"Humanity has made little real progress over the past century or so. Technological innovations have taken place, but the overall condition of humanity is no better. War, violence and poverty are still with us. Technology cannot change the condition of humanity."
The discussion of this statement turns on what is meant by "little real progress" from the first sentence, "the overall condition of humanity" in the second sentence, and "the condition of humanity" from the third sentence. To be sure, war, violence and poverty are still with us and we as mankind are probably more aware of these problems worldwide than ever before thanks to advances in technology and communication. But depending upon the definition of progress and the condition of humanity, this would appear to be an incorrect statement.
First of all, the phrase "little real progress" from the first sentence must be defined. If the author defines progress as elimination of death, war, violence and poverty, then perhaps it could be stated that humankind has not made much improvement over the past one hundred years. People are still dying, wars are still being fought, violence is present almost everywhere and there are most likely people in every country in the world living in poverty. However, if the term "progress" is defined not as elimination of these problems but rather a reduction in them, then great progress has been made over the past century. Life ...
13. "It is primarily through identification through social groups that we define ourselves."
As primarily social animals, human beings naturally seek out different groups to which they feel they have a certain sense of belonging. But there are two different aspects of this issue involved: identifying oneself with a social group for its social implications and identifying oneself with a social group for internal needs. A person can have two different identities, one that involves an individual's self-perception and the way that others see that particular individual. There is a natural dichotomy between the two sides of one's personality that is usually displayed between the different types of social groups with which an individual may identify oneself.
Self-definition can either be honest or dishonest. A person may join a social group because he or she thinks that the people that belong to this type of group are the same as he or she, whether it is true or not. The important detail to the individual is that he or she would like to be the same as the people that belong to this particular social group. As one example, consider a person who grew up poor and poorly educated, but became wealthy through the luck of the lottery or an inheritance from an unknown but wealthy relative. This individual then joins a wine-tasting club and buys season tickets to the local Philharmonic Orchestra and opera house. Although this individual knows nothing...
12. "Some educational systems emphasize the development of student's capacity for reasoning and logical thinking, but students would benefit more from an education that also taught them to explore their own emotions."
The ability of a student to think clearly using reasoning and logical thinking is of paramount importance in order to ensure his or her success as an individual after graduation from a university. To be able to look at a situation and use logic and reason to analyze the facts and develop an opinion or solution is to have a solid foundation for success in all aspects of life. Exploring one's emotions is important, but it is outside of the realm of what can be learned in a university classroom. Emotional self-exploration is best done outside of a classroom situation, although there may be some opportunity for students in the classroom to learn a methodology for doing so.
The ability to survive and thrive in a society is based on the assumption that human beings act according to reason and logic. From a very early age, most people are taught that certain actions will bring about certain reactions, and that by using logic you can figure out what the response will be in most situations. Reasoning is also developed early on, although sometimes it is difficult to explain reasoning to a two-year old. Humans are probably born with a desire for reason and logic, as demonstrated by almost any child's incessant...
"When we concern ourselves with the study of history, we become storytellers. Because we can never know the past directly but must construct it by interpreting evidence, exploring history is more of a creative enterprise than it is an objective pursuit. All historians are storytellers."
There would seem to be two different perspectives presented in the above statement. The first two sentences are concerned with exploring history and would seem to discuss looking at history that has already been written. People who concern themselves with the study of history are not storytellers, but rather story interpreters. The last sentence refers to the people that write about history, the historians themselves. Certainly, to a certain extent, historians must be storytellers because they have a story to tell. But the term "storyteller" seems to imply a greater amount of creativity than what is involved in actually explaining what has happened in history. For the purposes of this essay, I will focus on the perspective of the historian, as it would appear to be the underlying core idea.
From the perspective of the historian, most historians do not have the benefit of having lived through the period of history that they are writing about. By researching through thousands of old letters, legal documents, family heirlooms and the like, historians must look at fragments of history and somehow put these pieces together to reconstr...
"The purpose of many advertisements is to make consumers want to buy a product so that they will 'be like' the person in the ad. This practice is effective because it not only sells products but also helps people feel better about themselves."
Many advertisements do indeed use attractive models or celebrities to entice consumers into buying the products that are being promoted. Who would not like to look like the beautiful models that are depicted enjoying the product? Who would not like to be like a Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods? To a certain extent, buying products to emulate the persons shown in the advertisements can make a person feel better about him or herself. But this type of advertisement can be a double-edged sword - when the product does not make the person "be like" the person in the advertisement, there can be disappointment and disillusionment with the product.
Marketing departments have long known that using attractive models and celebrity endorsers can help to persuade consumers to buy a product. Some customers may actually believe that buying and using the product will make them "be like" the people featured in the ad. For other consumers, there is probably at least some subconscious reaction that causes them to believe that they will in fact assume some of the characteristics of the person depicted in the advertisement. Consumers with a lower sense of self-esteem are more likely to buy a prod...
(topic 9 in the pool)
"In many countries it is now possible to turn on the television and view government at work. Watching these proceedings can help people understand the issues that affect their lives. The more kinds of government proceedings - trials, debates, meetings, etc. - that are televised, the more society will benefit."
Anything that makes a country's government more transparent is certainly a good thing, at least in democratic countries. These societies have a great deal to gain by being able to watch their elected government officials in action. But to broadly state that the more government proceedings that are televised, the more society will benefit is to ignore the fact that sometimes, less is more. Some types of proceedings can even be adversely affected if televised, making society worse off rather than giving it a benefit. Some types of governmental proceedings should receive more televised coverage, but there are some that should probably receive less to ensure that they are properly conducted.
One example of the possible negative effects of televising all governmental proceedings was the trial in the United States of accused murderer and former National Football League superstar O.J. Simpson. The trial was televised and became a huge media spectacle, captivating the nation's attention during the entire trial. Attorneys were well aware that the proceedings were being televised and ...
(topic 7 in the pool)
"The study of history has value only to the extent that it is relevant to our daily lives."
To state that the study of history is only valuable if it is relevant to our daily lives is to ignore the value that history has beyond the day-to-day activities of human beings. It would seem to be a rather shallow statement that implies that humans only live just to survive rather than planning for the futures of their children and the environment.
First of all, to study history is to look at a road map of human behavior that has led us to where we are today in the world. For example, the lessons learned during all of the past wars can make for more effective wartime leadership by avoiding mistakes made by past commanders. From the ancient Chinese author Sun Tzu's book "The Art of War", today's military commanders and even business leaders gather valuable information that allows them to operate more efficiently and effectively. The study of this type of history has a value beyond the daily lives of people. It can lead to a military victory or the success of a business that directly affects what happens in the future, including the futures of those that are possibly not even born yet.
Another example is that by studying history, parents can help to improve the lives of their children in the future. Lessons learned by generations of their ancestors before them could help show them ...
"Colleges and universities should offer more courses on popular music, film, advertising and television because contemporary culture has much greater relevance for students than do arts and literature of the past."
To the extent that contemporary culture is, by definition, current, it does have a much more immediate impact on students and people in general than do the arts and literature of the past. Contemporaneous events directly affect everyone alive at the time because they are occurring at precisely the same time as the individual's existence. But to paraphrase a famous philosopher: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." To a great extent, past arts and literature shape who we are as people at least as much as, if not more than, contemporary culture does.
Everyone alive today is affected in one way or another by the events of the past. Past events have directly led to the way that the world is shaped today. The arts and literature are one of the most well-preserved and documented resources that can give us a direct link into what actually happened in the past. Consider the religious writings of the Bible, the Koran and those of Confucius, as well as those related to Buddhism, Hinduism and all other religions. These writings directly relate to, and in some cases to a great extent control, the behavior of human beings today even though most were written hundreds if not thousands of yea...
"People work more productively in teams than individually. Teamwork requires cooperation, which motivates people much more than individual competition does."
Teamwork as a whole can naturally produce an overall greater productivity through the concept of "synergy", where the total of the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts. But the idea that people work more productively in teams rather than as individuals is going to vary greatly between the types of teams that are organized, the end reward or motivation for both the team and the individuals, as well as the individuals themselves.
Regarding individuals, some people are born with the desire to succeed, no matter what the situation or task that they are facing. These people may evolve into the classic "Type A" personalities that work ferociously because they are driven by an internal fire that says they must always be doing something, whether individually or as part of a team. Other people may desire to be less socially involved or are very highly competitive with other people. For these people, their work is most productive as individuals, because the very idea of cooperating with other people limits their effectiveness and efficiency because they simply do not want to be a part of the team. Whether this mindset is innate or developed over time does not matter, it is merely the state of their being and neither motivation nor rewards can gener...