Aristotle and The Final Assignment

Plato and Aristotle

Plato and Aristotle

Here is a digital version of the material we studied together in class. The language might not be exactly the same as the print-out I gave you but the ideas and the structure are identical

From this material we discussed the question of friendship (i.e., do friends need justice?; how can we define friendship?; what are the three types of friendship?; is it correct to say that goodness is permanent while usefulness and pleasantness are relative?;)

Final Assignment Guidelines

The following information is designed to help students who are aiming for an A+ in the final exam. In order to achieve this, take note of the following requirements:

– The student has chosen one of the four topics and understood the main ideas conveyed in the work

– The student also understands the secondary ideas and examples that support the main ideas

– The student is able to express these main and secondary ideas in spoken English

– The student demonstrates a knowledge of some of the material’s vocabulary and can incorporate it into their speech

– The student is able to see the material as part of a bigger picture and not just in isolation (i..e, they are able to compare or contrast it to some of the other materials we have studied)

– The student not only understands the material but has her own opinion (either positive or negative) on the ideas

– The student is able to raise questions about the material and engage the listener in a discussion

– The student does not wait for questions or prompts but has a clear purpose and understanding of what she wants to express


Wow! That seems really difficult, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not really. If you spend a little time on the material, go over your notes, perhaps do a little further research on the internet or in books, I’m sure you’ll be able to do very well.

Remember, you are allowed to use your materials as a reference if you want–but don’t rely on them or use them as a script.

Of course, if you have any problems or questions about any of the materials or the test, ask me and I will help you.

Good luck and I’ll see you on Tuesday.


Faith 76

1:15 Jo Jae Won                   1:20 Jo Yae Jin        1:25 Monica

1:30 Gang Seung Hyun     1:35 Ga Yae Won      1:40 Mun Da In

1:45 Seo Da Eul                     1:50 Im Ji Hyun       1:55 Kim Ji Min

2:00 Lee Chung Son           2:05 Hyo Jean Kim  2:10 Park Ji Eun

2:15 Lee Seung Hee            2:20 Kim Ji Hye


Faith 77

2:55 Lee Su Han               3:00 Shin Jeong Min    3:05 Kwon Ri Yang

3:10 Jeong Ji Woon        3:15 Kim Ha Eun            3:20 Lee Eun Seo

3:25  Ha Seung Hee         3:30 Park Su Min           3:35  Yu Do Jin

3:40 Na In Young            3:45 Park Soo Jin          3:50 Choi Yun Young

(please note that with so many students the times may change a little bit; however, you should all make sure you are there and ready when it’s your turn. If you have a problem with your time, try to change it with a friend or ask me. You should notify me of any changes that you make.)

Han Fei Tzu 韓非

Han Fei Tzu

Our next lesson asks us to look at some of the ideas of a very famous figure in ancient Chinese thought – Han Fei Tzu. His ideas on people and governance have, in more times, been compared to that of the Italian politician Machiavelli.

Our primary material can be found in the link below:

Please note – in class we will focus on ‘The Way of the Ruler’ (page 6) and ‘On Having Standards’ (page 8). However, it will very useful for you to read the introduction (pages 1-5) if you can. 

Click to access 13.%20Han%20Feizi.pdf


Ideas to Consider when reading:

The Way of the Ruler

(1) What do paragraphs one and two suggest a good ruler should do? Does this make sense to you? Do you think many rulers use this method in modern times?

(2) How do you understand the concept of ‘non-action’ that a ruler should follow?

(3) In paragraphs five and six, how does Han Fei Tzu describe the nature of people? Does he seem them in a positive or a negative light?

(4) What five ways can people take power from the ruler?

(5) What does Han Fei Tzu say about ‘punishments’ and ‘rewards’ at the end of the section? Do you agree with his ideas on punishment?


On Having Standards

(1) In paragraphs one and two, though the words are difficult and foreign, what is Han Fei Tzu saying about the relationship between the ruler and the state?

(2) In paragraph four, what are some of the examples he gives that can bring the downfall of a state or country?

(3) What does Han Fei Tzu say about law (fa)?

(4) Who does the law apply to in Han Fei Tzu’s theory?


Sir Salman Rushdie


Sir Salman Rushdie is an Indian British novelist who was won many of literature’s most famous awards. In 1981, his novel Midnight’s Children  won the Booker Prize; his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses gave him global fame but notoriety in the Islamic community; and in 2007 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to literature.

His opinions caused many people to be upset and a fatwa was issued against him. This meant he had to live in secret for nine years otherwise he might have been killed.

As we study his work, we should consider not just his ideas, but the importance or the notion of free speech. Should people be free to express any opinions or are there limits? Also, we are looking at the world through the eyes of man who was raised in a Muslim community. It’s important to remember that his view on the world will have been affected by the world in which he lived.

The following essay by Salman Rushdie is based on the following song by John Lennon. Perhaps you have heard it before – but have you considered the lyrics. Watch the video and try to understand what Lennon is talking about:

You can find Rusdhie’s primary material here: 

Example Discussion Questions


(1) Which of Rusdhie’s first questions, if any, is most important?

How did we get here? And, now that we are here, how shall we live?

(2)  Rushdie mentions various stories of creation – which one holds the most appeal from a literary perspective? How would you compare, for example, the story of Tangun with the story of Adam and Eve?

(3)  Some societies are polytheistic (Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Hindu Societies)? How do you think these differ from monotheisms? What would be the advantages or disadvantages of either one? Is it better to have one god or many gods?

(4) Are religions to be taken literally? Or can we interpret them as we choose? Islam relies on a literal interpretation of the Quran – is this better or worse than making your own judgments about the text?

(5) In the quote below, Rushdie draws a distinction between knowledge and religion. Do you think the two are inseparable?

As human knowledge has grown, it has also become plain that every religious story ever told about how we got here is quite simply wrong.  

(6) Do you believe the world is getting more or less religious? Rushdie seems to say that people are becoming more adherent to their beliefs?

(7) Rushdie blames over population on religion for its attitudes toward sexuality, and birth control. Do you feel he has a point?

(8) Are ‘ancient’ religions still useful for modern times? Rushdie says they are old-fashioned but haven’t we studied many old writers (such as Plato) and found some truth in them? How do you feel about new-religions of the time (pseudo-religions) psybi?

(9) Can we have morality without religion? How can we decide what is right and what is wrong if there are no books or guides to tell us? Would the world descend into chaos without religion?

(10) One of the biggest changes in the last few hundred years has been making governments and countries secular (France, Germany, America) — the government is separate from the church. Some middle-eastern countries do not do this however. The church is the government. Which do you think is better? Is society losing its morals by being secular?

(11)  How much freedom should people be allowed when expressing opinions? Is what Rushdie says (the world would be better without religion) acceptable as a public opinion?




With elections coming up in Korea on Wednesday, it seems appropriate for us to look at a political allegory made famous by the Canadian politician Tommy Douglas. He started using the story of ‘Mouseland’ as early as the 1940s but it still seems rather relevant today.

You can watch a short animation of the speech here:

And you can find a written copy of the speech here:

Click to access tommy_douglas_speech.pdf

Questions to consider:

Preliminary Question – Tommy Douglas is thought of as the father of Canada’s universal health care system. This is a system in which every man, woman, and child is provided with free health care. Similar systems exist in other countries around the world. How do you feel about the notion that people should have the right to receive free health care provided by their government?

Questions on the material:

Of course the whole speech is an allegory (like Plato’s Cave). He is not really speaking about cats and mice. So why did he choose these two animals? What do the mice and the cats represent?

“Some of them even got a ride to the polls and got a ride for the next four years afterwards, too.” – What do you think this line about mice getting a ride to the polls (i.e., the place to vote) means?

“Now, I’m not saying anything against the cats. They conducted their government with dignity. They passed good laws – that is, laws that were good for cats.” Do you feel that the cats are ‘evil’ or ‘bad’ in this story? Or are they just following their nature?

Why do cats make laws that are good for cats?

What happens when the mice are upset with the cats and their laws?

“And when they couldn’t take that anymore, they voted the white cats out and black ones in again. Then they went back to white cats. Then to black cats. They even tried half black and half white cats. And they called that a
coalition. They even got one government made up of cats with spots on them: They were cats that tried to make a noise like a mouse but ate like a cat.” What is Tommy Douglas saying about the various political parties here?

The speech makes mention of putting ‘Bolsheviks in jail. How do you feel about the idea of communism being illegal and people being jailed for it?

What is Tommy Douglas’ conclusion and do you agree with him?



3rd Assignment

Date: Thursday 29th May


Objective: To give a short presentation in pairs that provides your own interpretation and thesis on one of the concepts present in Asimov’s The Last Question.


Outline: Stage One – First you must highlight one of the themes from the story that you wish to analyse. There are countless ones in there: environment, population, family, names of people, immortality, creation, lying, and many many more. You may refer to the questions on the website to help you identify a theme or ask me if you cannot think of one.


Stage Two – Demonstrate how and where the theme exists in the story. Give evidence of the theme from Asimov’s work and, if possible, explain how Asimov portrays it (i.e., positively or negatively)


Stage ThreeThis is the most important stage and should form the main part of your presentation. This is where you have to present your thesis concerning the theme that you have chosen. The thesis should be your subjective opinion or idea concerning one of the themes. For example, if you chose to highlight the idea of ‘lying’ in stages one and two, your thesis in stage three might be “lying is never possible as it hides from the truth; no matter how people feel, the truth is more important than people’s feelings.”


During your presentation you try to present, persuade, and convince people that your thesis (your idea is correct). When doing so you can move away from the text and give examples from other situations and contexts.


Time: You should look to present for around ten minutes. You will not be marked strictly according to time, however. The most important thing is that your presentation feels complete and finished.

Sir William Golding


Sir William Golding is one of Britain’s finest writers. He is probably most famous for his 1954 work Lord of the Flies. He has been awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature, a Booker Prize, and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1988.

We will look at a few of his ideas on Tuesday. First, we will listen to his voice and hear him discuss some of his inspiration for his famous novel. Listen to the short video clip below

1) How do you feel about his assessment that “women are far superior to men”?

2) He claims that, for whatever reason, women can’t be grouped together as a example or model of society. Why do you think he says this and how far, if at all, do you agree with him?

3) He didn’t want to include both boys and girls in his story because then it would naturally become about sex and this would make his work seem trivial. Do you believe that there is too much association with love, romance, and sex in today’s stories, dramas, and films and that it has a detrimental effect? Or is it an essential part of human nature to discuss?

We will also look at his short essay, Thinking as a Hobby

The most important concept of Golding’s that we need to understand is the three types of thinkers and how they are depicted by three statuettes: Rodin’s Thinker, Venus of Milo and a leopard


Discussion and Analysis of Asimov’s Last Question


  • We learn at the beginning that ‘the last question’ arose because ‘in jest’ and as a bet while drinking. Remember this and see if affects your opinion of the ending or your understanding of the story as a whole.
  • What is Adell and Lupov’s relationship to the Multivac?
  • The story says that in 2061 people will no longer use fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil). How do you feel about the environment: do you feel the world is going the right way and we will start protecting nature better? Or is the world slowly being destroyed by us?
  • Lupov says that ‘billions and billions of years’ is not forever. Is he correct to say this to Adell or is he being an annoying contrarian?
  • What is the question that the two men ask the Multivac?
  • What do you notice about the names in the second part of the story?
  • Jerrord talks about the problem of growing populations and the over-crowding of the world. Do you see this a problem? If so, how, at all can it be controlled? Is China’s ‘one-baby policy’ acceptable? Capital punishment for bad people? Controlled sterilization for certain people?
  • Why does Jerrord ask the same question as Adell and Lupov to the Microvac?
  • How do you feel about his lying to the children? His first example of ‘entropy’ makes them scream and cry so is he right to not tell them the truth?
  • How have the names changed by the start of the third part?
  • In the third section, is it said that the problem of immortality has been solved. Old age and death no longer worry humans. This has been something that mankind for which mankind has constantly searched for: is it a possibility?
  • How has the computer changed since the beginning of the story?
  • Why do MQ-17J and VJ-23X ask the computer about entropy?
  • “Minds not bodies” how are humans beginning to change?
  • Everybody calls their galaxy ‘The Galaxy’ but man must have originated from somewhere. Does this mean our origins are important? Is it important to you where you come from?
  • Man built the original Multivac but how do the latest computers evolve or get better?
  • Why does Zee Prime ask the question of reversing entropy to the computer?
  • Man’s thoughts have become one in this section. Is this a pleasing or a scary thought?
  • The Cosmic AC said, “NO PROBLEM IS INSOLUBLE IN ALL CONCEIVABLE CIRCUMSTANCES.” Wonderful, isn’t it? Or foolishly unrealistic?
  • All man’s minds merge into one and then eventually disappear. How do you feel about Asimov’s ending of the human race? Is it one we can look forward to or one that we should avoid?
  • Why does AC keep working on the question…why doesn’t it stop?
  • How does the story end?
  • How do you feel about Asimov’s vision of the future?
  • What do you agree with or disagree with in the story?
  • Regarding the ending specifically, what can you say about it?

Tolstoy’s Devil and Asimov’s Last Question

Tolstoy’s Devil
Having read through Tolstoy’s How Much Land Does a Man Need? and seeing the obvious warnings he gives about the dangers of greed and his continued advocating of asceticism, let us briefly examine your feelings about the presence of the devil in the story. The pdf version we read through together does not contain any elements of evil, it talks solely about man’s greed and desire; however, the html version includes the devil at two major parts of the story: at the beginning to tempt Pahom into action and as he dreams when spending the night as the Bashkirs’ camp. Review these two sections and try to answer the following questions:

1) In your opinion, does the presence of the devil make the story better or worse?

2) What would Tolstoy’s motivation be to include the devil?

3) Why do some religions and philosophies personify evil but others do not?




Isaac Asimov: The Last Question

We now look to another Russian writer and one of the founding fathers of modern science fiction, the great Isaac Asimov. The following short story was written in 1956 and Asimov said that, of the many that he wrote, this was his favourtie.

Because it is written from a science fiction perspective, some of the words and terms might seem confusing to you. That is fine and understandable: I will attempt to answer any questions about vocabulary you might have in class. The main thing is to attempt to understand the ‘idea’ of the story and see the bigger picture that Asimov is creating.

You can find the text here:



Notes on the Nature of Evil from Last Week


Benedict de Spinoza states

1. By good, I understand that which we certainly know is useful to us.
2. By evil, on the contrary I understand that which we certainly know hinders us from possessing anything that is good.


Budda – Siddharta

“What is evil? Killing is evil, lying is evil, slandering is evil, abuse is evil, gossip is evil: envy is evil, hatred is evil, to cling to false doctrine is evil; all these things are evil. And what is the root of evil? Desire is the root of evil, illusion is the root of evil.” Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.



There is no concept of absolute evil in Islam. Within Islam, it is considered essential to believe that all comes from Allah, whether it is perceived as good or bad by individuals; and things that are perceived as evil or bad are either natural events (natural disasters or illnesses) or caused by humanity’s free will to disobey Allah’s orders.



There are relatively few ways to do good, but there are countless ways to do evil, which can therefore have a much greater impact on our lives, and the lives of other beings capable of suffering

Four Views

Views on the nature of evil tend to fall into one of four opposed camps:

  • Moral absolutism holds that good and evil are fixed concepts established by a deity or deities, nature, morality, common sense, or some other source.
  • Amoralism claims that good and evil are meaningless, that there is no moral ingredient in nature.
  • Moral relativism holds that standards of good and evil are only products of local culture, custom, or prejudice.
  • Moral universalism is the attempt to find a compromise between the absolutist sense of morality, and the relativist view; universalism claims that morality is only flexible to a degree, and that what is truly good or evil can be determined by examining what is commonly considered to be evil amongst all humans.

Faith 76 & Faith 77 Mid-Term Schedule


Faith 77 Thursday 24th

10:30  Na In Young     10:35  Shin Jeong Min      10:40    Ha Seung Hee       10:45   Kwon Li Yang

10:50  Yu Do Jin           10:55   Kim Ha Eun            11:00     Jeong Ji Eun         11:05  Park Su Jin

11:10    Lee Eun Seo      11:15    Choi Yun Young    11:20   Park Su Min            11:25  Lee Su Han


Faith 77 Thursday 24th

1:20    Kim Hyo   Jin            1:25    Lee Seung Hee        1:30  Monica        1:35  Mun Da In

1:40    Gang Seung Hyun   1:45     Kim Ji Min               1:50 Seo Da Eul   1:55  Park Ji Eun

2:00    Kim Ji Hye                 2:05     Lee Chung Seon    2:10  Im Ji Hyun  2:15 Jo Jae Won

2:20    Jo Yae Jin                  2:25     Ga Yae won


If you are unable to attend at your specific time, please try to swap with one of your classmates. Of course, you may contact me if there are any problems


Example Questions:

You should choose to discuss one of the following materials. You will be asked to give your thoughts and opinion on the text and to answer a couple of questions on it.



Why do people look down on beggars?

Why do we feel money is a test of virtue?

Do you think there are more or less beggars in today’s world (2014) than in the past?


What is the meaning of the story, Before the Law?

Do you think Kafka thinks positively or negatively about the law?

Do laws protect or punish people in our modern world?

J.S. Mill:                           

How does Mill feel about geniuses?

Do you think Mill is a big fan of democracy?

Does our society today produce more of fewer geniuses than in the past?


 What does the Circular Ruins say about time?

How would you describe the relationship between man and gods in the Circular Ruins?

Is Borges right or wrong to say that we have all been made by someone else?


Why does Plato think the world is an illusion?

Do you think Plato had positive or negative thoughts about society?

Are modern people more or less chained in the cave than people in the past?


Are knowledge and virtue different? Is so, how?

Are we right to judge other civilizations as being inferior or superior to our own?

Do you feel that society is progressing?


Week Seven – Korea and Tolstoy

korean-mealDiscovering Korea

We spent some time discussing Fukuzawa Yukichi’s work and how, if at all, Koreans may possess a different ‘spirit’ to those from the west. Further to this discussion, and from a more modern and Occidental vantage point, we will briefly treat this short article by the President of Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch.

It will be important to note how far you agree with his assessment and whether he makes any claims that you feel are instinctively true or false.




Leo Tolstoy – How Much Land Does a Man Need?

Our second text for the week will be this short story by Tolstoy. It deals with the nature of greed, satisfaction, and possession – among other things.

In our analysis we will try to understand and analyse the concepts of irony and characterisation. Primarily, however, like with all our texts, it is our mission to ascertain whether the work we study has any relevance in the modern world in which we live and how we, personally, feel about the ideas presented.

The text is available here: