1. "'Are You My Mother?:' A Catholic Analysis of a Children's Classic," by the Satirical Rogue
2. "How Ideas Work: The Difference Between Locke and Hume." by Brandon Paradise
3. "What Descartes Really Knows." by Brandon Paradise
4. "The "Co-mingling" of Nature and Love in the Poetry of Dafydd ap Gwilym." by Anne Eva Dewar
5. "The Hidden Relationship Between Government & Media." by the Rhetorical Ronin
6. "An Examination of the Debate Between Creationism and Evolutionism Based on the Argument Presented By Ernst Mayr," by Brian Park
Download the January Forum,
and read at your leisure
"'Are You My Mother?:' A Catholic Analysis of a Children's Classic," by the Satirical Rogue
To read this article, click HERE.
Back to Index
"How Ideas Work: The Difference Between Locke and Hume." by Brandon Paradise
If we are to understand the difference between Locke and Hume’s account of how ideas work, we must forth set the pertinent terms of each of their arguments. The two essential terms in Locke’s discussion of how ideas work are idea and object. Locke defines an idea as "whatsoever is the object of the understanding when a man thinks" (Cahn, 494). Locke has "used [idea] to express whatever is meant by phantasm, notion, species, or whatever it is that the mind can be employed about in thinking" (Cahn, 494-495). In other words, an idea, for Locke, is something you use in your mind to think about other things, while an object, in Locke, is what the mind is employed about when thinking. In Hume’s argument perception, is equivalent to Locke’s definition of idea, which is "whatsoever is the object of the understanding when a man thinks" (Cahn, 494).
Locke says that all ideas originate from experience, which he breaks down into sensation and reflection. To use Locke’s language, "Our observation employed either, about external sensible objects, or about the internal operations of our minds perceived and reflected on by ourselves, is that which supplies our understanding with all the materials of thinking" (Cahn, 497). By our ‘observation being employed about external sensible objects’, Locke is speaking of what he terms sensation, which is the senses conveying into mind perceptions of things outside of our minds and thereby causing ideas arise in the mind. By our observation being employed about the internal operations of our own minds, Locke is referring to ideas that are gotten from "the mind [taking] notice of its own operations, and the manner of them, by reason whereof there come to be ideas of these operations in the understanding (Cahn, 497). Locke calls this, reflection. According to Hume, the mind has nothing but perceptions, which he divides into two categories: impressions and ideas. Impressions are the most lively perceptions, examples of which are "hearing, seeing, feeling, loving, hating, desiring, and willing" (Cahn, 634). Ideas "are the less lively perceptions of which we are conscious when we reflect on any of those sensations or movements above mentioned" (634). In Hume, then, ideas are copies of impressions.
Sensations are for Locke what impressions are for Hume, and, similarly, reflection is for Locke what ideas are for Hume. It is important to mention here that Hume’s argument does not differentiate between ideas and their objects as Locke’s does. For Locke, ideas are of their objects. For instance, an idea is of a physical object, but it is not the physical object. If an idea is of a mental act, its object is the internal operations of the mind, which the idea is of. In Hume, however, no such separation between idea and object occurs. In Hume’s words, "the mind never has anything present to it but the perceptions, and cannot possibly reach any experience of their connexion with objects. The supposition of such a connexion, is, therefore, without any foundation in reasoning" (Jones, 311). In other words, there is nothing but perceptions. A consequence of this is that there can not be anything beyond perceptions. This contrasts sharply from Locke’s account, which, as mentioned, holds that there is an object that an idea is of. This requires that there is something beyond perception, whether it is the physical world or the internal operations of a mind. We can think of this as the mind connecting with the outside world or the internal operations of its self in order to receive perceptions. In Hume, on the other hand, perceptions are not in-between the mind and its object; perceptions are the object.
Locke’s account claims that an object causally affects the mind and thereby gives rise to an idea. Locke attempts to justify the apparent causality of our perceptions by arguing the origins of perception in a causal object to mind relationship, which he does not adequately elucidate. Hume, on the hand, acknowledges that our ideas appear to have causal relationships with one another, and explicates why people would think ideas originate causally. He explains, however, that there must be something wrong with the premise that ideas are causal because there is no rational explanation for this causality. There is just a mysterious jump from object to mind. Hume observes that all we know are perceptions, and that, consequently, we cannot know anything beyond perceptions, for "it seems a proposition that will not admit of much dispute, that all our ideas are nothing but copies of our impressions, or, in other words, that it is impossible for us to think of anything, which we have not antecedently felt, either by our external or internal senses" (Cahn, 652).
According to Hume’s analysis, the belief that mental and physical substances have a distinct existence is a fiction. Every perception is an independent entity. We believe that a perception persist through time because we see a perception that resembles a previous perception. We fill in the time between one perception and another and create the fiction that physical and mental substances persist through time. For instance, if I leave the room and come back, I will have no conclusive evidence that the computer I return to will be the same computer as before. I believe that it is the same computer because it resembles the computer I typed on before. Hume, however, argues that the computer before I left the room cannot be the same computer I see when I return to the room. Because I differentiate between the computer before I left the room and the one I now see, the computers cannot be a unity, and they, therefore, cannot be identical. The object that I conceive of as the computer before I left the room is certainly not the same as the computer is now, for I can think of two separate computers. There is no substance that is independent of my perception of these two separate computers that contains the identity of a computer that persisted through time, for both perceptions are of particulars. Therefore, physical substance does not exist, for such a substance would require a persisting impression.
Similarly, we come to believe that mental substance, like the mind, exist because we believe that perceptions persist through time. We believe that the mind contains our unbroken chain of perceptions. When we come to the knowledge, however, that there are no persisting impressions, that there is only a succession of perceptions, we come to see that the imagination constructs the place (the mind) where we suppose our perceptions to dwell. All our perceptions are of particulars, and thus there is no closet where perceptions abide. There cannot be a mind that keeps a perception conscious in our mind when a perception never persist in order to be kept conscious. The notion that our mind has ideas that we are aware of becomes moot. It is more accurate to say that the mind is a bundle of successive perceptions. The mind’s existence is, consequently, successive, as are the perceptions that define it and compose it; in short, the mind is not an entity distinct from perceptions; it is not a closet. Therefore, ideas do not arise in the mind as they do in Locke.
Hume posits that every perception is an independent entity; and that the imagination fills in the gaps between our perceptions, and we thus come to believe that perceptions are causal. Hume’s account of ideas, then, claims that the mind imposes causality upon the world, while Locke believes that the mind interprets order from the world. Locke’s explanation on how the mind interprets the order of the world is unclear. Hume avoids this unclarity by reversing the direction that the order is flowing. According to Hume, all perceptions are discrete. But we believe them to be indiscrete because one perception naturally introduces another. He explains this by the Association of Ideas, which consists of resemblance, contiguity in time or place, and cause or effect. Resemblance is referring to the observation that a picture refers our thoughts to its original; contiguity to the fact that a component naturally introduces the other components of the whole; and cause or effect to the fact that an event that we have previously experienced, and whose consequence we have formerly observed, naturally introduces its effect when the event is reflected on and vice versa.
The result of Hume’s association of ideas is that the mind observes a discrete flow of perceptions, and then imagines them to be continuous. "All events seem to be entirely loose and separate. One event follows another, but we never observe any tie between them. They seem conjoined, but never connected" (Cahn, 657). Hume argues that the belief that perceptions are continuous leads people to believe that perception result from objects that are independent of the particular perceptions one observes. In other words, the belief of continuity leads to the belief that perception originates from the object that the mind either is impacted by. The belief that the mind is impacted by something gives us the notion of the stability of perception (as if perceptions flow from a constant source), and that we need only turn our thoughts to the source of perception to receive the same perception that the source delivered to us before.
Out of necessity, Locke elided an elucidation of the process by which the mind is impacted to give rise to an idea. Hume, on the other hand, went around this problem, and, in fact, called it a false problem. As discussed above, perceptions are discrete. Hume says two characteristics of experience, constancy and coherence, make discrete perceptions appear indiscrete. Constancy refers to the imagination filling in the intervals between perceptions as discussed above. Coherence refers to the fact that perceptions are patterned; that is, perceptions are somewhat ordered. Constancy and coherence are a result of the three principles of connection: resemblance, contiguity, and causality, which are effects of the minds operations on its perceptions. Consequently, ideas appear to be indiscrete because of our psychology. In other words, the mind has a tendency to operate in such a way (as described above in the discussion of the Association of Ideas) to make ideas work the way we usually believe they do—smoothly. In Locke, on the other hand, the mind does not make ideas work the way they do; it does not make the discrete indiscrete. Rather, the mind possesses ideas as they are; it has a mental representation of its object, which turns out to be a veil between the mind and its object. In Hume, on the other hand, the perception is it itself the veil but what it prevents us from knowing is beyond our comprehension. Thus, the central difference between Locke and Hume on how ideas work is that Locke runs into the problem of being unable to discover the causal process that his argument is founded on, which is that an object gives rise to ideas in the mind. Hume, on the other hand, gives a logical account of what he can access, and does not attempt to go beyond the reach of perceptions. In Hume’s words "to know the different operations of the mind, separate them from each other, class them under their proper heads, correct all their seeming disorder…if we can go no further than this mental geography, or delineation of the distinct parts and powers of the mind, it is at least a satisfaction to go so far" (Jones, 299).
Back to Index
"What Descartes Really Knows." by Brandon Paradise
Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy includes a proof for the existence of material objects, such as trees. Descartes accomplishes this by first doubting all things, from which he learns that he can be certain of nothing but his own existence as a thinking thing. From this established certainty, Descartes is able to provide proof for the existence of God, and, finally proof of the existence of material objects. Descartes’ proof of God, however, from which the proof of material things is made possible, is suspect: the proof relies on knowledge of clear and distinct ideas but knowledge of clear and distinct ideas relies on the existence of God. Furthermore, even if Descartes could manage to escape this circular method of proof, Descartes’ proof of his own existence is problematic.
Descartes begins his series of proofs by assailing the foundations of everything he once believed to be true. He reasons that all false principles will come crashing down as the foundations upon which they stand are brought to nothing. But, that he can at least be certain of those principles that remain. And if nothing remains, he can at least be certain that there is nothing of which he can be certain.
Descartes tells us that everything that he has "so far accepted as true [he] learned either from the senses or through the senses" (Biffle, 22). In light of this, Descartes proceeds to inquire into the reliability of the senses, the foundations upon which all his beliefs have so far rested. Descartes recalls the fact that the senses deceive him every night in his dreams. Specifically, he recalls the many times that he has believed himself to be awake, when he was in fact asleep. His dreams might tell him that he is reading a book, feeling the pages with his hands, and sitting near the warmth of a delightful fire. Yet, all of this is false, Descartes argues. His senses deceive him. He is not reading a book; neither is he feeling its pages with his hands; nor is he experiencing the warmth of a fire. "When I think very carefully about this", Descartes tells us, "I see so plainly that there are no reliable signs by which I can distinguish sleeping from waking that I am stupefied—and my stupor itself suggests that I am asleep!" (Biffle, 22). How than, Descartes ponders, can one be certain that one does in fact have hands, or that one does in fact feel heat from fire? How, Descartes poses, can one know if one is awake or asleep, and, consequently, how can we be certain of anything?
Fortunately, however, Descartes succeeds in determining one thing of which he can be certain. No matter how much he doubts, he can be certain of the fact that he is thinking, for the doubting is itself an affirmation of his thought. So he can be certain that he is at least a thing that thinks. Hence, the concept, "I think, therefore I am" is established in these ruminations.
The first point of contention is found at this point of Descartes’ exposition. How does Descartes know he is a thinking thing? There are three ways to analyze this question; let us first examine Descartes’ method. Descartes defines a thinking thing as a "thing that doubts, affirms, denies, understands a few things, is ignorant of many things, wills, refrains from willing, and also imagines and senses" (Cahn, 357). He reasons that he is doing these things. Therefore, he must be a thing that thinks.
The second method of analysis (or criticism of Descartes’ knowledge of himself as a thinking thing) runs as follows: Descartes problem is that he must establish himself as a thinking thing, in order for him to know that he exist. However, if there is, in fact, such a thing as a thinking thing, it exists independently of Descartes’ definition, in a surreal domain. Considering this, how could Descartes, who has not established himself as a thinking thing, come to know what a thinking thing is? One must be able to think, and so be a thinking thing, to come to know what thinking is. Thus, Descartes’ logic is circular: he must be a thinking thing to know what a thinking thing is, and thus he is a thinking thing.
For the third analysis, let us assume that Descartes’ definition of a thinking thing is correct. If Descartes somehow acquired the knowledge of what a thinking thing is, Descartes still may be incorrect in identifying his activities as the activities of a thinking thing. He may not know exactly what doubt, understanding, and will is, among other things, and thus would not know if he were, in fact, doubting, understanding, and willing. The only way, therefore, that Descartes could know that he is a thinking thing is if he knew it intuitively, but this is precisely the type of knowledge that Descartes has been laboring to question and suspects as false.
Let us put aside these considerations for the moment, and delve into the other components of Descartes’ meditations. Considering his existence as a thinking thing, Descartes reflections turn toward the fact that as a thinking thing he has ideas, and that these ideas must originate either from himself, or from some other source, as all ideas have causes. Furthermore, he is aware that his own ideas are varied in degree of greatness, the greatest idea he possesses, being the idea of God, a perfect, infinite and supreme being. Where Descartes reasons, could an idea of such a being come from but the being itself? Clearly, an effect cannot be greater than its cause, and so the greater the idea, the greater the object of the idea. Therefore, Descartes’ idea of God could not have been created by Descartes himself or by anything but God, as He is an infinite idea, and so an infinite object. The only way, therefore, that Descartes could have the conception of God that he does is if God imparted to Descartes the conception that he has of Him. Therefore, God must exist; proof of which is present in Descartes’ conception of God, for God could not have imparted to Descartes an idea of Himself if He did not exist. Likewise, if God did not exist, Descartes would not have his conception of God.
After establishing the existence of God, Descartes is able to understand why he previously held many beliefs certain, which were in fact false. First, Descartes acknowledges that God is not a deceiver. That it is, in fact, "impossible for God ever to deceive [him], for trickery or deception is always indicative of some imperfection", and God is perfect (Cahn, 364). So necessarily, He is not a deceiver. Secondly, that "since [God] does not wish to deceive [Descartes], He assuredly has not given [him] the sort of faculty with which [he] could ever make a mistake, when he uses it properly" (Cahn, 364). The errors in his judgment, Descartes tells us, result from the will reaching beyond the boundaries of the understanding. God, asserts Descartes, has endowed him with a perfect faculty of understanding, and thus all that he perceives clearly and distinctly must be true. However, he is likely to make errors in judgment when he fails to confine properly his judgment to the boundaries of clear and distinct ideas.
We have now come to our second point of contention in Descartes’ argument. Descartes establishes that his clear and distinct ideas must be true on the premises that God exists and that God would not deceive him. He also establishes that all ideas which are not clear and distinct are suspect as false, which is precisely where we find the second criticism of Descartes’ philosophy. If all ideas that are not clear and distinct may be false, Descartes did not prove God’s existence. Descartes’ judgment that ideas are greater as their objects are greater, and his judgment that all ideas have causes greater than themselves, are not clear and distinct ideas; they cannot be described mathematically. And so, these ideas may be false, which poses serious problems for Descartes’ proof of God. If one or both of these judgments are incorrect, God’s existence is not proven, for if one of these judgments is incorrect, it would either be possible for Descartes to have an idea greater than himself but created by himself, or the object of God would not necessarily be infinite just because the idea is infinite. Thus, God does not necessarily exist.
Let us again lay aside our doubts, and let us assume that God has been proven to exist and continue with our discussion of Descartes’ reflections. If we assume that Descartes’ argument so far has been sound, we can see how the notion of ‘clear and distinct ideas’ lifts are common experiences, such as whether or not our bodies exist, from doubt.
First though, it is necessary that we more fully understand how that which is clear and distinct differs from that which is not. A good understanding of this can be gained from Descartes’ analysis of the relationship between himself as thinking thing and the faculties which he is endowed with as a thinking thing, two of which are imagination and sensing. Descartes tells us that he can conceive of himself as a thinking thing without the faculties of imagination and sensing, but he cannot conceive of these faculties existing without the accompanying existence of a thinking thing. In this instance, therefore, the thinking thing is clear and distinct, and so it is what Descartes calls a substance: those things that exist independently of other things. The faculties of imagination and sensing, on the other hand, are what Descartes terms modes of a thinking thing.
Descartes also analyzes the relationship between himself as thinking thing and his body. He is aware that his body and self are "very closely joined" but is careful to distinguish himself as a thinking thing and not an extended thing (Cahn, 373). Conversely, Descartes is careful to distinguish his body as an extended thing and not as a thinking thing (Cahn, 373). Thus, Descartes’ body is distinct from Descartes, as it is not a thinking thing and is an extended thing. Therefore, Descartes writes, "it is certain that I am really distinct from my body, and can exist without it" (Cahn, 373). Besides, one knows that the mind is indivisible, while the body is divisible. This fact alone, argues Descartes, is sufficient proof for the distinction between mind and body. Furthermore, since the body can be conceived of apart from anything else, that the body exists must be true, for Descartes perceives it clearly and distinctly. If it were not true that the body exists, then God would be a deceiver, which is not the case, so the body must exist.
Just as Descartes is aware that the faculties of imagining and sensing cannot exist "apart from some substance in which they inhere," he is aware that the faculties of motion and those of shape changing must exist in some substance in which they inhere (Cahn, 373). Moreover, Descartes is certain that the substance in which these faculties exist is distinct from himself because he does not actively elicit or produce these ideas of motion and shape change but passively receives them. Moreover, he believes very strongly that these ideas, and similar things, originate from physical objects. Additionally, his perceptions of them are clear and distinct, at least those properties of them that he can describe mathematically. Therefore, concludes Descartes, the physical world must exist; God is not a deceiver, and he would be if Descartes’ clear and distinct perceptions were false. However, he warns, the senses may cause us to be deceived as to the exact nature of some physical things, since its knowledge is often far from clear and distinct. Nevertheless, we can be certain, Descartes assures us, that bodies such as trees exist, for we can describe some of their properties mathematically. We are, for instance, able to describe the height, width, and circumference of any given tree, and we can provide similar descriptions for many physical objects. Therefore, the physical world must exist because we have clear and distinct ideas of it.
It is important to remember, however, that Descartes’ proof of the material world rests on God’s existence and that clear and distinct ideas must be true. Since we have shown both of these premises to be problematic, so is their conclusion. Valid arguments must rest upon true premises, and Descartes’ premises are apparently not true. We cannot be sure, therefore, that the material world exists.
Descartes attempts to prove the existence of the material world and concepts, such as, the self and God, through reason. But this may not be possible. Considering Descartes’ attempt, it seems likely that any such proof would consist of circular reasoning and, assumed premises that may be false. And so it seems that Descartes may have inadvertently succeeded in finding one certainty. Namely, that concepts cannot be used to prove concepts, for they have no standard with which they can be checked against but themselves. It is this lack of an external check that makes it very difficult to construct a proof wrought from pure reason that is neither circular nor falsely assuming. In science, checks our found in phenomenon. If a theory is logically sound but does not work in the physical world, it is ruled out. Maybe we will find a similar check for ideas, or maybe we will devise a way around this problem of checking ideas. Either way, the problem is present, and it seems that ideas are not a likely place to find truth.
Back to Index
"The "Co-mingling" of Nature and Love in the Poetry of Dafydd ap Gwilym." by Anne Eva Dewar
Dafydd ap Gwilym has been acclaimed as the greatest poet of the Welsh language. As Rachel Bromwhich commented, Dafydd’s life "coincided miraculously in both time and place with an unprecedented opportunity to mate the new with the old" (Brom 112). Perhaps "mate" is a more appropriate choice of words here than Rachel intended. As his poetry depicts, Dafydd tried to mate a great many things in his time; the man is immortalized as a ball of raging hormones. A self-proclaimed "Ovid’s man," Dafydd took pleasure in identifying himself with the authoritative source of courtly love, a fresh trend in Wales during his life (Summer 29). Love, specifically courtly love, was among the new themes Dafydd merged with the traditional themes like nature. Even the ancient topic of nature, under Dafydd’s molding, took on new forms. Dafydd personified elements of nature to be his trusted messengers in poems such as "The
Seagull." In the "Holly Grove," nature is subtly described as a fortress or protector of sorts. Variations of these elements of secret, protected, and secluded love mesh with images of nature throughout Dafydd’s poetry. However, nature seems to be much more than a confidant or mere factor in his search for love; Dafydd’s poems such as "Secret Love" suggest that nature is essential in this endeavor. Though Dafydd’s attempts at love are not limited to the natural realm, poems such as "Trouble in a Tavern" make it evident that only in the natural setting is Dafydd a successful lover.
Elements in the poetry of courtly love express the need for a love affair to remain secret. The object of a poet’s love in these poems is typically a married woman, or unattainable by some other means. Andreas Capellanus’s The Rules of Courtly Love captures this element of forbidden love by saying, "marriage (was) no real excuse for not loving" (Cap 115-116). As Patrick Ford wisely pointed out, the need to maintain secrecy in a forbidden affair is not a new idea to modern readers. These elements of courtly love do not escape Dafydd’s poetry. His poem "Secret Love," among others, emphasizes the level of secrecy necessary in maintaining a love affair. Dafydd considers himself a learned lover, who found that "The best form of the words that work / Is to speak love in secrecy" (Sec 1-2). However, inherent in the desire for secret love, as evident in the following lines of Dafydd’s poem, is a remorse or "grief" (Sec 5). He and his "lass" are restricted to "Sharing few words / for fear of reproach" (Sec 8, 14). They dread the prospect of someone finding them and "casting slanderous words," upon their "faultless reputation" (Sec 17,18). Thus, it seems the complications of secret love are derived from the initial thrill; the love is charming and heightened because no one else but the lovers know about it, but the fear of others discovering and the need for secrecy precludes the lovers from enjoying their affair.
This fear of discovery is depicted in a comic manner in another of Dafydd’s poems, "Trouble in a Tavern." In this poem, Dafydd tells of a trip he had taken to the city where he stayed the evening in an inn. There he spied a "shapely lass" and (as if we couldn’t predict) became a "true hustler" (Tav 7,15); the woman agreed to meet with him after everyone had gone to sleep. Again, the theme of secrecy appears with the prospect of love. However, Dafydd’s ill-mindfulness of caution (or over-mindfulness of wine) left this secret nighttime affair incomplete. When all went to sleep, Dafydd "tried, proceeding cautiously, / to reach the girl’s bed; but it was not to be" (Tav 23-24). Dafydd made quite a ruckus in his attempted jaunt. First, he stumbled a bit, making noise, and hitting his shin "Against the side of some stupid stool," he describes (Tav 31). "Trying to get up" he resumed, only to bang his head on the edge of a table "Where there was a loose basin / and a loud brass bowl" (Tav 39-40). To top it all off, "the dogs began to bark" (Tav 46). All of this commotion awoke some slumbering Englishmen (described in a terribly unflattering manner), the grips of whom Dafydd narrowly escaped by returning to his own bed. In this vivid description of a quest for love, everything stands in Dafydd’s way. Although the grief inherent in secret love is portrayed here in a comic manner, it is nevertheless a "sad journey" (Tav 21).
Nature plays an interesting role in Dafydd’s secret love-scheming. By preserving the secrecy of the love, nature rids the pain and fear. This is evident in the last stanza of "Secret Love," where Dafydd’s solemnity in love transforms to delight upon his return to nature. He strays from descriptive words such as "restricted," "evil," and "slanderous" that appear in the first stanza, and returns to "sweet" thoughts (Sec 13, 15, 17, 21). This stanza piles the sugary thoughts of love on top of the rich descriptions of nature: "sheltered together in the secluded wood, / co-mingling like sands of the sea / Hanging together at the edge of the wood" (Sec 26-28). Patrick Ford’s introduction to the poem in The Celtic Poets, explains that "the last eighteen lines of the original of the poem […] begin (with) the syllable Cyd- ‘together’" (Ford 280). The "co-mingling" here occurs at many different levels, not simply between the lovers. In the transition between passages, the author’s voice is subdued by the power of the imagery he lays before the reader. The separation between the author, or the lover, and the images, nature, is almost extinct by the end of the succession of images. Dafydd even writes, "Woodland and lover go together" (Sec 34). By mingling the descriptive phrases of nature and love, the reader receives a strong sense of an inextricable bond between the two. Thus, by the end of the poem, lover and love seem to merge with the natural setting. In nature, love can remain secret and wonderful. Lovers can sit "Gazing on secluded fields" together without the "fear of reproach" (Sec 32, 14). There is a "gentle coexistence" among all involved (Sec 39).
In contrast, there is not "co-mingling" between the lover, loved, and setting in "Trouble in a Tavern" (Sec 27). Love in the tavern is far from easy and flowing like in the natural realm of "Secret Love." In fact, Dafydd’s use of poetic devices makes sure just the opposite is true. The third stanza of "Trouble in a Tavern" in which Dafydd describes his fateful quest for love, contains a brilliant multi-layered conveyance of the theme of the difficulty of love in a social setting such as a tavern. First and foremost, this poem is told as if the poet is recounting a story. This delivery immediately separates the poet from the place of the poem, the tavern. His use of the poetic device sangiad or ‘poetic aside’ further does so. Dafydd writes, "I tried, proceeding cautiously, / To reach the girl’s bed; but it was not to be" (Tav 23-24); the poetic aside here follows the semi-colon. Through sangiad and proper punctuation of the device, the author jumps back and forth between the events of the story, and his thoughts on the matter. This not only separates the poet’s voice from the setting, but also "gives a kind of jerky movement to the narration reflecting the jerky move of Dafydd as he attempts, unsuccessfully, to carry out his scheme," as Patrick Ford carefully describes (Ford 300). Another example of this jerky motion can be found in the line: "I hit my shin – no smooth move," (Tav 29). Indeed, there is not smooth movement here for the character in the poem, or the reader of the poem. Love is found to be difficult in this social setting of the tavern in so many different ways.
The comparison of these two poems, "Secret Love," and "Trouble in a Tavern" serves to highlight the special relation between nature and love in Dafydd’s poetry. It is not only the theme of the poems, but also the motion of the poetry, that separates the lover from society and unites him with nature. Moreover, it is not just "Woodland and lover (that) go together" but also nature and love (Sec 34). The fact that the lover is only successful at love in the natural setting serves to illustrate that love cannot be removed from nature. Nature serves as more than a mere confidant as Dafydd entrusts it with his secrets of love; nature makes love possible for Dafydd. The English translations in the third stanza of Dafydd’s poem, "Secret Love" leave the object of Dafydd’s affection ambiguous. He goes to his sweet loves home, he says, "Devoted to leaves while they were green" (Sec 22). It’s left unclear whether his love is a woman or nature itself. Perhaps this is just another means through which Dafydd strengthens the bond between the two. Dafydd certainly did mate the new theme of courtly love with the old imagery of nature, and the outgrowth was most extraordinary.
Bromwich, Rachel. "Chapter V." DAFYDD AP GWILYM. Penguin Books, 1985. 112.
Ford, Patrick. Introduction. "Secret Love." The Celtic Poets. Trans. Patrick Ford, Belmont: Ford & Bailie, 1999. 280.
Gapellanus, Andreas. "The Rules of Courtly Love." The Art of Courtly Love. Trans. J. J. patty. New York: Columbia University Press, 1941. 115-116.
Gwilym, Dafydd ap. "Secret Love." The Celtic Poets. Trans. Patrick Ford, Belmont: Ford & Bailie, 1999. 280-282.
Gwilym, Dafydd ap. "Summer." The Celtic Poets. Trans. Patrick Ford, Belmont: Ford & Bailie, 1999. 268-270.
Gwilym, Dafydd ap. "Trouble in a Tavern." The Celtic Poets. Trans. Patrick Ford, Belmont: Ford & Bailie, 1999. 300-302.
By Dafydd ap Gwilym
Translated by Patrick Ford
Dysgais ddwyn cariad esgud,
Diwladaidd, lledradaidd, drud
11 Because of our trust, we had a long time
12 When we used to dally together.
21 I went to my sweet love’s home,
22 Devoted to leaves while they were green;
Trouble in a Tavern
By Dafydd ap Gwilym
Translated by Patrick Ford
Deuthum I ddina dethol,
A’m hardd wreangyn I’m hol
7 I noticed a shapely lass
8 In the place, my sweet inspiration!
47 Beside the stout partitions,
48 There were three English in a stinky pad,
53 ‘There’s a Welshman, a troublemaker,
54 Prowling about here;
57 The hosteler roused a crowd
58 And a sad tale it was.
Back to Index
"The Hidden Relationship Between Government & Media," by the Rhetorical Ronin
Rather than being a neutral conduit for the communication of information, the U.S. media plays an intricate role in shaping and controlling political opinions. Media is extremely powerful in the sense that without an adequate functioning media, it is virtually impossible for a sophisticated social structure like the U.S. Government to exist. Henceforth, all known sophisticated social structure, have always dependent upon the media’s ability to socialize. The U.S. government generally will exploit the media, often times manipulating the enormous power of the printed word. Ultimately empowering the U.S. government, strengthening it with the ability to determine and control the popular perception of reality. One way in which government achieves this objective, is by its ability to misuse the media’s ability to set the agenda. Contrary to popular belief, media is in fact an enormous hegemony. In fact, separate independent news organizations relatively do not exist.
Rather than creating an independent structured agenda of there own, generally lesser smaller news organizations adapt to a prepared agenda, previously constructed by a higher medium. Based upon this information alone, it is quite apparent that media functions in adherence to the characteristics of a hierarchy. This simply means that media is structured in a way that it operates functioning from top to bottom. This is also identical to the hierarchical nature of the human body, in that from the commands of the brain transferred through the central nervous system, the body responds accordingly. In order for the U.S. government to control and determine the public’s popular perception of reality, the government must shape and oversee the information that the media reports to the existing populous. This particular process of democracy is known and referred to by political scientists as cognitive socialization. However, many of us, who do not adhere to the cushioning of political correctness, refer to it as
the propaganda machine. Numerous political scientists consider cognitive socialization to be the most effective form of political socialization. According to theory, cognitive socialization is doctored up information, which is strategically fragmented in such a manipulative manner, that the probability of its rationalization is highly predictable. The manipulative properties of cognitive socialization are so diabolical and Machiavellian in nature, that I consider it to be the ultimate perversion of the democratic process. In all seriousness, numerous intellectuals, and gentleman held in good stature agree, that cognitive socialization is the product of an evil genius. "It is very interesting", Senator William Fulbright observed in Senate hearings on government and the media in 1966, "that so many of our prominent newspapers have become almost agents or adjuncts of the government; that they do not contest or even raise questions about government policy". This essay is devoted to
uncovering the intentions of the U.S. Government, regarding the media.
Recently, I had the pleasure of viewing a documentary, regarding Professor Noam Chomnskey on a book of his intitled Manufacturing Consent, democracy and the media. In this video, Mr. Chomskey comments on the unholy alliance between government and media. "Indoctrination is the essence of democracy" explains Mr. Chomskey in an interview with him, which was featured in the video.
When it is an impossibility to control the people by force, it is absolutely necessary that you are able to control what they think. "Putting it in plain terms, the general public must be reduced to its traditional apathy and obedience, and driven from the arena of political debate and action, if democracy is to survive." Hence, media is used as a special additive applied to a free democratic society to preserve the interest of a power elite.
Since, my personal observation and analysis of the U.S. media, I have continuously run across the phrase "special interest." In fact, from what I understand of media, protecting the special interest of a power elite seems to me to be media primary directive. Moreover, since the media in essence are a corporation which are privately owned and controlled by a privileged power elite, highly respected intellectuals like Noam Chomskey are extremely critical of much of the information reported to the American public, by the media. This is especially true, in regards to U.S. foreign affairs. In order to protect the interest of the cooperate elite, media is generally discouraged from ever reporting the atrocities caused by the U.S. military on the people and there land in foreign countries plagued by war. "The military is the single biggest polluter of the environment, contaminating the air, soil, and ground water with plutonium, tritium, lead, fuel, solvents, lubricants, and other toxic waste, while creating over 90 percent of our radioactive waste and amassing a stockpile of tens of thousands of tons of lethal chemical and biological agents".
In addition, under the guise and false pretense of furthering the cause of democracy, media is used by the powers that be to paint the face and character of the enemy. Saddam Hussein, was depicted by the U.S. media as this dark gruesome tyrant, who was so much the slave to power, that he became a mad man killing, torturing, and enslaving his own subjects. Furthermore, this ideal of Saddam Hussein escalated to the point of becoming a holy war. In fact, the American public had gotten the impression from the media, that God himself, or herself, was in fact in favor of the U.S. invasion of Kuwait. It was almost reminiscent of the crusades. One other example of media’s ability to paint the face of the enemy is the present day U.S. involvement in Kosavow Albania. The U.S. media on numerous occasions can be remembered comparing Molosavich with Hitler. I for one find this comparison of Malosovich and Hitler to be a fascinating display of propaganda at its finest. In fact, Hitler’s name is highly marketable, in that propaganda is designed for the sole purpose of manufacturing consent. Hitler is considered by many Americans to be a psychotic genocidal mad man hell bent, on the extermination of the Jews. From what we all know of Hitler, one would be correct in rationalizing that the U.S. involvement in Kosavow is in fact legitimate. Therefore, propaganda is ultimately used by a democratic society to create an illusion of good intentions; all of this is done, for the sole purpose of manufacturing consent.
In an attempt to conceal certain high-risk motives, the U.S. government exploits media manipulating its ability to "select the topic." Often times the U.S. government will misuse this ability in an effort to deter the public, force feeding them a particular topic, ultimately diverting their attention from more pressing issues. Case in point, the Simpson trial. Many I believe would agree with me, when I say that the media’s coverage of the Simpson trial was exhaustive as well as absurd. Nevertheless, the Simpson trial was front-page news, in fact at that time, media seemed to have become obsessed with the whole Simpson ordeal. I find it to be quite strange that at that time, the Simpson trial was the only news worth talking about. However, although I found it to be intriguing, it was hardly news worthy. Moreover, it was highly tacky, as well as down right Paparazzi, in fact only thing missing from this Roman circus was the clowns. Countless domesticated disputes have ended with death as the result. Why was this one so relevant? Was it relevant because Mr. Simpson is a former Heismann trophy winner, as well as NFL hall of famer, etc? Is it an elaborate attempt by the U.S. government to divert our attention away from more crucial concerns, like health care and social security reform? "Millions of Americans live in areas where medical treatment is unavailable except at high fees, and public hospitals are closing down for lack of funds." However, media seems to ignore significant issues of this type, why? Issues, such as health care reform might interfere with the interest of the corporate elite. "In short, the major media are corporations "selling" privileged audiences to other business. Media concentration is high, and increasing. Furthermore, those who occupy managerial positions in the media belong to the same privileged elites, and might be expected to share the perceptions, aspirations and attitudes of there associates, reflecting their own class interest as well."
In summarizing, I would like to express numerous concerns I have in regards to media’s enormous power, and extradoinary influence. As I summarize the remainder of this essay, it is my sincere wish to convey to my audience certain scientific theories, which furnish certain agreed upon truths that attest to postulations made by myself, Mr. Noam Chomskey, and Mr. Michael Parenti. Noam Chomskey and Michael Parenti are highly reputable, respected, and revered men of high stature in the radiant and infinite world of academia. Nevertheless, it still must remain clear in our minds; though these two intellectuals provide convincing arguments, they are still nothing more than postulations. That is why it is my intention to include particular scientific theories, which do in fact reinforce the feasibility of the postulations voiced in this essay. There exists one theory, which provide to me, the necessary proofs needed to convey to my audience, a well-rationalized argument that should be considered seriously. The one theory, in which I include into the anatomy of this essay, is the theory of Memetics. Let us consider Memetics, asking ourselves how does this theory reinforce the postulations mentioned in this essay. The theory of Memetics is fascinating, fresh, extraordinary, and very insightful. First of all, what is the theory of Memetics, and how does it elucidate on the enormous influential power of media? "The meme, is the basic building block of culture in the same way the gene is the basic building block of life. In that they make up countries, languages, religions, but on a small-scale memes are the building blocks of your mind, the programming of your mental computer." Functioning with the same objective as the gene, the sole purpose of the meme like any other organism, is survival. In the exact manner in which the gene wishes to propagate, the meme desires to be retransmitted from one host to the next. In other words, the meme simplified, and is referred to by many evolutionary scientists, as the "thought propagating idea." What is even more peculiar about the meme is not the fact that it reproduces itself, but that it has a peculiar viral nature. To put it simply, memes are highly contagious. Richard Brodie elucidates further in his book titled Virus of the Mind, he states that "mind viruses are just as contagious as the common cold, also he states that mind virus are spread by something as simple as communicating. Mind viruses are the price of one of the freedoms most dear to us the freedom of speech. Once created, a virus of the mind gains a life independent of its creator and evolves quickly to infect as many people as possible." Looking back upon the media, armed with the knowledge of Memetics, one is left with no other option but to conclude that media is in fact the propaganda machine. Propaganda is defined Webster’s dictionary as 1. "Information, ideals, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person group or movement, institution, nation etc. 2. The deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc. 3. The particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement." Just as Hitler was able to influence the German masses with the use of propaganda, the U.S. government is no different in its use of propaganda, ultimately driven through the technological resources of media. One of the most grotesque displays of U.S. propaganda was during the "Red Scare," which is an intricate part of U.S. history. It is so well known that in fact, I feel as if it need not be elaborated further. Previously, in this essay I quote Noam Chomskey, which simply states the following. Indoctrination is the essence of democracy. Therefore it is not democracy at all, in fact media in and of it self is the ultimate enemy of the democratic process.
In closing this essay, I would like to propose a solution to the negative effect on the democratic process, by the media. This is my proposal, when our children enter into high school, courses should be designed dedicated to explaining the nature of media, and they should be required. Knowing is half the battle, and knowledge is power. Therefore, I conclude that if we arm the American public with the knowledge of media, as a consequence media’s influence will decrease rapidly. Thus, ends this essay.
Back to Index
"An Examination of the Debate Between Creationism and Evolutionism Based on the Argument Presented By Ernst Mayr," by Brian Park
Challenging the accepted order of society always brings a wave of criticism and contempt. In Ernst Mayr's One Long Argument, he aggressively brings to the forefront of debate the notion that his predecessors had heatedly argued for years, that man is not a divinely created creature, but rather just another animal in a state of constant change. Examining the path Charles Darwin, had followed in his attempt to better understand the evolutionary path of man, noted biologist Ernst Mayr explains Darwinian theory in respects to not only evolution but also in respect to the belief that man is somehow a creature made of a higher divinity than all else. And it is this challenge of man's role as something divine that caught me as being quite profound.
It has been the belief of man since the dawn of civilization that somehow he was created above all other creatures, and that life for him, existed outside of the natural world. The interesting perspective Mayr brings to the topic of man and God is that, man may not be so divine as to be able to stand outside the natural order of evolution. Yet despite anthropological evidence, such as fossils, the public has a difficulty in accepting that man and animal had a common ancestor: that man had to evolve to his present state. But in contrast many are not be so surprised to believe that animals underwent and still undergo a constant change.
Further still Mayr makes the attempt at understanding the phenomena of why man cannot agree to having evolved from the same common ancestor as the wild animal the chimpanzee. It may seem that, according to Mayr, that man's own inability to come to terms with his own evolution, stems from a feeling of not wanting to be reduced to just another animal in the chain of life. For hundreds of years, as Mayr examines, religion after religion has always placed man on some sort of pedestal, superior to all other species. And when Darwin confronted the world with possibly another truth, he shattered man's perception of himself. Even today, a hundred years after Darwin first challenged the accepted order of man as a divine being, Mayr still raises controversy in the debate over man as being just another animal undergoing a constant evolutionary change like all other animals. Taking on this argument in chapters three and five in One Long Argument, Mayr forces skeptics to at least reexamine the principles that give man the notion that his species is above any natural order.
Though the controversy over the evolutionary theory has been subject to an extensive debate since the topic first came under study, Mayr contests that scientifically, the debate between evolutionary and creationary theories have hinged, largely in part, to the scientific world's need for factual proof of the existence of an all powerful being that simply "created the world." Also on a morality question Mayr questions that : How could a wise and good Creator permit the unspeakable cruelty suffering of slavery? How could he instigate earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that killed thousands or tens of thousands of innocent people? (p.13)
It is this fundamental ethical question that Mayr, and many other biologists find discrediting to the notion of a perfect Creator. Because if this perfect Creator is responsible for the creation of what is perceived as a "perfect creation," by staunch supporters of Creationism, why would this Creator kill many innocent people and let such brutal practicing's as slavery exist?
In dealing with scientific and philosophical principles that can turn the accepted way of thought upside down, it is a relief to many minds, of whom believe science is without a conscience, to see scientists going further into study than just the facts but also in why humanity would want to believe a falsehood. Because biologists demands proof, facts, and data, to read about the scientific study of evolution from both a factual and philosophical point of views delivers a sense of security in that the future is not entirely in the numbers of computer printouts and charts. Mayr's take on not only science and religion but on man's perception of himself in these areas, lends to the credibility of science pursuing truth for the betterment of mankind.
With such a varied coverage of science from several different takes, Ernst Mayr's One Long Argument brings the ego of man to a humble perspective. Appreciating this challenging stance on man and evolution in the face of staunch opposition, I was able to extrapolate the biologists' view on the fossil record pertaining to man and evolution. In his understated approach at unraveling the mysteries of Evolution and Charles Darwin's role in the development in this new field, Mayr goes further than transcribing facts to more of a subtle incorporation of why man has a difficulty in accepting such facts. And it seems evident that according to Mayr, after examining not only Darwin's path to the acceptance of evolution but also the path most others take, that man has trouble humbling himself to nature.
Back to Index
Aaron Paul Bell