Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Charles Darwin wrote about his journey with religion during his life in the second half of his autobiography.  Darwin mentioned that he was more religious during the earlier parts of his life, and gradually, over the years, became more aligned with agnosticism.  This obviously had to do with Darwin’s scientific observations and inquires.  I believe that this path was a relatively common one among people of that time, and even today.  Even in our current generation parents instill their religious beliefs into their children, and as their children grow up, they often form their own opinions. This seems like a normal progression of a person’s beliefs to me.
            Ben Franklin went through a similar struggle with religion, however, his path seemed to be slightly more typical. Franklin’s parents were religious, and Darwin’s father was not.  I believe that the movement away from religion that one’s parents believed is more typical and happens more frequently. With Darwin, his father and grandfather were not considered religious men. Darwin considered himself religious even though his father was not. Both Darwin and Franklin moved away from religious as they aged, but I find it interesting how Darwin adopted Christianity and after research followed the same views as his father and grandfather.

            I also found it interesting how Darwin’s social interaction declined as he aged.  I figured that Darwin would have traveled and spoke frequently to new people about his book and his findings.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Charles Darwin is obviously one of the most well known scientists of all time, but like many people, I did not know much about his life other than his work in the Galapagos islands and his writing of the Origin of Species.  After reading this first part of Darwin’s autobiography, I have the same reaction I did after reading Franklin’s autobiography.  The writing in an autobiography allows the reader to better understand the type of person the author is, rather than just a biographer highlighting typical successes.
            I found Darwin’s early life and schooling very easy to connect with.  I feel as though hearing about successful people’s journey to find their career is comforting in a way.  Darwin obviously struggled to become attached to a single discipline in his schooling, jumping from medicine to religion and studying various forms of science.  I also found Darwin’s struggle to find a career similar to Franklin’s in that they both had their father’s influence in their field of study and they jumped between different disciplines.

            I enjoyed reading more about Darwin’s life and about his journey towards writing about evolution. I also found it  quite entertaining when Darwin wrote about his collecting of beetles, and about how successful people knew also collected beetles, so it must be a sign for success.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

In book one of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle talks about the how goods created and desired by people are all different and he believes that there is a “chief good.” Aristotle eventually gets to writing that the ends to all of the goods, is happiness.  According to the Aristotle, different people have different understandings of what brings happiness, for example, vulgar men believe pleasure brings happiness, other believe honor, and some even believe wealth brings happiness. He later elaborates that happiness can be the superior good because it is exclusively chosen for itself, and never for the sake of something else.
            Even before the statement that Aristotle made about choosing happiness for itself and nothing else, I agreed with the idea that happiness is the most desirable good. I was easy to agree with and seemed to make sense without me giving it much thought.  After understanding the reasoning behind why this is the case in Aristotle’s opinion, it made more sense.  Almost every action I have taken in my life has been working toward being happy either immediately or later in life.  I have worked through hard times at school exclusively so that I may be happier in my future employment, whether it be the job that makes my life happier, or the increased earning potential, or more likely both.

            In the second book, Aristotle explains his opinions on virtues and vices.  A line in the beginning of this book explained how habits and acts determine a person’s ability to hold to a certain virtue. I found this to be very relatable to Franklin’s method of improving himself by recording his faults and making a conscious effort to act according to his own virtues.  Franklin was following this idea in a sense. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

After reading the first chapter of Dr. Pennock’s book, I am definitely excited at the chance to read more in the future. I found the way each section was laid out, flowed well and did not lead me to have any unnecessary confusions. I really appreciated the instinctual argument that was discussed in this chapter. When I read Darwin’s quote, about having the instinct for Truth, knowledge and discovery, etc. I assumed that it was just a somewhat odd motivated working mans quote. I know it is not entirely similar, but I had pictured Darwin writing this at the start of a long experiment excited for the outcome and trying to think past the long hours he would have to put in. Personally, had it not been brought up in the chapter, I would have not thought twice about the quote, as I believe a lot of people would have done.  But after reading this chapter, it definitely seems to align with other ideas and theories about instincts. It makes a lot of sense when written about in this way. Because we have more developed brains and have the ability to think more critically, the way our instincts work can be more subtle. We still have the basic drive to understand and know truth based partially on the fact that it could help us be more survivable and perhaps more fit in general. This resonated with me and I found many of the examples and theoretical situations to help with my understanding of the concept. In general, I really enjoyed the chapter and agreed with the idea that the drive and curiosity a scientist has may have a deeper meaning. Although, a thought that I just had was the fact that I did not have a definitive opinion prior to reading may skew my view of the reading. This may not be the case but it was just something I thought of that might be interesting.