This story has inspired men and women for the past 3,000 years to set high goals for themselves and develop a plan to achieve them.
The Odyssey is Homer’s epic poem of Odysseus’ journey home after 10 years of war in Troy. We will follow along on Odysseus’ epic journey, all the while analyzing his ultimate goal, the factors that motivate him to undertake such a journey, and the ways in which he is able to keep going even in the face of temptations and obstacles. Throughout our discussions, you will be encouraged to reflect on your own educational journey in a similar light. This story has inspired men and women for the past 3,000 years to set high goals for themselves and develop a plan to achieve them. It has helped countless people see that even when one suffers detours and setbacks like Odysseus, reaching one’s goals is still possible.
Plato’s Meno deals with the timeless struggle of how to learn something new.
Sometimes people think that if they don’t understand something right away that it is just not in them to learn it. They may say something like, “I’m not a math person” or “I’m not smart enough” and then give up on trying. In the Meno, Socrates confronts a boy who has a similar reaction when working on a difficult mathematical problem and gets him to overcome his false assumption that he cannot learn by guiding him through the process of solving it. After a discussion with Socrates, the boy experiences a shift in mindset from assuming he is not intelligent enough to solve the problem to realizing the s.persisting in the face of uncertainty he could indeed unlock the knowledge needed to find the solution. Throughout the text, Plato challenges us to think about our thinking. How do we know when we know something? How do we know when we still need to do more work before we can know it? In the Meno, Socrates teaches that all real learning begins when we recognize that we don’t know.
Euclid’s text is a model for how to think clearly and logically.
Through the study and demonstration of his geometrical proofs, we will learn the structure of logical arguments and what it means to prove something. This text will help us apply principles of metacognition to our studies by introducing us to the experience of what it is like to really know something. After you understand an entire proof of Euclid’s, you will feel what it is like to really know that something is true. His proofs provide a window onto the beauty of truth and will inspire us to want to open it further. Studying this text will provide you with a benchmark by which you can judge how well you know other things. You should ask yourself about future topics of study, “is this as clear to me as a Euclid proof?” Applying this question is a great way to gauge how well you understand a thing.
Poetry, Revelation, Mathematics and Love: The Human Search for Truth
Selections from Sappho, Du Fu, Li Bai, The Bible, The Qur’an, St. John of The Cross, Rumi, Mirabi, Nammalvar and Kabir.
Meno presents to Socrates a “swarm” of virtues when Socrates asked him to present a definition of virtue itself. Each were reflections of virtue but not one of them the true thing in itself. Yet, must we not begin with the swarm? How will we know we’ve found virtue itself unless we’ve examined all of its instances? This collection of poems and reveled texts presents to you a swarm. A swarm of truth, of beauty, of longing, and of humanity spanning from pre-history to the renaissance. Here we will study the verse of Sappho, which exist only in fragments. Here we will connect with the classical poetry of China. Here we will hear what over half of humanity believes is the word of God reveled through the Hebrew Bible and Qur’an. Here we will hear the inspired word of humankind through Rumi, St. John of The Cross and the Bhakti poet, Mirabai. Human beings from all over the globe and across many cultures, centuries and millennia will speak to us. We will read and discuss their thought while working on demonstrating the geometry of Euclid, who was also a seeker of truth. With the aid of these texts we will inquire into the many ways human beings have sought truth. Fully emerged into this swarm we hope to come out hungrier for the truth then when we came in. It will be an exciting and enriching journey!