Today is only the third day of our class at Cornell and it has already been feeling like it has been forever since we arrived here for the program. It is definitely apparent that all of us are immediately adjusting to our college environment, which includes the surprisingly chilling weather, campus walks, and especially the food. The adaptation to this environment is a positive step towards us being able to develop good routines such as meeting after class to begin working on our readings and work on our blogs.
When we finished our assignment early last night, our friend Jordan and I went against Alex and Andrew Gonzalez in a basketball game up to twenty-one points at a nearby sports facility. The game was intense, and the score ended up going to Alex and Andrew G. who narrowly defeated us 22-20. Being able to play sports with each other is a way for us to meet new people. We had the chance to play a little kid from the sports camp, which was sort of cool to interact with people in a friendly competition. After the game, we walked out into the cool night on the Cornell Campus laughing and joking as if I was back home, completely relaxed after a long day’s worth of lectures and work.
Coming back to our lecture today, we moved on from bible studies of the Old and New Testament to philosophers who have had a great impact on Christianity and political thought. These two philosophers were St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, each with different interpretations of Christ’s words. The need for government is paramount in both but there are definitely different attitudes toward humanity by the two. In my personal opinion, I was more attached Kramnick’s lecture on Aquinas and how his view of humanity, compared to the more pessimistic view by Augustine viewing men as completely mired in sin, is that we all have the capacity for good and that we took as the general populace can play a role in government. All my life I believe that all people are good despite if they are slightly corrupted and that we should be proactive in doing “supernatural good” for others.
We also received our essays that we wrote two days earlier and looked over the corrections. My teacher assistant Simon G. advised me to sort of add a few more questions that put my points into greater perspective with the definition of “freedom.” As this is a class requiring analysis, the benefit in answering more questions in our essay that revolve around philosophical concepts like freedom is that is shows greater understanding. Instead of us just knowing what the philosopher said, we are able to take those concepts, show whether we disagree or not, and expand upon it with our own interpretation. I was satisfied with how we reviewed our last night reading with a chart in which we compared the different views the Old Testament, New Testament, Augustine, and Aquinas would all have on governmental powers and society. Like a crime scene, we connected all the pieces of information into an understandable format.
Tonight’s assignment is one of the longest, which is Plato’s “The Republic.” Professor Kramnick advised us to all read it in one day, but luckily we have an advantage with our early preparation. Even so not to get overconfident, we plan to meet up again for more review and in depth analysis for tomorrow’s lecture.