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Vonegut’s Cat’s Cradle: Thoughts on Science, Ethics, and Being Human

By Jiwon Choi, VI Form

Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle: Thoughts on Science, Ethics, and Being Human

I am drawn to science. I always loved history and literature, too, but science made sense to me, scratched my itch in a way other subjects never did. As I did chemistry experiments or drew molecular diagrams, I felt part of a never-ending search for truth, an heir to the great, inexhaustible spirit of inquiry.

And every year I saw more evidence for the validity and even nobility of that spirit. Whether it was the laser cutter that lets me instantly carve out trophies for the little kids who come for free robotics classes on Saturdays or a news item about advancements in self-driving cars, science met my expectations time and time again, sparking my imagination and literally making my heart beat faster.

Of course, I’m not ignorant of the repercussions that come along with new discoveries. I’ve read plenty of pieces about the threats AI will pose to the workforce, and I worry about accidents involving autonomous cars. But still, when I did my mental cost-benefit analysis, science was unequivocally a net good. And besides, isn’t it science itself that will find solutions to these problems? Surprisingly to me, it was in a literature class that my attitude about science was shaken forever. Almost immediately upon beginning Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, my heart sank, filling me with an uncomfortable feeling I couldn’t resolve. (more…)

Deep Work in Practice at St. Mark’s (Part 3)

By Dr. Colleen Worrell, Director of The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning

Deep Work in Practice at St. Mark’s (Part 3)

Deep Work is a skill that the Center is hoping to build into each student’s “learning playbook.” The first two LEO articles (Make Deep Work Your Super Powerand Productivity, Neuroscience, & Deliberate Practice) aimed to introduce the term and core concepts to the St. Mark’s community. This third article focuses on deep work from the perspective of two St. Markers, 6th Former Sophie Haugen, and Classics teacher, Dr. Harwood. Each of them responded to the following questions:

  • What are some ways that you deliberately practice deep work at (or beyond) St. Mark’s?
  • What is the value of deep work?
  • What recommendations do you have for St. Marker’s who’d like get started with deep work?

Sophie Haugen, 6th Former:

I am not an expert on “doing” deep work, but I do try to practice it and I have learned about its importance, especially as a student at St. Mark’s where our schedules and lives are extremely packed and do not easily enable us to practice deep work all the time. Last year, I fell into a multi-month-long rut of frustration and lack of satisfaction from everything I was doing in my academic courses. I was putting in excessive time and what I perceived to be effort and hardwork but was not seeing the results in my grades or my actual understanding/engagement with the material. (more…)

How does Montag’s Rashness Impact Him?

By Samantha Wang, III Form

How does Montag’s Rashness Impact Him?

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a story about banned books and thoughts. People in that society are wholly brainwashed by the government into believing that no reading and thinking can bring them happiness. Montag, one of the firemen responsible for burning books, is curious about them. This leads him to read and think, which are illegal in his society. After realizing the lack of literature and thoughts necessitates the lack of happiness and love in the world, Montag begins to take actions, often rashly, to rebel against the reality. Although Montag’s rashness occasionally hinders him from achieving his goals, his braveness also helps him rebel and builds a human character. His imperfection adds a touch of realism to the story, making it more understandable to readers. (more…)

The Absurdity of Life: Dissonance in Sub specie aeternitatis

By June Hyunjoo Seong, V Form

The Absurdity of Life: Dissonance in Sub specie aeternitatis

One often falls upon the conviction that their present moment is absurd or the composite of the absurdity of moments makes their life absurd. In that this overwhelming conviction has and does consume a great majority of man, the conclusion has been made that life, as in the entirety of earthly existence, might be absurd. When one comes to view this conclusion on a more particulate basis, during which the conviction of the majority is dismantled, one can see the obvious discrepancy between the state that is life and the absurd that is the conviction in contention. (more…)

Newton’s Law of Synchronicity?

By Kyle Rubin, VI Form

Newton’s Law of Synchronicity?

Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of motion, which reads, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” can be applied outside of the scientific realm and into the philosophical realm in that every action is done for a reason. With this in mind, synchronicity exists in that one thing can provide context for another, whether they have a direct correlation or not.

Synchronicity provides context for how or why some things occur. It explains how two things, whether physical or conceptual, may seem related even though they have no discernable connection. Newton’s third law of motion covers similar bases to synchronicity, in that the third law gives insight into the opposing side of an action. Newton provides the reason for why a reaction will happen, similar to how synchronicity describes why events appear similar even though they may not be explained by conventional standards. (more…)

Words, Words, Words

By Mr. Jonathan Golden, Systems and Information Services Librarian

Words, Words, Words

I love words. What’s not to love?
It’s amazing to think that nearly the totality of human knowledge and understanding is expressed through a set of squiggles. What’s even more amazing is that each of us, every day, hears or reads sentences that we’ve never heard or read before and we are able to understand them.

Come to the library and pick a random book, flip to a random page, and read a random sentence. Ludwig Wittgenstein did not hold words in such high esteem. He argued that words merely express facts and are therefore devoid of any sort of value. Everything other than facts, everything that we care about, and everything that makes life worth living must exist outside of language. Language, according to Wittgenstein, is insufficient to capture the meaning outside of pure facts. He concludes his famous Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus with the statement, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” It’s hard to take a bleaker view on words.

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