On Tuesday in an English class we talked about some John Donne sonnets, including the famous “Death be not proud” sonnet (Sonnet 11). One which the class spent 45 minutes on (and remember these are all 14-line sonnets!) was Sonnet 13, in which he makes the case that “To wicked spirits are horrid shapes assigned, This beauteous form assures a piteous mind.” He is speaking to himself there,
Naturally, only a 20 minutes later I found myself in philosophy class discussing John Locke and his concept of “real” and “nominal” essences. I guess a true follower of Locke, who believes that a human mind is like ‘a blank piece of paper’ might say that I benefit from studying so many men who share my first name…Anyhow, we talked about Locke’s theories of how our sensations affect our minds, and his theories about why all of our ideas come from experience. To use his logic, if ideas were innate, “children and idiots” would have the same ideas as everyone else, therefore there are no innate ideas. Right…
Socrates Café was held later that day, and there was even a Mirror article about it! The topic was, of course, the mind and the body. After the standard dualist-bashing was over and done with, we started talking about a variety of different things. I recalled learning in History of Modern China how many Chinese were concerned with preserving the family line, and how this replaced an afterlife for them. Then I mentioned the ancient Scandinavian idea of people being reborn (albeit without their conscious memories) in their grandchildren, if they lived honorable lives. At that point the discussion went toward the preservation of an idea within a bloodline, and what tends to continue vs. what changes based on experience. Then something about natural athletes choosing not to make competition their priority.
Anyway it was 5 days ago, so I don’t remember it as well as I did before.
Today I went for a walk on Bellarmine Lawn by myself, right before the last orange part of the sky disappeared. I explored a dirt pile whose smell reminded me of Maine, and found a dismembered pile of trees. I had never seen that part of campus before. Of course, it’s not that interesting, but it’s a place to escape the library for a little while. Maybe it’s just in my mind, but I feel as though I’m specially evolved for the cold. Every building on campus has its heating set a bit too high.