Honour and Certainty?

Hint: consider the focus questions for this course.


“Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument,
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
When honour’s at the stake.” (Act 4 Scene 4, from Hamlet’s “How all occasions do inform against me” soliloquy)

Discuss the ideas developed by William Shakespeare in Hamlet about the ways in which individuals struggle to restore honour and certainty.

In your planning and writing, consider the following instructions:
• Carefully consider your controlling idea(thesis) and how you will create a strong unifying effect in your response.
• As you develop your ideas, support them with appropriate, relevant, and meaningful examples.
• Organize your discussion so that your ideas are clearly and effectively presented.
Grapple with the intricacies of the human condition and the fundamentals of human existence, quibble about ideas related to certainty(vs doubt) and honour(vs character).

Write a short story about a character who has lost a close family member and seeks revenge but is unable to because of some sort of doubt.

In your planning and writing, consider the following instructions:
• Carefully consider your setting, characters, and main conflict.
• Add more conflict when things appear too easily solved, but don’t solve the main conflict.
• Have your character change how they feel about the idea of revenge they held early in your story.
• End your story with tragedy.
• Connect to the ideas developed by William Shakespeare in Hamlet and your own ideas and experiences.

Reflect on a moment when you received some unexpected news and thought, “This news will change my life?” As you think back, to what extent did it change your life?

In your planning and writing, consider the following instructions:
• Carefully consider how you will create a strong unifying effect in your response.
• As you develop your ideas, support them with appropriate, relevant, and meaningful examples.
• Organize your discussion so that your ideas are clearly and effectively presented.
• Connect to your own interests, experiences, values ideas. Share personal anecdotes.

Younger Students and the Existence of God

  1. The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world.
  2. We see that things which lack knowledge, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result.
  3. Hence it is plain that they achieve their end, not fortuitously, but designedly.
  4. Now whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is directed by the archer.
  5. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.

— From the Summa Theologica, Part 1, Question 1, Article 1, by Thomas Aquinas

Do We Really Know What We Think We Know?

  1. Socrates: Consider, do you not think it a sound statement that one must not value all the opinions of people but some and not others, nor the opinions of all people but those of some and not others? What do you say? Is this not well said?
    Crito: It is.
  2. Socrates: One should value the good opinions, and not the bad ones?
    Crito: Yes.
    Socrates: The good opinons are those of wise people, the bad opinions those of foolish ones.
    Crito: Of course.
  3. Socrates: Come then, what of statements such as this: Should a person professionally engaged in physical training pay attention to the praise and blame and opinion of anyone, or to those of one person only, namely a doctor or trainer?
    Crito: To those of one only.
  4. Socrates: The person in training should therefore fear the blame and welcome the praise of that one individual, and not those of the many?
    Crito: Obviously.
    Socrates: This person must then act and exercise, eat and drink in the way the one, the trainer and the one who knows, thinks right, not all the others?
    Crito: That is so.
    Socrates: Very well. And if this person disobeys the one, disregards the opinions and praises while valuing those of the many who have no knowledge, will he or she not suffer harm?
    Crito: Of course.
    Socrates: What is that harm, where does it tend, and what part of the person who disobeys does it affect?
    Crito: Obviously the harm is to his body, which it ruins.
  5. Socrates: Well said. So with other matters … and certainly with actions just and unjust, shameful and beautiful, good and bad, about which we are now deliberating, should we follow the opinion of the many and fear it, or that of the one — if there is one who has knowledge of these things and before whom we feel fear and shame more than before all the others. If we do not follow the directions of this person, we shall harm and corrupt that part of ourselves that is improved by just actions and destroyed by unjust actions. Or is there nothing in this?
    Crito: I think there certainly is, Socrates.
  6. Socrates: Come now, if we ruin that which is improved by health and corrupted by disease by not following the opinions of those who know, is life worth living for us when it is ruined? And that is the body, is it not?
    Crito: Yes.
    Socrates: And is life worth living with a body that is corrupted and in bad condition?
    Crito: In no way.
  7. Socrates: And is life worth living for us with that part of us corrupted that unjust action harms and just action benefits? Or do we think that part of us, whatever it is, that is concerned with justice and injustice, is inferior to the body?
    Crito: Not at all.
    Socrates: It is more valuable?
    Crito: Much more.
  8. Socrates: We should not then think so much of what the majority will say about us, but what that person will say who understands justice and injustice, the one, that is, and the truth itself. So that … you were wrong to believe that we should care for the opinion of the many about what is just, beautiful, good, and their opposites.

— From the Crito by Plato

Where Has the Time Gone?

  1. What, then, is time? There can be no quick and easy answer, for it is no simple matter even to understand what it is, let alone find words to explain it.
  2. I know well enough what it is, provided that nobody asks me; but if I am asked what it is and try to explain, I am baffled.
  3. All the same I can confidently say that I know that if nothing passed, there would be no past time; if nothing were going to happen, there would be no future time; and if nothing were, there would be no present time.
  4. Thus it is not strictly correct to say that there are three times, past, present, and future. It might be correct to say that there are three times, a present of past things, a present of present things, and a present of future things. Some such different times do exist in the mind, but no where else that I can see. The present of past things is the memory; the present of present things is direct perception; and the present of future things is expectation.
  5. It seems to me, then, that time is merely an extension, though of what it is an extension I do not know. I begin to wonder whether it is an extension of the mind itself.
  6. It is in my own mind, then, that I measure time. I must not allow my mind to insist that time is something objective… I say that I measure time in my mind. For everything which happens leaves an impression on it, and this impression remains after the thing itself has ceased to be. It is the impression that I measure, since it is still present, not the thing itself, which makes the impression as it passes and then moves into the past. When I measure time it is the impression that I measure.
  7. It can only be that the mind … performs three functions, those of expectation, attention, and memory. The future, which it expects, passes through the present, to which it attends, into the past, which it remembers. No one would deny that the future does not yet exist or that the past no longer exists. Yet in the mind there is both expectation of the future and remembrance of the past.

— From Book XI of the Confessions by St. Augustune

Who Are My Friends?

  1. No one would choose to live without friends if he had all other goods.
  2. When people are friends, they have no need of justice, but when they are just, they need friendship in addition.
  3. We conclude, therefore, that to be friends, men must have good will for one another, must each wish for the good of the other on the basis of one of three motives(the good, the pleasant, and the useful), and must each be aware of one another’s good will.
  4. The three motives differ from one another in kind, and so do the corresponding types of affection and friendship.
  5. Now, when the motive of the affection is usefulness, the partners do not feel affection for one another as such, but in terms of the good accruing to each from the other. The same is also true of those whose friendship is based on pleasure; we love witty people not for what they are, but for the pleasure they give us… Accordingly, with the disappearance of the motive for being friends, the friendship, too, is dissolved, since the friendship owed its existence to these motives.
  6. The perfect form of friendship is that between good people who are alike in excellence or virtue. For these friends wish alike for one another’s good because they are good people, and they are good as such… Hence, their friendship lasts as long as they are good, and that means it will last a long time, since goodness or virtue is a thing that lasts.

— From Book 8 of the Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle