I explored the Urin Library with classmates Gloria and Purva
during our lunch break.
Today we learned about the contrasting theologies of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. Professor Kramnick articulated an intriguing lecture about Augustine's cynical view of man as evil creatures driven by passions, and Aquinas' belief that humans are capable of reason. The philosophers' differing views of human nature gave root to different ideologies of justice, morality, law, and the role of government.
In our discussion groups, we further delved into the fundamentals of each philosopher's theories. Augustine states men are intrinsically evil and their tendency to be such can only be overcome by work or force. His cynical view seems contradicted when he writes that humans pursue peace, but he goes on to say that people pursue peace because of what material goods or rewards peace will bring. Aquinas, on the other hand, has a more optimistic view of humans as reasonable creatures who seek virtue and government is therefore organized by virtue. However, he acknowledges that there are few people of perfect virtue.
|Christian and I analyzing Robin Waterfield's translation of The Republic by Plato.|
Both philosophers had very strong arguments, and I am glad I read many of St. Augustine's texts before in my AP English Language and Composition class. During the lecture, in fact, Professor Kramnick mentioned Mark Twain's The War Prayer, a piece of literature he found fascinating, and one that I had read. I was also more prepared than the other students in that I was able to read the class texts much earlier, and I am very grateful. Reading before coming to Cornell definitely helped, and Christian, Tamilyn, and I also organized a short study session today. We were not able to cover all 113 pages of Plato together, but it definitely helped to collaborate and share ideas.