THREE PAPERS: TOPICS (2-4 pages)
1. Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence, authored by Thomas Jefferson. Yet, Frederick Douglass and Lucretia Mott spoke for constituencies not covered by its principles. How did they appeal to the central doctrines and revolutionary ideas of Jefferson to make a case for their respective constituencies? and who were they? You are to include in your paper the reasons why Jefferson, Mott and Douglass incorporated Lockean natural law theory into their ideas. What is the nature of Locke's influence? From your own personal beliefs, are arguments based on natural law theory credible for our own times?
2. How can Marx and the major themes of the Communist Manifesto be applied to your personal experiences as a worker and/or student? For instance, you may talk about your encounters with discrimination based on age, sex, race, class, and ethnic identity. How much must Marx be updated to make his analysis of the capitalist mode of production a relevant frame of analysis for explaining your current situation in life? Write in terms of concepts of alienation, theory of labor power and its exploitation, private versus individual property, employers' and or university's responsibilities, and "just" profits and/or tuition. Is a student union feasible at Temple University to organize power for the people?
3. Elie Wiesel wrote the classic work of the Holocaust called NIGHT. Can one give an objective account of a major historical event if one is a victim? In other words, can we make any scientific observations of a universal nature from the perspective of one man's personal tragedy? In what way is Wiesel's account of interest to us today? What kind of a man wrote this book of his adolescent experiences?
4. Compulsory Rewrite No. 1
I have reconstructed the essay's format as follows. This essay differs in terms of terminological boundaries from the first two page papers; hence, we will be considering it a singular, second and final term assignment. No one is exempt from this paper no matter what grade you received on the first homework. The essay is not to exceed four pages in its ultimate formulation. There will be two papers on Marx and the Wiesel/Dr. King dialogue. The latter essays will be two pages each.
Part One: The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are two aspects of the first American Revolution. What issues did they resolve? What documents are pertinent to the second American Revolution? Conclude this section of your paper with an analysis of how John Meynard Keynes influenced the third American Revolution of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal’s policies.
Part Two of the essay will be a comparison of the three revolutions and how it helped to form an American identity. Is natural law theory the thread that ties together these three critical periods in our history? Do you feel as if you are an American who has his/her full rights? If not, what do we have to undertake as a national collectivity to ensure that all partake of the benefits of our society? The following three events will define the subject matter of your essay.
a. The American Revolution as a response to English oppression
b. Reconstruction as a response to the problem of mainstreaming freed blacks and the victory
of the North over the South in the Civil War
c. The New Deal as a response to a world depression
THIS PAPER WILL USE MATERIALS DISCUSSED ONLY IN THE CLASS, TEXTS, AND MY WEB SITE NOTES. NO OTHER POSSIBILITIES ARE PERMITTED. TO DO OTHERWISE, YOU RISK FAILURE FOR THE PAPER AND POSSIBLY THE COURSE FOR PLAGIARISM.
History does repeat itself. What would Wiesel say to us in this class about our reading list? Does reading the classics prepare us for life when a historical cataclysm really does happen?
In your conclusion, create an imaginary dialogue between the living Wiesel and the martyred Dr. Martin Luther King about the nature of the rationality of humankind and the effectiveness of legislation of civil rights laws.
EXTRA CREDIT (0-5 Points)
Oskar Schindler found himself in a state of nature during WWII. He was responsible personally for the safety of 1,100 of his Jewish workers whom he harbored from the extermination center of Auschwitz--at great personal risk.
Can his behavior be described by Lockean principles of rationality of the trustee/beneficiary relationship? Or is that a fiction? Does an understanding of the natural laws of the universe describe his heroic conduct and that of is wife, Emilie? For example, he was a radical atheist and nominal member of the Nazi party, his wife a devout Roman Catholic. Thus, morality can be seen in religious and nonreligious people. Obviously, other motivations must be taken into account.
We have talked about over determination in which several factors impinge upon an individual to form his behavior. Could he have been driven by unconscious factors?
Thus, ask the following questions?
1. What is the moral of the movie?!
2. Why did Oskar Schindler, who was a self-centered opportunist politically and economically, risk his life for strangers? When and why did he get involved?
3. Put yourself in his place. What would you have done? Would you have the will to act on your initial impulses? Do you have the faculty of mature judgment to have been able to understand that historical circumstances and the necessity to be and act responsibly?
4. Are there any universal principles, derived from natural law theory, that can be applied to troubled areas in the world today? Make such a statement your conclusion.
For extra credit, I ask Temple University students, can you tell a joke? For up to five points on your final grade, tell me a detailed personal joke or a personal parapraxis with its psychoanalytical meaning, drawn from our readings, classroom discussions, or life experiences. It must be humorous, relatively clean, and not insulting of any minority group.
I related this assignment orally to a class last semester. They understood, except for one French student, who asked must the joke be sexual. The class howled with laughter. They hurt her secondary narcissism because even after I explained to her why they laughed she did not understand. The defense mechanism of repression was in effect. In my own frustration, I asked her, "You really don’t get it!" She ran to the director of the program to lodge a complaint, in tears. Together, we repaired her injured ego. But I believe to this day she does not understand that behind a joke lies dammed up libido. She is not stupid but has to block out unacceptable feelings of her sexuality by denying its existence. How unfortunate.
Kafka's The Trial is, arguably, considered the greatest novel of the twentieth century. In the church, Josef K. meets a priest, who relates to him the parable of the doorkeeper. There are layers of meaning in terms of what Kafka is describing to his reader. What is the riddle that Kafka is relating to the reader through his alter ego in Josef K.? Is life just and does Kafka imply that there is no final judgment other than stipulated in a highly compromised way in statutory law in the world here and now? Has God fled Kafka's universe, leaving man adrift, radically alone in his despair? Is there any hope in finding laws that orient people to righteous conduct in the book's philosophy? In conclusion, tell me what criteria makes this novel a classic.