1. It having been shown in the foregoing discourse:
Firstly. That Adam had not, either by natural right of fatherhood or by positive donation from God, any such authority over his children, nor dominion over the world, as is pretended.
I chose Locke’s section of political power because I was struggling to begin Locke’s passage as a whole. It was a reading that I saw myself reading and rereading over and over again without getting the gist of what he was trying to say. I wanted to skip over it, but I would tell myself that if I could not understand the beginning, I could not understand the rest of the reading. I reached out to my classmates and Professor Quillen’s notes. After hearing the different understandings and reading the notes, I was able to get some of the points that Locke was trying to convey to the readers. I think Locke is saying that Adam did not get the power from God and that there is no divine right. He says this to convey the notion that there are different types of power relating back to the idea of power structures. The power structures that Locke mentions are the ones that masters have over slaves, father’s over their families, and king’s over kingdoms. Relating back to the lecture we had on liberalism, power is like no other power, there are certain authorities “ruling” so that the power available to each individual is not being misused.
“I see first of all one thing that seems to me to be acknowledged both by good and evil persons: that we must reason in everything because man is not simply an animal but an animal who reasons. There are consequently in the question at hand means for discovering the truth. Whoever refuses to look for the truth renounced human status and must be treated by the rest of his species like a ferocious beast; once the truth is discovered, whoever refuses to conform to it is either mad or bad in a moral sense… “
I chose this passage
of Diderot’s “Natural Law” because it poses strong assertions on reason and the
complexity of man. I found this reading conflicting because Diderot quotes that
there are means for discovering the truth and that those who do not search for
it renounce their status as humans. However, this passage greatly undermines the
differences in cultures and understanding of reason. Diderot’s definition of
reason and understanding may differ greatly from those of different beliefs and
identities. This notion of reason Diderot discusses may only apply to western ideologies
and ignores the varied understanding of the eastern regions. Nevertheless, his acknowledgement
of the fact that in order to discover the truth, one must reason resonates for
many people. Diderot’s claim that one who does not seek the truth is no different
than an animal highlights his principles and belief that we must reason in
order to understand. We are given the ability to think, rationalize, and
understand, and ignoring these abilities lessens our position as human. To seek
truth is to seek humanity. What sets us apart from the animal species if not
our higher brain function.
In our discussion, we
spoke about how reason differentiates us from animals and lets us distinguish
truth from falsehood. In that sense, Diderot corroborates this statement and
explains why it is that we often find ourselves seeking things beyond our
common existence. Just like animals, we could run through the natural cycle of
life, from birth to death, yet we choose to see the grander picture.
“… that in every individual the general will is a pure act of understanding that reasons in the silence of the passions about what man can demand of his fellow man and about what his fellow man has the right to demand of him; (3) that this attention to the general will of the species and to shared wants is the rule of conduct to one individual relative to another in the same society, of an individual toward a society in which he is a member, and of the society of which he is a member toward other societies”
I chose Diderot’s “Natural Law” because of the extensive repetition of his words which made the passage difficult to comprehend at first glance. I also chose it because I felt like it related to Locke’s central theme that all humans have the right to have a natural freedom over themselves. By relating this passage to Locke, I started to understand the passage more and realized that both authors are technically implying the same thing, that each human has the right to the freedoms of their own body and how they share that with society. I think that Diderot is trying to further expand on Locke’s definition of “Natural Law,” in which everyone has the right to be their own person, make their own decisions, have equal rights, and help out their fellow man. I feel like this relates back to the topic of identity which we touched on in class. Diderot touches on the topic by addressing how we can use our identity to make the world a better place for ourselves and others, and how each individual has a place in society to make it work as a team. By embodying an identity which makes one’s presence a helpful and respectful one, Diderot’s expectations of “Natural Law” is obtained.
Quote: “Our past is bleak. Our future dim. But I am not reasonable. A reasonable man adjusts to his environment. An unreasonable man does not. All progress, therefore, depends on the unreasonable man. I prefer not to adjust to my environment. I refuse the prison of “I” and choose the open spaces of “we.”
I chose Morrison’s passage on refusing to accept the current societal climate because I was intrigued by her use of “unreasonable”, usually a word with a negative connotation, to represent her admirable refusal to be complacent. When I first read this passage, I was confused as to whether Morrison was contradicting herself, by asserting that, “the past is bleak” and “our future dim”, followed by the minimizing statement that she is “not reasonable.” I was also unsure of what she meant by the last sentence; whether she was advocating for unity amongst mankind, or discouraging people from becoming too entrapped in their own beliefs. Upon further reading, I realized that by “unreasonable”, Morrison means someone who is always questioning the justice of a situation, instead of accepting the current state as the reality. I found her use of “unreason” as opposed to “reason” interesting, as other texts we’ve read, particularly Kant’s work, define reason as one’s ability to question, and value reason above all else as what differentiates mankind from other animals. I believe that Morrison chose to reiterate acting “unreasonably” in this passage to emphasize the discomfort and active resistance required to oppose the realities accepted by society as a whole. Morrison’s passage suggests a solution for the question of how to dismantle oppressive and discriminatory beliefs by advocating for active protest and resistance as a means for positive change. The last sentence, encouraging the reader to choose the “open spaces of we” implies that one should advocate for the good of humanity as a whole, rather than in their own interest, which echoes the thoughtfully inclusive themes of John Locke’s “common good”.
Though I have said above (2) “That all men by nature are equal,” I cannot be supposed to understand all sorts of “equality.” Age or virtue may give men a just precedency. Excellency of parts and merit may place others above a common level. Birth may subject some, and alliance or benefits others, to pay an observance to those to whom Nature, gratitude, or other respects, may have made it due (paragraph 54)
I chose this passage because it confused me why Locke mentions how there are inequalities in the world after arguing that everyone is equal throughout the document. After reading this, I went back to the notes from Thursday’s lecture and focused on this as a response to Filmer’s take on how the monarchy has a divine right. Locke is trying to convince his audience that the monarchy does not have a divine right and that everyone is equal; however, he needs his audience to resonate with what he is saying. They are more likely to listen to what he is saying if he admits there are inequalities because we see them everyday.
I believe Locke is trying to appeal to more people in this passage by acknowledging that everyone is different. If he went this whole document without saying this, many people would dismiss the “equality” he mentions because we do not see it in everyday life. He included this to show how there is not equality in the world, but there should be in a state of nature. One question this passage addresses is, “Why are societies terrible at creating equality?” There is inequality everywhere in this world, and Locke mentions some reasons including birth and age. However, he does not mention the many more reasons to why there are inequalities.
Question: What is the value of relational authenticity?
Agree on: Often we need to further investigate the stories of the people we meet, read about, etc. The details of their story reach past the boxes we may have put them into. Without seeing all of these details and being willing to investigate them, in spite of our discomfort, we can’t connect with them fully. Human connectivity is what it’s going to take to change things.
Disagree on: embracing overarching demographic identities
Question: Why must there be one specific aspect that acts
as the definitive identity?
Agreement: There is much more than one single aspect that defines someone and/or somewhere. The single story leads to construed misconceptions that forces individuals to fit into a mold outlined by the stereotype.
Disagreement: The idea that power makes the story
Question: How can someone defined by multiple identities overcome expectations and stereotypes set by society?
Agree: People of multiple ethnicities and cultures often find themselves caught in the middle of an ongoing inward and outward battle. Growing up ingrained in multiple cultures creates a complex dynamic of uncertainty and doubt. Questions of identity and expectation plague your consciousness and often lead to a pervading sense of alienation. People also face society’s question of who they are and who they must be. However, we must understand that we as people are not dictated by society’s definition of our identity, rather, we are intricate products of a diverse array of cultures, traditions, and customs. There is not a single definition of who you are, and we continually find ourselves attempting to fit into a set of descriptions created by those whose knowledge of different identities is limited to specific cultural norms. As a society, we are working towards creating a more inclusive and expansive understanding of the world. However, we fall short when we, for example, invite people of color to speak in conferences, as a symbolic effort to include minority groups in discussions of race and sexuality. The prevalence of tokenization in these efforts greatly diminishes the work of those people who take initiative to create programs that are deeply rooted in inclusion.
Disagree: Each of the three authors pose vastly different solutions to this issue. Adichie references her engrossment in literature and reading, using education to reach those who may have not experienced authors of other ethnicities, all the while allowing people to express their identity in the way most personal to them. Maalouf suggests that people with multiple identities must self-advocate, educate, and “build bridges” between different cultures. He uses his narrative as an immigrant to establish a connection with the reader, easing into the concept that we are not defined by one thing, rather, many facets of our identity. In contrast, Spivak proposes that non-marginalized groups need to use their privilege to gain a deeper insight and understanding of the struggle faced by those in minority groups, and in doing so, can begin to evaluate and rectify the systemic injustices endemic throughout the Western world.
Question: Does individual identity hinder of support our efforts to become connected as a society?
Agree: A strong society functions when individuals are not excluded or grouped based on demographic characteristics. Instead, we must interact with individuals and see the beauty in their experiences, however different they may be from our own. Harmony arises when one on one encounters allow individuals to bond on their familiar motivations. The common ground we all share will challenge the divisive group attitudes that separate us.
Disagree: The level to which marginalized groups should share in their identity
Question: What are the implications of forcing someone to represent themselves with a single characteristic?
Narrowing one’s identity to a singular origin, characteristic, etc. can have divisive and devastating effects, as stereotypes dehumanize other groups and foster an “us versus them” mentality. People belonging to a certain group, especially a marginalized or underrepresented population, are more likely to suffer as a result of these generalizations, so it is important to consider the personal experiences of individuals, rather than the group as a whole.
The solution to the issue of generalization and whether the unique perspective provided by underrepresented populations or those with mixed backgrounds grants them the ability to break down barriers and build connections between communities.
Question- What is a humane society?
Agree on- Knowing everyone’s differences and accepting those differences will help us connect and show more compassion towards each other.
Disagree on- There is hope that a humane society can exist in this world.