by Gabe pollow
In the fall semester of our Preceptorial class we covered many books that represented strong points about many issues. Many of these books took place in history a long time ago, although this is true they seem to be timeless. I have learned a great deal throughout all of the readings, and changed many of my feelings about several different issues. The books that had then most impacts on my thoughts were The Symposium, The Koran, The Apology, and So Long A Letter. These books have all made me fight the beliefs that I had prior to reading them, which is a sign of a strong book.
The Symposium was a unique book that had many stories and different books inside of it. This book either altered my views a small amount or change them drastically. There were many instances in the book that I didnt know prior to reading it such as the title, which means a drinking party. One thing that I felt throughout life was that if you were in trouble, meaning a life or death situation, many people would die for you. My personal feeling was that this thought made sense, but after reading this book I realized that I might be mistaken. When I read that only a lover would die for you I started to realize that this might be true. The men in this time had lovers who were boys, or young men, and these lovers would die for their older lovers. The book also said that even a wife, although not as important as a lover would die for. After taking time to think this through, I realized that this might be the case, after all why would you want to risk your well being and life for someone you barely know. Maybe the
only reason that you would die for someone was to be known as an honorable person, but to be honest, what does that truly matter when your dead?
The book also states that lovers will forgive for breaking vows. I didnt feel that this could be true seeing is how there are so many divorces in this day of age, but I came to the realization that this is a false thought on my part and I do in fact concur with the books statement. The reason I believe this to be true is that if your lover (s) are truly your lover (s) than he or she cannot live without your love. If he or she chooses not to forgive for their lovers breaking the vows of their relationship then they will not be with that lover anymore. This made me think until I came to that conclusion that the book was right.
One belief in the book was that love is a path to virtue. I didnt believe this to be true for many reasons. One of these reasons I felt was that love cannot make anyone virtuous. I thought that in order to be a virtuous person you have to take that upon yourself by doing right and abiding by good beliefs all of the time. But virtue is something that a lover or love can help you gain. Love makes you a good person most of the time, and gives you qualities that are virtuous. Whenever one is in love, they turn into a virtuous person by being pure, and by resisting bad temptations that are frowned upon in society. Along with that Something that also caught my mind in The Symposium, was the fact that friends make you virtuous. Prior to reading the book I felt that friends were prevalent in life just for social benefit, but they are truly there to help you make wise decisions that will allow you to enjoy your life. When thinking back to how my friends have saved me from making rash decisions and committing sin I realize
that the book reading gave a strong point, friends are there to help you become virtuous.
A point which is also made in The Symposium is about people searching for their soul mates. They search for their soul mates because they are not complete without them, they are basically half of a person and they need their soul mate to complete themselves. This is something that I did not give much thought to but I realize that its true. Everyone for the most part has this feeling as if they are lacking something in life, and that is a significant other or a soul mate. The Symposium, has convinced me in terms of this. The Symposium, altered many of my notions about certain beliefs.
The Koran, is a book that I have heard or read bits and pieces about in recent years. I didnt actually read as many parts as I have during Preceptorial so I leaned quite a bit. After all of the years of Sunday school, in the Temple, I always thought that I was a son of G-d since Im Jewish. The book stated that Jews and Muslims are actually the son of Abraham. This man had two children with two different women. One of these women was Jewish who was named Leah, and the other was Muslim and her name was Hagar. There were notions in my mind about the religious book, because I thought that the Torah was for the Muslims as well. The Koran is actually the Holy book to the Muslims, and the Torah is for the Jews. The Koran is the most respected book for the Muslims, they abide by it more than the Jews do for the Torah. This book is so religious to them that they recite some parts up to five times a day. This book to them is a guidebook to moral and ethical living, something of which I never knew.
Something that I never knew about The Koran, was that it was a volume of
rhymed pose. In Arabic this is rhymed poetry throughout the whole story, but in English translation it doesnt make the sounds that are intended in the original language. One important thing that I never knew about The Koran, was that Mohammed was the prophet who spoke to the people from Alas voice. Ala would talk to Mohammed and then he would tell the people what Ala wanted them to do. I thought that Ala was around these people and told them himself, but he used Mohammed for that. This was something that I had never thought of before. Along with this I thought that Muslimism had started with a giant following, then I read that it started with 39 followers. These followers grew to 700 and then overtook the city of Mecca. When reading this I was shocked, I never knew this to be true, it seems quite interesting.
The Apology, a book from The Symposium was quite an educational lesson for me. I learned many things that I had not know, and corrected a fair amount of my preconceived notions. In The Apology, Socrates had charges brought against him for corrupting the youth. All the time before reading The Apology I felt that they brought charges to him because they thought that he was having homosexual love with young boys, but apparently that was not the case. The charges were brought against him and in this particular story he is in the courtroom in front of the judge and the jury. In his statement he had said everything that he had intended to do throughout the times of which the charges were brought against him, which had nothing to do with homosexual love.
While I thought that Socrates was a homosexual pedofile he was actually an intellectual man who wanted to make people think and create brilliant young minds. He
didnt do anything wrong. He went against the popular beliefs and challenged them in order to make people think and allow them to change their views about certain issues. I was not quite sure what the Apology was and how he went about getting up in front of everyone and proceeding to tell them what his intentions were, so I didnt have that many feelings prior to reading it. He tells the jury, why would I want to hurt his neighbor, this is because he would then have to live next to that neighbor, meaning the accusations were preposterous.
Socrates believed that a good man couldnt be harmed in life or death, but I have to disagree for the first time in this course ever. Socrates was a good man, he made people think. Socrates was noble and also very humble saying that all he knew is that he didnt know anything, and then he was killed. If a good man, such as Socrates or any other good man cannot get harmed, than why did he? Although I disagree with this viewpoint I agree when Socrates says that when one kills another and feels as if they get away with it that is wrong. Sometime after this he goes into virtue, which was a main theme in The Symposium.
Something heavily spoken about by Socrates is virtue. Socrates felt that people become virtuous by having friends who are honest and lookout for you. By having a lover or someone you love, it is much easier to be a virtuous person. This is something that I had not believed until I pondered enough. I realized that its true, when you are in love you do no wrong, everything in your life you try to complete virtuously.
Along with these books that strongly changed some of my philosophical views was So Long A Letter. This book made me think a slew of thoughts, mainly dealing with the
way that relationships work. The relationship dealing with the main character and her husband was awful. I never knew that a man could have many wives in this time period
as long as he provided equally for them all. I also didnt know that a woman would have to mourn an ex-husbands death even after he left her for another woman. The final thing that I learned from this book is that women had such a low status in Muslimism at this time period. Reading this book made me realize how unfair people can be sometimes, in terms of discrimination. Womens social status was not regarded for all that it was worth, and this made me quite angry, nevertheless I did benefit from this book.
This class has been worthwhile, I appreciate the fact that this school requires us to take it because I realize how much I would have missed out if I not taken it. I learned more in this class this semester than any other class. There is so much that we as readers can learn from old philosophers and other countries through their writings I am happy that I had the opportunity to gain knowledge from these old writings. Many people take writings such as The Koran, The Symposium, The Apology and So Long A Letter for granted, but instead of myself doing this, I gained knowledge from each one. I am proud to say that from every book that we read I learned something new, or changed one of my narrowminded beliefs. This class taught a great deal, meaning this class was worthwhile.