She takes a deep breath and then reaches for her water glass. She looks at the dark woman across from her as if just now seeing her face. “You, what is your name? What do people know you by?”
For the first time all night, the woman’s eyes meet Eva’s. She speaks softly, but her voice has an undeniable musical quality. Her accent is hard to place.
“I’m known by many different things, but I have two names that I prefer,” she pauses as though making a decision. Her eyes take in Eva’s haughty expression and pale skin. “I was rechristened Doña Marina once. You can call me Marina.”
“Rechristened? Renamed? You let someone else pick your name for you?”
“In a way. The name was not one that I picked out, but it was given to me at the time of my baptism, and I use it. Many call me La Malinche, you know.”
At this, Eva Peron’s eyes wide. “La Malinche? Manlinchiste? That is what the Mexican people use to say one who prefers foreign things. One who is a traitor.” She glares and almost spits the next words at Marina. “My country is my passion. I have no respect for any traitor.”
She starts to get up and walk away from the table, but pauses as Marina begins to speak again.
“I am not a traitor to anyone. I am loyal to myself. I was born into a noble Aztec family, yet my family sold me into slavery because I was not the favored child. Should I remain loyal to them?” Though her voice remains calm, her face is angry.
Eva sits down, intrigued. “You were born wealthy?”
“Not wealthy. Well, yes, mildly wealthy, but no one special. I had to work very hard to become anything.”
Eva looks at Marina very carefully. “I can admire that. You know, I was born poor; even worse, I was born less than noble. I was a bastard, an illegitimate child; my mother was not my fathers true wife. I was barely allowed to attend his funeral when he died, and I was scorned there by his true family.” She scoffs. “Not only did I pull myself out of that awful rut by becoming an actress—a good one—but I also was married to Juan Peron, the President of Argentina! I became the most powerful woman in the country, and there was no way anyone could mess with me.”
Marina laughs. “It was your marriage that gave you your power? It was my-“
Eva interrupts. “No. It was my marriage that gave me my status, it was my marriage that gave me my authority, but I am the one that gave myself my power.”
Marina looks at her, a little offended by the interruption, and continues.
“It was a man that gave me my power—my authority and my status, of course, but for me, also my power. His name was Herman Cortes, and while I started out as his translator, I ended up being something more to him. I gave birth to a son of his, you know.”
“A translator, hmm? What language do you speak? Where is your accent from?”
“I have quite a gift for languages. I was the main translator between Cortes, his men, and the Aztecs.”
Eva sneers. “Oh, is this when you betrayed your people? Giving Cortes secret info no how to bring down this great empire—I mean, they were a bunch of savages, but—“
“No! I have loyalty, but my loyalty was to Cortes! People cannot call me traitor, for I never betrayed him. They do not know what it was like, being a slave for years on end—all I could do to keep my mind sharp was to learn from what went on around me, to observe. Could I not help by sharing this information with the people who had elevated my status, from lowly slave to respected translator? I was the translator between Cortes and Montezuma at their very first meeting, I saw the empire fall, I was a spectator to the death of a truly impressive empire, but I helped the birth of an even better civilization!” Marina takes a deep breath, her calm demeanor disappearing in a new bout of uncharacteristic ardor. The entire restaurant has fallen silent, all eyes on the flushed face of the loud Spanish woman in the corner. She is oblivious to the attention, and keeps her focus locked on Eva’s wide eyes. “You can call me a traitor, but I do not see myself as one. I believe that what I did was necessary, and I do not need your validation.”
The silence in the restaurant amplifies, and then begins to fizzle away as quiet murmurs break out, questioning the mental health of that loud woman and what kind of establishment let her in, anyway? Eva Peron appears to be equally impressed.
“I stand corrected. As someone who fought very hard for woman’s suffrage, I should have respect for someone that does not care what others think if they believe they are doing the right thing.”
Marina sighs. “I am sorry for my outburst. But, thank you.”
“You know, the speeches I gave were often equally as impressive, I believe perhaps even more—“ Eva can’t help but say before she is cut off.
“Perhaps it would be best if we no longer discussed such subjects,” says Marina, clearly exhausted.
“Perhaps,” agrees Eva, a little disappointed. “I haven’t been feeling
quite so well lately, actually—the doctors say it isn’t anything serious, but they’re doctors, what do they know?”
“Perhaps it’s cervical cancer,” interjects the waiter in the corner. Both women turn to stare at him, and embarrassed, he feigns a sudden fascination with the empty table right next to him.
Eva turns back to look at Marina. “This Herman Cortes—is he your husband?”
“No,” responds Marina. “He—well, it wasn’t—he arranged a marriage between me and someone else—a high ranking official as well, which showed great respect for me, but—no, we were not married.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” says Eva sympathetically.
“Well, it was the norm at the time,”
“Yes, I know all about men who have concubines on the side,” says Eva, rolling her eyes. “My mother was one, if you recall.”
“You know, you and I have much more in common than one might initially think,” interjects Marina.
“For sure,” agrees Eva. And then, though both woman talked and laughed throughout the night, neither said anything of any historical or literary importance.
"Scandalous Women." : Evita. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.
"TIHOF - La Malinche: Creator or Traitor?" TIHOF - La Malinche: Creator or Traitor? N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.
Sit by a naturally-occurring body of water by yourself and spend at least 20 minutes sitting, watching, observing, etc. Start writing, keep listening etc. as you write. What lessons can we learn from water? (creative/reflective prompt)
By the River)
Everyone has time in their lives has some free time to think; but more often than not, we fight to distract ourselves. Whether consciously or unconsciously, people will turn to social media, will listen to music, will doodle in the corners of papers or on their desks; so many little parts of our lives are habits developed to distract us from boredom. People who want to distract themselves from a problem in their lives will often immerse themselves in their work or little projects, almost scared to be alone with their thoughts. As we grow older, we start to embrace downtime more and more; but young people have hardwired themselves to be terrified of boredom.
I don’t think it’s entirely from within; our society constantly pushes us to achieve the most we can, fill out our potential as much as possible; but while mental and physical health are promoted, emotional and spiritual are left behind. I know that I don’t like sitting around, doing nothing, especially when there’s so much that I have to do; and yet, I still find myself needing time to sit against a wall and take deep breaths. I wasn’t looking forward to sitting by a river, mainly because of all the homework that I had to do, so I managed to work it into a convenient time.
I went down to the river twice; both times at night, both times by the Lady Bird Lake. The first time was on the night of the homecoming dance, and I had taken enough photos for newspaper to be able to feel good about doing what I saw as a waste of time. I was also feeling a little overwhelmed by the dance, and sort of embraced a break. I sat criss-cross on the dock, took a deep breath, and looked out at the water, ready to be enlightened immediately as the prompt had suggested I would be.
The first thoughts that came to my mind were the ones that I was used to, the stresses and worries that we push back into our minds. I was stressing out about whether or not my grades were comparing well to others, I was annoyed with the vagueness of this particular prompt, I worried about people that I liked and people that I didn’t like. The kind of problems that aren’t so pressing, but that we still look for a solution to because we’d like our life to be ideal. And, in the true spirit of my age, I was worried about where exactly my life was going. This is what came to my mind when I had forced myself to not be doing anything else, and at first it was only negative emotions that I confronted, because I’d trained myself to focus on the negatives and work on making them positives. This is why I didn’t enjoy free time, and why I didn’t want to come out and do this. For me, too much time to think always ended in me feeling tired and muddled and hopeless.
The water was soothing, though. And something about being outside in the cold and hearing the water go by and the night feeling very large and very small at the same time drudged up a few things from my subconscious. Not necessarily good things at first, but not the kind of things that I was already pondering on a daily basis. While I can’t define exactly what, something about the lake unlocked a part of my brain that was usually tangled up in stress and exhaustion.
My favorite place to vacation at, Long Lake, gave me the same sense of general peace; I always read the most challenging books there, wrote the most complicated essays there. Sitting at a picnic table, infested with the spiders, seemed to bring out the most focus in me; and I think now that it may stem from the lapping of the waves, the smell of the water, and the sight of this glassy water that you can’t see the bottom of. When messing around on my computer, I like to have a looping sound of rain in the background underneath the music I listen to. My current career goal centers around being deeply involved with the oceans. The extracurricular sport I do (rowing) took place on the very lake I was trying to be conveniently enlightened by. I was drawn to water more than I realized, and it wasn’t until I had to sit down and look around that I realized why.
Water is perhaps the most lifelike of the elements. It flows down a certain path, all water heading in one direction; it flows around large rocks and abandoned garbage and well-disposed-of corpses and doesn’t actually have to stop it’s journey until it reaches something so large that it can’t get around, and then it simply rises until it can trickle over it. If we’re trying to be really philosophical and deep, this could mirror how humans ‘flow’ throughout their lives and really only notice problems that directly affect them. But I really believe that somehow, looking into a river and seeing our reflection, distorted and blurry, makes us see an alternative version of ourselves. We don’t have to see ourselves in the sharp and defined lines that others tell us we are, that society tells us we are—looking at water, we are allowed to think that maybe we’re much better or much worse than we’ve always thought. We’re allowed to embrace the person that we’ve always seen ourselves as, and with our heads clear, we can tell ourselves that making that person a defined reality is much easier than it’s always seemed.
Write out the full version of an essay about the movie that we watched in class, Whale Rider.
Whale Rider: Exploring Tradition
Tradition is essential to a society; reminiscent of the history that binds a group together, tradition is often given great respect. However, tradition can also be outdated and even harmful to a society. The movie Whale Rider helps explore the theme that the true value of tradition comes through spirit rather than guidelines through allusion, metaphor and plot.
There are many allusions sprinkled throughout the movie, most referencing the story of how the characters ancestors came to be. This myth is about how a brave individual toughed the elements and rode to their home on the back of a whale. Her name, Paikea, is even an allusion to the story. Her grandfather resists seeing this connection, even from her very birth: he did not want her father to give a girl that name, especially because it was originally designated for her deceased twin (a boy). She is shown to have many of the same qualities as this ancient and respected ancestor, even climbing onto the back of a whale at the climax of the movie and sacrificing her life to keep the ways of her people alive. She shows the quality of a true leader, though the old rules don’t allow for her to lead because she is female.
The whales that she is attempting to save are one of the three most important metaphors in the movie; they symbolize the dying culture of the indigenous people. Paikea’s grandfather is particularily affected by the tragedy of the dying whales, illustrating how deeply he cares about preserving the old culture of the people. Paikea sees the pain he is in and is willing to sacrifice herself to make her grandfather happy. Her grandfather earlier in the movie presents Paikea with a an old rope, using it to show how many little strings would make a strong rope (all people in the village had to be involved for the old ways to be strong). He attempts to keep the old ways alive by passing off his role as chief to the next male who proves himself worthy. However, he excludes the two children who show the most promise, one for being female and one for assisting that female in learning the old ways as well as showing weakness. He throws out a whale tooth necklace (a metaphor for his position as chief) and states that the boy who retrieves it first will become the new chief; every boy that he has chosen to teach fails. Paikea later retrieves the necklace, showing that she has true leadership qualities.
However, the plot of the movie has her grandfathers sexist prejudice as the driving conflict throughout most of the movie, which emphasizes the issues that tradition can have. Though the old ways are dying out, the grandfather sticks steadfast to his guidelines like a captain going down with his ship. Women are not allowed to be village leaders, and so her grandfather, though he loves her, is not willing to take her seriously. It’s only after the climax of the plot, after Paikeas near death, that he accepts that she has the spirit of a leader and that that is what’s truly important.
Overall, tradition is what guides and comforts us, but we have to learn to allow for it to adapt for it to remain truly successful.