Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Morning with Saints

Last night's homework was to read selections from the course packet and Princeton reader about Christian theologians St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. During the morning lecture, Professor Kramnick contrasted their views on human nature and then discussed their distinct ideas of the role of government .
I pass by the Ezra Cornell Memorial Statue everyday on my way to class

Augustine lived during the fourth century A.D, when the Roman emperor made Christianity the state religion. With this religion officially recognized in the classical world of Roman antiquity, Augustine conveyed quite a pessimistic view of humanity. He argues that the human race was condemned by original sin and the institution of government was meant to restrain, torture, and punish them for their evil inclinations. Even though such actions seemed extreme, Professor Kramnick briefly justified Augustine's proposals as acts of love and that they actually help humans purify their souls in order to enter the City of God.

Aquinas, however, lived during the thirteenth century, when Christianity was well established in the late Middle Ages. He asserted that humans are capable of living a moral life, but just need the assistance of government. Therefore, the binding force of natural law allows for the government to reveal to the citizens what is right and wrong. During our discussion session, we further identified the differences between St. Augustine and St. Aquinas. Even before the morning's lecture, I had prior knowledge of their theologies thanks to my AP English Language and Composition course because we read excerpts by both Christian thinkers. In addition, my fellow cohorts Jenna, Tamilyn, and I received the reading material prior to our arrival in Ithaca (thanks to the ILC), so we had the advantageous opportunity to comprehend the texts before the other students.This greatly helped me understand today's material and be able to contribute during our discussion. 

After our writing workshop, where we revised the freedom essays we wrote on Monday, Jenna, Tamilyn, and I decided to have a brief study session to review Plato's The Republic-our reading assignment for tonight. Collaborating with one another and discussing our thoughts on the material was very beneficial and I am grateful to be able to do this with them.
Jenna, Tamilyn, and myself reviewing Plato in my dorm room

By 6 PM, my cohort and I met with Mr. Chan-Law to talk about our courses and our student/campus lives thus far. Afterward, we all decided to eat dinner together at RPCC, a rare but very pleasant occasion. Once I returned to my dorm room, I did a final review of The Republic and jotted down important notes to make sure my comprehension of the text was complete. I feel very confident about tomorrow and cannot wait to explore the world of Plato.

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