Learning how to co-exist

As a person who would describe themselves as being more artistic and interested in the abstracts of life and culture, I find the general perspectives of Romanticism to be the most aligned with my own perspectives but I also have lots of similarities with the Enlightenment perspective. With the ideals of critical thinking and purposeful precautions and research, I think the Enlightenment ideals were necessary for the branch of Romanticism to bloom fully, as the Enlightenment formalized the practice of creating different theories and reasonings for things while the Romanticism focuses on learning embracing and co-existing with these differences.

The Romantic and Enlightenment period has paved the way for governments and citizens of modern societies to engage in political protests and give rights to freedom of expression.

Learning about Enlightenment and Romantic ideals has been an eye-opening experience in learning about how modern society even came to be in the first place. I have always been familiar with the strong historic pattern of religion in culture and daily lives, but through learning about the Enlightenment and Romantic period I understand how modern society was able to divert into diverse ideas and traditions we co-exist in today.

The most interesting takeaway I have from this class is seeing how everything in history through literature, art, etc, are essential building blocks and the foundations of the modern life that we all live in today. For example, by learning about the ideals of Hume and Locke and then comparing those texts with the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, both documents that have an impact on my daily life as they are the laws I live by being a US citizen, has been a really interesting experience.

Freedom of Speech à la Nancy Pelosi

The Declaration of the Rights of Man, written in 1789, is the foundation of American society and its ideals. This declaration determines the rights and liberties of the American people and does not limit it to any one person, meaning any and all American citizens have these rights, even those in government.

Recently, America went through the process of practicing these rights with the impeachment trials of Trump. Now, you can say what you want about how the trials were handled by both parties, but there is no denying the ultimate and most memorable act of freedom of expression and speech performed by Nancy Pelosi. By publically ripping up Trump’s speech after giving her the papers, Pelosi was demonstrating her right to “free communication of ideas and opinions [as it is] one of the most precious of the rights of man” (Article 11). While being in the public eye and in the center of a topic that is so divisive in American society, what power does a public act of expression like this have to those who agree or disagree with her?

Living the “Good” Life

Kant’s discussion and theory of where “goodness” comes from in a world with rationalism and reason is interesting to me as it can be seen in all parts of our everyday lives. Everybody has interacted or have been friends with people who are “good” people with “good” hearts, but what Kant discusses is where “goodness” comes from. Kant argues that the only thing that is good in and of itself in this world is the Good Will. The Good Will is made up of a person’s free will motivated by reason, ultimately choosing its moral duty.

Someone who I believe embodies Kant’s Good Will theory is Greta Thunberg. Like all of us, Greta was born with the ability to have free will and the ability to reason and make her own opinions and thoughts. By motivating her free will by climate change awareness, her actions speak volumes for her passion and dedication to the topic. To be an advocate of this topic, however, Greta has to fight against those who oppose her movement and words (specifically big-name politicians and companies who are threatened by her growing movement), and thus her “goodness” is subject to who is seeing it. For me, as someone who is passionate about sustainability and climate change awareness, I am in awe of Greta. But if I was a company being attacked for using fossil fuels, I wouldn’t view her in the same light.


Here is an example of an adult feeling threatened by a 16-year-old’s Good Will.


Hi everyone! My name is Athena Skoufias and I’m a second-year Revelle student majoring in Urban Studies and Planning and minoring in Economics. I was born and raised in a town in Maryland right outside of Washington DC, so it’s easier to remember me as the girl from DC. As my name suggests, I am Greek but only half. My dad is Greek and my mom is Indonesian so I guess that’s where my interests in different cities and cultures might have stemmed from.

My favorite book from the Hum series is Montaigne’s The Essays from Hum 3. I really enjoyed reading and learning about this book because it was refreshing to read about a “normal” person’s thoughts and observations about life and death and everything in between rather than a book instructing a reader how to live one’s life. It was different than all the books I had read through Hum because of Montaigne’s frankness and honesty about the human experience.