Due 9/9/12- Week 1-pt. 1- Comments Genesis and Plato. Please post these comments by Sunday night, Sept. 9th.

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Here are questions for the Genesis reading.  I’ll post some for Plato shortly.

Questions for Week 1: Monday: Plato and Genesis.

The following questions are not to be answered like a quiz.  They are just prime for your mental pumps.  Read them over.  Address one of them, a few of them, or none of them.  Write up a few comments, observations, drawings, schematics, animations, songs, and post them on this comment page.  [If this doesn't work, just email them to me.]


Ch 1

What is authorship?  Are there similar concepts of authorship today as there were back when Genesis was written?

SAT analogy question: Scroll is to cassette tape as  _________ is to CD (or MP3).

What other things have evolved like the Old Testament has?

What was the world/cosmos/space like before God did anything?  What seems to have pre-existed?

Was this section from Genesis written as a metaphor or was it to be taken literally?  Is it science?

How long is the first day?

Think about how all of this might be depicted using special effects for a crazy movie.  Really think about how the action develops… how it would look… what the production themes ought to be…

If there were clocks, at what times do these first days start and stop?  Since they didn’t have clocks early on, what was used as a clock?  When did it come to exist?

Why might a person think that the first human was a hermaphrodite?


How much work would the gardener of the Garden of Eden do on any given day?

It’s not the “Tree of Knowledge,” it’s the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil.  What’s the difference?  Right?

Eden means “delight” in Hebrew.  So the Garden of Eden is the garden of [earthly] delights?  See picture above.  If this interests you, look it up on WikiPee [not to be confused with the up-and-coming hip-hop star] and look at the entire painting: outside and inside.  What does this say about the worldview in 1500… about science… about sin… about fun.

Are humans, before The Fall, immortal?

Did the Man’s rib grow back?

Before the woman was fashioned, did the Man have a gender?  In a similar vein, if there is no light, does darkness mean anything?  Which way is up in outer space?  What’s going to happen to Kristen Stewart without Robert Patterson?

Explain this section from p. 23.  “Therefore does a man leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and they become one flesh.  And the two of them were naked, the human and his woman, and they were not ashamed.”  You might look it up in other translations or in the original.  [What is the original?]


“Gods”?  WTF?  I thought we were doing monotheism?

Did the snake sin by lying to the woman?  Did the woman sin by being duped by the “most cunning of all the beasts of the field that the Lord God had made”?

Did humans know the difference between good and evil before the woman spoke to the snake?  Are they immoral or amoral?  Are dogs immoral or amoral?  How about a person who acts out of a strong conviction… what they understand to be a strong moral imperative?  Do snakes understand the concepts of good and evil.  What the hell is evil? Is it the opposite of good, or the lack of good or both or neither? What is good, for that matter?  Is it something, or the lack of something?  If the woman doesn’t understand the difference, how could she recognize evil in the snake?  Did the woman respect the snake more than God?  Was this the ultimate diss?  I see a movie plot here, sort of a hybrid between the Iliad, West Side Story, and 8 Mile… starring Tupac “He’s-really-alive” Shakur and Rihanna.

If God is omniscient, why did he ask where the man and woman were in the garden?  Wouldn’t He already know?

What is it about nakedness that becomes so unbearable to the man and woman after they eat?

God discovers the transgression.  The man then explains his actions and says, “The woman whom you gave me.”  Is the man trying to put some of the blame on God?  Would he have done that before he ate from the tree?

The woman and the man, all of the sudden, start to rationalize their actions.  Is this the birth of scientific inquiry?  Before they ate the apple, what do you think they thought about?  After eating the apple, what did they think about?

Could the woman and the serpent have mated before all this ugly stuff happened?  Do women have seeds?  What sort of physiology are we talking about here?  What is the word for seed in Latin?

Humans and snakes will forever hate and fear each other.  The translator suggests that this may be the dramatic division between human and beast.  What is the difference between a human and an animal?

The man was cursed to difficult farming in terrible soil, full of weeds and such.  Is this the birth of technology?

Why is bread-eating a punishment?

“Now that the human has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, he may reach out and take as well from the tree of life and live forever.”  Why is this bad?  Did Christianity put a new spin on this?

General questions on the Genesis reading.

The human creation story seems to be told twice.  How do the two versions differ?

What other stories or creation myths do you know and how do they compare with this one?

Discuss this “breath of life.”  What do you imagine it to be?

How is God like a magician?  How is He like a builder or a potter?  How is he like a chemist/physicist?

Did the man and woman have free will or were they fated to fall?  Compare and contrast this to a Greek and Roman myths?

Let’s say the mafia has fixed a horse race.  The outcome is only known by those in the know.  If you, are not in the know, and you bet on this race, are you exercising your free will, or are you just a pawn going through the motions in a predetermined series of connected events?  Does the predetermined outcome of the race negate what free will you think you have?


Now for some leading questions and images on the Plato reading…

“Allegory of the Cave”

Map out the cave and all its features.

How might you modernize this story?  Map out your modernized version.

Imagine yourself a person stuck in the cave.  How would you respond to the crazy guy who tries to tell you about this place other than the cave?

Why does Plato spend so much time on how long it takes for the eye to adjust to light and dark?

On the top of p233, Plato seems to be describing Darth Vader?  What’s that about?

Remember what I said about how people used to see the moon, from last week’s class?

What is the difference between the light of the fire and the light of the sun?

This is an allegory. The reality of the prisoners in the cave is equated to our standard reality.  If that is the case, what is the sunlight world of the guy who escapes the cave equated to in our world?  [Sorry for the tricky syntax.]

Flatland anyone?

Why is the world of light so appealing?

“Higher Education”

One, two, three, …


One is singular.  8 is a collection of ones, or Unities.  But 8-ness, or 8-esse.  What is that?  Is it singular or plural?

A number in the Greek sense, is technically always rational.  It is a counting number (1, 2, 3,…) or a ratio of counting numbers.  It can always be cut up into Unities, or units, or ones.  We say one third, but they would say, “one of three parts.”  All of this can be imagined… right?  One third can be mentally represented as 1 of three apples or 1 of three goats or one of three goblins.  We can even think about 127 of 3,452,356,771 rabbits if we must.  We can think about this stuff.  Now think about ? [pi].  Can you think about ? goats or ? goblins? ? is irrational.  It cannot be represented by any ratio of 2 counting numbers.  You can approximate it with 22/7, but this is just an approximation.  It’s irrational.  We cannot comprehend it.  The pun between irrational number and irrational qua beyond thought is right on the mark.  We cannot think about ?.  Therefore ? is not a number.  It is considered a magnitude.

How does Plato sell the idea that mathematics is good?


What has happened to solid geometry?

Fire… visual ray… we’ll be discussing this later in the term…

Bodies in circular motion… what is he talking about?


Is astronomy a higher level of study?  Plato makes a cryptic argument on pp. 247-48.  How does this relate to the “Allegory of the Cave?”

How does reason differ from sight?  What would constitute as perfect evidence for Plato?

p. 248 “An expert in geometry, meeting with such designs, would admire their finished workmanship, but he would think it absurd to study them in all earnest with the expectation of finding in their proportions the exact ratio of any one number to another.”  Does Plato suggest that such ratios actually exist, but we cannot know them because our world is too sketchy, or is he suggesting that the ratios are not rational or that they are not consistent?


How is music the counterpart to astronomy?

What is meant by  “measuring audible concords and sounds one against another.” [p. 250]

“…knowledge of beauty and goodness…”  [p. 250] Define “beauty and goodness.”

Plato makes a very clear distinction between observation and theory.  How do they relate?

How does dialectic relate to the truth?

The “Myth of Er”

Who are Clotho, Lychasis, and Atropos?  How do they fit into this scheme?  Why them?

Draw up this cosmology.

Why all the sirens singing?  What do they suggest?

Back to the Syllabus

2 thoughts on “Due 9/9/12- Week 1-pt. 1- Comments Genesis and Plato. Please post these comments by Sunday night, Sept. 9th.

  1. Plato’s whole point seems to be to try to put reality and/or truth into intellectual perspective. In much the same way that mathematics exists independently of our description of it, at a much deeper level, so do truth and falsehood.

    A grasp of mathematics or truth or falsehood requires one to understand that “meaning” emerges from the level not of physical objects, but from the level of thinking. Thinking can be considered an operation (though Plato is quick to reject this word) whose operands are not physical entities–such as neurons or glial cells or neurotransmitters, as is fashionably thought–but rather are abstract patterns and symbols. These patterns and symbols are organized into a complex mental structure, and thinking is the activity of operating upon these symbols and patterns with yet other symbols and patterns, which in turn operate upon other symbols and patterns, etc. The structure itself has a pattern, and can serve as a symbol in an even larger conceptual structure, and so on and so forth, ad infinitum.

    In thinking, we deal with collective properties that transcend the physical world. Given facts and rules of logical reasoning, possible thoughts will always be “true” in the sense that they are possible given the facts and rules of logic. Once the thought is interpreted, the thought attains either a meta-truth or a meta-falsehood. If a thought follows logically from the facts, it is a thought and it is “true” in terms of meaning. Determining what a thought means, beyond logical rules of production, is a matter of interpretation. While it may be a true thought in that it follows logically from the facts, it may be a false thought on the level of meaning. It is important not to slide back and forth between the level of thinking and the level of meaning; it can be tricky to tease out the truth or falsity of a thought, and in what sense(s) it is true or false.

    The goal is to assign interpretations in a meaningful way, such that there emerges a higher-level correlation between rational thought and truth. If one can be sure of the strength of the correlation, one can be secure in reality.

  2. A few thoughts that came to mind…
    Truth and Falsehood? Good and Evil? Makes me wonder how they relate.
    Thinking, operating with and on patterns and such…. Where do the patterns come from, and how do we recognize them as patterns? Is it all about symmetry? What kind of symmetry? What we see as patterns, some space alien might see as chaos and vice versa? Bi-Tri-Quadra-lateral symmetry. 4D symmetry?
    -True that- when you write about what is false. The set of all sets that don’t contain themselves… Russell’s Paradox. [See SciAm essay: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=what-is-russells-paradox
    The whole truth-meta-truth thing… What might Plocrates [or Socrato] sat to that idea?

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