Up@dawn 2.0

Friday, June 24, 2016

DQs for June 29th class

Discussion Questions for June 29th class.

Don Enss

Locke argued that we are not born with any innate ideas or knowledge about anything. Everything we know, we have to learn from outside ourselves. The mind is (in Locke’s most famous metaphor) a tabula rasa, a blank slate. Do you agree or disagree? How does this affect the nature/nurture discussions?

In “Slowness,” Gros says, “It is one of the secrets of walking: a slow approach to landscapes that gradually renders them familiar, and that “the lesson was that in walking the authentic sign of assurance is a good slowness.” Why in “Solitudes” does he say, “When I am walking I always observe myself, egg myself on?” This sounds like a more competitive striving to achieve the goal rather than enjoying the moment. Do you agree or disagree and why?


Plato glorified Sparta, he saw only what he viewed as its ideal society, but what do we really know about Spartan society. Might it have been viewed more realistically and less romantically by individuals who had to live within it? Would North Korea today be an example of a Platonian Ideal society?

1 comment:

  1. Good questions!

    We're definitely not literal tabula rasa, we've learned a lot since Locke's time about our prenatal predispositions and hard-wiring - Steven Pinker's "The Blank Slate" summarizes. BUT, walkers know that we're just blank and impressionable enough to benefit greatly from attentiveness to our surroundings. So we should reject the letter but embrace the spirit of the claim, I think.

    Let me give some thought to the "egging on" question...

    Sparta as popularly depicted makes N.Korea look almost good. Makes me wonder if we can possibly reconstruct Platonism for our time, or if the intervening centuries have changed us (for the better) too much to make the project worth the time. But I'm still cracking the door for Plato, we'll read Goldstein's "Plato at the Googleplex" next Fall and I'll get back to you.

    ReplyDelete