What is Beauty? Mrs. Navejar English 12 The Philosophers’ Club Unit



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What is Beauty?

  • Mrs. Navejar

English 12 The Philosophers’ Club Unit

  • Objective
    • Students will
      • Learn the Socratic Method
      • increase reasoning and logical thinking skills
      • Develop clear and thoughtful answers to philosophical questions
      • Practice the art of listening and engaging in meaningful conversation
      • Discover, articulate and refine their unique points of view
      • Practice new reading strategies
        • Clarifying
        • Summarizing

Reading/ Viewing Material

  • The Philosophers’ Club brochure
  • Mortimer J. Adler’s essay, The Idea of Beauty
  • Six great ideas: truth, beauty, goodness, liberty, equality, justice video

Reading Strategies

  • Reading Strategy
  • Clarifying
  • Definition
  • Make the meaning of text clear to the reader
  • Application
  • Ask questions, reread, restate and visualize to make text more comprehensible.
  • Occurs
  • During Reading
  • Reading Strategy
  • Summarizing
  • Definition
  • Application
  • Have students create similes about summarizing to understand what it looks like, such as "Summaries are like condensed milk."
  • Have students complete graphic organizers or write summaries focusing on the beginning, middle, or end of text.
  • Occurs
  • During Reading, After Reading

What is the Philosophers’ Club?

  • Meet and talk about your thoughts and concepts of the world
  • Follow a method of questioning called the “Socratic Method”
  • Sloppy or lazy thinking is taboo
  • Ponder questions in a meaningful way
    • Who am I?
    • What am I capable of?
    • Who can I become?

Guidelines

  • No sage on the stage
  • Students are to become expert questioners
  • Propose questions and encourage others to support and expand position

The Socratic Method

  • In Plato's early dialogues, the elenchos is the technique Socrates uses to investigate, for example, the nature or definition of ethical concepts such as justice or virtue. According to one general characterization (Vlastos, 1983), it has the following steps:
  • Socrates' interlocutor asserts a thesis, for example 'Courage is endurance of the soul', which Socrates considers false and targets for refutation.
  • Socrates secures his interlocutor's agreement to further premises, for example 'Courage is a fine thing' and 'Ignorant endurance is not a fine thing'.
        • --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socratic_method

Socratic Method

  • Socrates then argues, and the interlocutor agrees, that these further premises imply the contrary of the original thesis, in this case it leads to: 'courage is not endurance of the soul'.
  • Socrates then claims that he has shown that his interlocutor's thesis is false and that its contrary is true.
  • One elenctic examination can lead to a new, more refined, examination of the concept being considered, in this case it invites an examination of the claim: 'Courage is wise endurance of the soul'. Most Socratic inquiries consist of a series of elenchai (a cross-examination) and typically end in aporia.

The Socratic Method

  • The teacher and student must agree on the topic of instruction.
  • The student must agree to attempt to answer questions from the teacher.
  • The teacher and student must be willing to accept any correctly-reasoned answer. That is, the reasoning process must be considered more important than pre-conceived facts or beliefs.
          • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socratic_method

Socratic method

  • The teacher's questions must expose errors in the students' reasoning or beliefs. That is, the teacher must reason more quickly and correctly than the student, and discover errors in the students' reasoning, and then formulate a question that the students cannot answer except by a correct reasoning process. To perform this service, the teacher must be very quick-thinking about the classic errors in reasoning.
  • If the teacher makes an error of logic or fact, it is acceptable for a student to correct the teacher.
  • Since a discussion is not a dialogue, it is not a proper medium for the Socratic method. However, it is helpful -- if second best -- if the teacher is able to lead a group of students in a discussion. This is not always possible in situations that require the teacher to evaluate students, but it is preferable pedagogically, because it encourages the students to reason rather than appeal to authority.

Order of Lesson

  • Read The Philosophers’ Club Brochure
  • Review
    • Objectives
    • Reading strategies
    • Socratic Method (Teacher/Student)
  • Watch the “Truth” & “Beauty” Video discussion
    • Look for Socratic Method in action
    • Listen and take notes on discussion
    • Follow logic of participants and write a graphic organizer for one participants train of thought
  • Review over Adler handout
    • In class practice
      • Clarifying
      • Summarizing

Adler’s The Idea of Beauty?

  • We call the object “beautiful” because it has certain properties that make it admirable
  • Admiration may be mediated by thought and dependent upon knowledge
  • Aquinas said that the beautiful object is one that has unity, proportion, and clarity

Adler’s The Idea of Beauty?

          • Expert vs. Laymen
          • Which painting do you believe an expert would determine to be an example of beauty?
          • Why? Based on what criteria?
          • What if a non expert believed that the painting on the bottom was more beautiful than the one on top?
          • Who or what determines if his/her preference is wrong or right?
          • “Who says what is admirable?”
          • Are there varying degrees of expertise in determining intrinsic excellence of an object?
          • If two experts argue over which object is more beautiful, who or what determines which expert is correct?

Connecting to our Renaissance Unit

  • Renaissance humanism did not, however, spring fully grown from Classical philosophy. It emerged over a period of over a century as a fusion of Christian and Classical thought.
  • Typical of the early Renaissance Humanists was Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472), who was at the same time an artist, philosopher, architect, and mathematician. His attitude to the wisdom of the ancients, and to its combination with Christianity, was primarily pragmatic and rationalistic - his Humanistic religion rejected most of the mystical overtones of contemporary Christianity.

Connecting to our Renaissance Unit

  • Where Alberti is the direct forerunner of later Renaissance Humanists is in his ideas on beauty, drawn from Plato's Classical theories on love, beauty, and the nature of the universe. Alberti insisted that beauty has objective reality, and is not dependent on mere subjective opinion.
  • Where he differed most strongly from the later Humanists ('Neoplatonists' as they came to be known) was in his refusal to indulge in abstract speculation on his ideas. "Everything is attributed to reason, to method, to imitation, to measurement; nothing to the creative faculty." 2
  • Review The Golden Section and The Divine Proportion

Assignment

  • Read the entire Adler handout
  • Write summaries and clarifying notes in the margin
  • Underline and look up words that you do not understand
  • Pick up a piece of chart paper and create a chart mapping out Adler’s ideas on beauty
  • Write out 10 challenging questions that you have on beauty.

Truth

  • Define
  • Support with examples
  • Jury trial
    • What determines whether a person is guilty or not guilty?
    • Evidence
  • What determines what is true or false?
    • Evidence
  • The sun revolves around the earth. True or false?
    • The fact that people believed this to be true did not change the fact that the earth revolves around the sun.
  • If we were to determine if we are living a good life, how are we to determine the truth of our belief?
    • evidence

Can there be false knowledge?

  • Consider Prejudice
  • Strive to have a rational mind
    • Suspend judgment
    • Assess evidence
  • Consider the sun revolving around the earth false belief
    • Some of our beliefs or prejudice could be incorrect
  • Pursuit of truth
    • Requires that we revisit and revise our previously held belief on what we believe to be true

Experiencing Beauty

  • That which we behold and derive pleasure from is a form of beauty
  • Objective/Subject experience of beauty
    • Objective- Consider The Divine Proportion
    • Subjective- that which is pleasing to the viewer
  • In the sphere of beauty, should we make the distinction between the expert and non expert opinion of what is beauty?
  • Different degrees and object of beauty

Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder?

  • Is “Beauty in the eye of the beholder”
    • Adler believes that it is in the apprehension of the beholder
    • The hierarchy of admirable beauty
      • More cultivated taste- more appreciation
      • Less cultivated taste- less appreciation
      • Example: I “enjoy” watching college football
      • I am a non expert. An expert can better appreciate the game because of their knowledge base

Group Discussion 8:35-9:52

  • Position chairs into a circle
  • Take out your ten questions or statements on Beauty
  • Each person will ask one question from their list
  • Raise hand to respond
  • Questioner will call on respondent
  • The next person in the circle (rotate to the left) will ask their question


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