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Mission Statement

Mission Statement:

I believe an education is the key that unlocks our potential in life. I believe in the power of knowledge, and I am deeply passionate when it comes to learning new things and becoming a well-rounded person. Education may start in the school system but I intend to carry my love for learning with me to the grave, and help others learn along the way. If there is one thing I will always remember from this class, it is your story about the books your teacher gave you. It shows that opportunities for learning are all around and we must take advantage of that. 

To help the community, I went back to the school where my education began. The Preschool Co-Op at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension (located on Apopka-Vineland Road) is a non-profit preschool organization and was established in 1989, and recently it has come very close to being shut down due to the lack of participation. My brother, sister and I all attended it between the years of 1993 and 2005, and my mother was the Director from 2002-2005. The church community decided to tear down the old wooden playground and build a brand new one, as a symbol of the school’s hopeful revitalization. My brother Jeremy is about a month away from earning the rank of Eagle Scout, and for his eagle project he organized the building of a new sandbox for the new playground. I wanted to participate and give back, so I took the day off work and helped him (Saturday, April 23rd.) It is not a finished product yet, but we have another day planned next month to finish it and I plan on helping that day too. It is important to me that the preschool not be shut down, because I grew up there and have so many memories of that place, and anything we can do to help it is great. It would be a terrible thing if it were to be shut down, and other children didn’t have that wonderful educational opportunity anymore, like I did.


“If a man neglects education, he walks lame to the end of his life.”
-Plato

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Midterm Question: Early Philosophy

Medusa, from Greek Mythology

The ancient greeks were known for their many gods and myths that were created as a way to explain the world. Around the time of the sixth century BCE, however, an emergence of the emphasis on rationality in Greek thinking occurred. This was brought on by the early philosophers, more commonly known as the “presocratics,” because they lived before Socrates’ time. These presocratics were the first group of people to form their own theories outside of the common religious ones that existed in ancient greek time. Their ideas on life and the essence of humanity were what caused them to “turn away from religious teachings, [and use] the power of human reason to try to discover how the world came into being…”. It was not their answers that made them important, but instead, the questions and ideas they asked about humanity that made such an impact on human life, and continues to do so today.

The schools that existed in this era focused primarily on discussing these questions and sharing knowledge of “logic and theoretical reasoning to solve practical questions about the world and human existence.” The questions they raised concerned: logic (the validity of arguments), ethics (morality), and aesthetics (arts and beauty). However, most importantly, they developed insight into epistemology (knowledge), and political philosophy. Mere acceptance of human existence was not enough for the ancient greeks, as seen through the stories or myths that they created in order to explain how things came to be and how we know the things we know. They believed there was something deeper, that there had to be some sort of order in life.

Thales of Miletus

The presocratics that raised questions of epistemological nature were considered Rationalists, who believed that not everything we know comes from experience or our senses. On the other side were Empiricists, who believed that we have gained our knowledge strictly through experience and our senses. One of the other groups that have proven to have had among the most important philosophical ideas are the Monists, who believed the world is comprised of one basic “stuff”, or “arché”. Thales, one of the outstanding Monists, began the “Greek tradition of free discussion of ideas in the marketplace and other public areas,” breaking the previous tradition of knowledge being available to the “elite” only.

A current event in our world today that is being greatly affected by these philosophical views is the revolt against Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and the resulting uproar of ethical and political issues in the rest of North Africa and the middle east. For nearly three weeks, the Egyptian people protested the government and demanded that Mubarak step down from his position as President. After thirty years of his rule, the civilians finally decided to act for what they really wanted. The early greek philosophical concept of epistemology directly influenced the emergence of democracy, which is what the people of Egypt were fighting for. Under epistemology falls the notion of knowledge, and this is essential to rational decision making. Democracy is a concept that truly requires a “free discussion of ideas”, in the words of Thales. Epistemology is a necessary philosophic component in democracy, seeing as the theory of knowledge and rational decision making are among the key concepts behind democracy in itself.

Crowd riots in Egypt in January, 2011

Although the “free discussion of ideas” from early greek times is translated into violent outbreaks and protests in this situation, the same philosophy still applies here. The revolution in the middle east correlates to that of the philosophical revolution in early Greece because in both situations, the civilians and not just the “elite” are coming together to change the way things are, with hopes for a better society.

 

 

 

 

Resources:

Cunningham/Reich. “Cultures and Values.” Cultures and Values Vol. 1. Ed. Maureen Staudt. Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning: 2009.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/democracy/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/30/egypt-revolution-2011_n_816026.html

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Writing Assignment 1: Greco-Persian War

By: Stephanie Williams

The western world as it is familiar to us today would be completely different if the events of the Greco-Persian war had ended with Persian victory. Not only would the United States of America be more likely to not even exist today, but the impact of Greek government, philosophy, architecture, and art would also have never made its influence on the rest of the world if the Persian Monarchy had been victorious and taken root.

Herodotus explains the entirety of the Greco-Persian war in great detail in his

routes traveled during Greco-Persian war

Histories. The first invasion of Greece by Persia was headed by King Darius, and under command of Datis and Artaphernes in 492 BC. The attempt failed and Darius was working on planning out the second conquest when he died. His son Xerxes was appointed to the throne in succession to his father, and led the second invasion of Greece. In the seventh book, Herodotus explains that Xerxes was advised by his uncle Artabanus to not go to war with the Greeks. To which, Xerxes says, “Thou shalt not come with me to fight these Greeks, but shalt tarry here with the women. Without thy aid I will accomplish all of which I spake.” According to Herodotus, Xerxes was troubled by his uncle’s advice and then had a dream where “a tall, beautiful man” was questioning his decision to forego the war. Xerxes woke, but shook off the dream and declared that they would in fact not be going to war. The next night, however, the same vision appeared, and when he woke, Xerxes told his uncle he had to go to war. He ordered the Persian men to prepare for the war, which would eventually lead to their demise.

King Xerxes

All of the values, ideas, and historical importances of the Greek culture that spread around the world and have become a core component of the foundation and studies of the western world would not be known today if the Persians had in fact defeated the Greeks. The influence of Greek government in the western world is probably one of the biggest contributions in our country, and that would have been greatly affected had the Persians won the war. Instead of being the democratically influenced society that America is today, we would probably mirror the Monarchy of the Persian Empire. Democracy would have perished along with Greece if it had been overtaken by the Persians, and America would not be the land of opportunity that we know, let alone, perhaps, even be discovered yet.

Though government style is one of the major things we borrowed from the Greek

Raphael's "School of Athens", portraying Plato, Aristotle and other Ancient Philosophers

civilization, the political aspects are only one subject of many that helped form the western world. Greek Philosophers were responsible for the advancement in intellect, which was a breakthrough concept and whose ideas questioned humanity and life itself. There were three main philosophers from ancient Greek times that we still look up to today. Socrates (469-399 BC), the Athenian philosopher, was preoccupied with the “thoughts and opinions of people”, and was also the creator of the famous quote, “All I know is that I know nothing.” He was also one of the first to step out and promote the disbelief in the Greek city gods. He was more interested in rationality than superstitions or the like, and introduced the concept of rationalism to humanity. Plato (428-348 BC), was a follower of Socrates, but formed his own opinions on knowledge. He argued for the theory of forms, that everything we know in life is just a copy of the real and the good. These “copies” were ultimately derived “from a sense” and therefore we could never gain an accurate knowledge of “true being” from them. His philosophies were important because science and physics the way we know them today were shaped around his ideas. Aristotle (384-322 BC), was considered the “greatest philosopher of Greek antiquity.” He disagreed with Plato, saying that there was no separation between an object’s matter and true form. He was also an influence on many modern thinkers, including René Descartes, the father of the idea, “I think; therefore I am,” and many others that influenced the western world such as Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, and their theories were prominent in laying out the foundation for America.

the Pantheon

Greek architecture is still a prominent part of society here in America. The Pantheon was a monumental structure created by the Greeks because of its function and beauty. The columns and geometrical shapes made it an ideal and sensible structure that could endure weather, and host many citizens all at once. The Pantheon is the model after which the American Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. was constructed and stands as a reminder of the strength and legacy of the Greek civilization of which we looked up to when building our own society. It is even present in homes and offices today, and is a common part of the western world that was borrowed from the Greeks.

Greek Epics by Homer

The Greeks were known as being an incredibly creative people. They had a great interest in the array of the arts, including literature, sculpture, theater, etc. Preclassical Greek literature brought the birth of the epic novel,  created by Homer. The two works of literature that stand out are the Iliad and the Odyssey. These two novels are commonly studied in schools still today and are respected as some of the oldest works of literature we have today. Greek art was mostly concerned with depicting the many greek myths and portraying people as extremely beautiful, and was an early inspiration for later artists such as DaVinci and Michelangelo. Greek plays were put on in the amphitheatre and the Comedic/Tragic style later found its way into later works such as Shakespeare.

None of the aforementioned parts of the influential Greek culture would have ever made its way from the ancient times and been brought back during the Renaissance and modern day western world if the Persians had defeated them. These valued objects, ideals and philosophies would have been lost. Because the Persians were not as stable a society as the Greeks, and were diminished shortly after the war, we cannot say for sure what their reign would have been like or what kind of artifacts it might have produced, but we can recognize these Greek artifacts and values as parts of our every day lives in the western world; a world that may not have even existed if the Greco-Persian war hadn’t turned out the way it did.

Resources:

http://classics.mit.edu/Herodotus/history.7.vii.html

http://www.iep.utm.edu/greekphi/#H2

Cunningham/Reich. “Cultures and Values.” Cultures and Values Vol. 1. Ed. Maureen Staudt. Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning: 2009.

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