Influences of the Past: Reason vs. Emotion

online image showing balance between reason vs. emotion

I feel that the Enlightenment, which emphasized reason, broad philosophy and learning, and happiness and Romanticism, which emphasized emotions, individualism, and nature, are both equally important periods of time. The former furthered our ways of thinking and reasoning in ways that benefited the government and everyone collectively, while the latter ensured that the individual is also brought into consideration. Thus I do not agree with one perspective over the other, but both to the same extent. The collective is always important, but the individual should not be overlooked. Reasoning is extremely important, but feelings should not be ignored. Learning about the Enlightenment and Romanticism has impacted the way I view our contemporary western culture today by realizing that our culture is based on the combination of ideas taken from these time periods, making me value all our rights and privileges even more.Therefore, the most interesting or important takeaway from this class for me was that many things aren’t really cut and dry; one of two extremes would detract from our society today and to be honest, our society today, even with all its flaws, should not be taken for granted, seeing how much we have progressed from the past.

Survival of the Traitorous

Fat Mouse, Pawel Kuczynski, 2013

This painting perfectly communicates the idea Schiller was getting at in On the Aesthetic Education of Man. The cat attacking the mouse appears to be a common occurrence. However, there is also a well-fed and well-dressed mouse sitting on top of the cat, dangling the other mouse in front of the cat’s face. Replacing the animals with people, the real monster appears to be the mouse who sacrificed the other one, not the cat itself, which is expected to attack the prey that’s being dangled in front of it. Without any words, we can see the artist’s communication of the idea that in order to get ahead, people would sacrifice others that they have a lot in common with, because they care only about themselves.

This merges the sensual, how we visually see the cat and the two mice, and the intellectual, how we perceive all of them in relation to one another. The fact that this image makes us feel disgust toward the happy mouse sacrificing the other one molds our conscience: we are more conscious of our own actions and not using others, to their detriment, for our benefit. We realize that cooperation and kindness are most important, not being on the top at the expense of others. The artist intends to make us reflect on our actions and this in itself makes us better morally.

Manifesting the legacy of our ancestors

Amendment 1 of the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution expresses the sentiment that Congress will not make laws preventing people from exercising free religion or demanding that people follow a specific religion. Furthermore, it grants people the right to freedom of speech. This relates to the picture below of the graffiti boards near the student center. These graffiti boards are used for students to artistically exercise their freedom of speech and for years, students have used them to make a statement, philosophical, political, or otherwise. In this particular picture, the board in question addresses Islam Awareness Week. In the corner it states, “I am who I am because I’m Muslim.” The person who made this makes a very important statement: their religion is a part of their identity. As a part of the U.S. Constitution, freedom of religion is guaranteed to all. Yet in recent times due to terrorism on the part of some individuals, the entire religion of Islam has been discriminated against and looked down upon. This student clearly and proudly states, however, that the people they are today can be attributed, at least in part, to their religion. So here we see this student exercising both their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion against opposition. Therefore, we see the very existence of these graffiti boards as a manifestation of the rights of freedom of speech and religion granted to us in the Bill of Rights, proof that we still try to stick to the values our ancestors intended America to have. From this comes the question: if religion is linked to one’s identity and should be protected, should all parts of our identity be protected by the law? What other parts of our identity (that aren’t addressed by the Bill of Rights) do we still need the government to protect?

Lazy, timid, or disobedient? Guess you aren’t enlightened!

Kant’s philosophy that enlightenment is intricately connected to freedom to reason and courage to present one’s ideas is a very interesting concept. In fact, he equates laziness and a lack of courage to “immaturity” that prevents one from being enlightened. In particular, he claims that this freedom is especially important when addressing society as a whole rather than a specific audience (public), as this can lead to the enlightenment of the public. However, he later claims that freedom for the private use of reason should be restricted because one must obey their superiors at their job as well as the laws of government, or else society itself would fall apart. So overall, freedom only applies when it furthers enlightenment (public use of reason) compared to when it hinders it (private use of reason). That being said, a ruler should embrace the freedom of reason and opinions of his or her subjects to further the enlightenment of humanity. I find his opinion understandable, but do not entirely agree because I believe in certain cases, revolution is quite necessary for the enlightenment Kant speaks of. For example, the American revolution that freed the United States from British control presented many of the values (including liberty) that, over time and refinement, progressed our society to the point it is at now.

Recently, the Kenyan president, Daniel Arap Moi, passed away. Some remembered him as a kind leader who helped kids pay school fees and cared about the common man. Others saw him as ruthless toward those who did not fall in line. The latter includes Reverend Timothy Njoya, a retired Presbyterian Church of East Africa Minister. He accounts how he argued with Moi’s policy of single party rule over democracy and protested on the streets. He also urged people toward civil disobedience to force the government to rectify the constitution. Violence ensued as he was beaten by President Moi’s men for his activism. One may believe that Kant would support Njoya’s actions since he preaches freedom. However, it is likely that Kant may not support Njoya’s actions as he also preaches civil disobedience and Kant believes people have a duty to obey the government even given freedom. How about you? Do you think freedom should be restricted when it comes to obeying the government?


I’m Meghana Ottur (I also go by Meg if you can’t pronounce my name :)), I’m a sophomore, and a neurobiology major. I’m from New Jersey and came here just for the beach (Joking. Kind of.) I’m pretty lazy so most of the time I just hang out indoors, though if I have the energy to move (which is rare), I do go out with friends. So as for my hobbies, I write fictional novels, draw a bit, and game. The novel I’m currently working on is a science fiction thriller about a technologically-progressed future world where people can create and control physical objects (and creatures) using their minds, along with a bunch of other crazy abilities. I’m also planning on improving my artistic skills to post concept art about my story. If you share any of my hobbies or you’re just interested, feel free to come talk to me about them! 🙂

My favorite book in the HUM series would have to be A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I already read it in high school but I found it to be one of Shakespeare’s funniest and weirdest works.

Here’s a really good electronic song with vocals from a game I like. Trust me, it’s good.