First-Year Tutorial:  Freedom (Fall 2005)

Daniel H. Kaiser
Mears 216/x3088
kaiser@grinnell.edu
http://www.grinnell.edu/individuals/kaiser

Is freedom the "natural" condition of humankind, as some theorists maintain, or are humans instead subject to forces over which they can exercise little control? Indeed, do humans covet freedom at all, or do they, as Dostoevsky has the Grand Inquisitor say, prefer to exchange the possibilities of freedom for the security of happiness?  From numerous perspectives, both classical and modern, this tutorial will examine freedom and its limitations.  We will consider how dystopian fiction, religious discipline, slave narratives, neuroscience, and molecular biology, among others, contribute to our understandings of freedom and its boundaries, and what these understandings mean for a liberally educated person.

Required Texts Available for Purchase in College Bookstore

  • Douglass, Frederick.  Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.  NY, 1995.
  • Fulwiler, Toby, and Alan R. Hayakawa.  The College Writer's Reference [CWR].  4th ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 2005.
  • Gazzaniga, Michael S.  The Mind's PastBerkeley, 1998.
  • Moore, David S.  The Dependent Gene.  The Fallacy of “Nature vs. Nurture.” NY, 2001.
  • Zamyatin, Yevgeny.  We.  Trans. Clarence Brown.  NY, 1993.

Materials Available on e-reserve via Burling Library on-line catalog

  • Dennett, Daniel.  “The Reality of Selves” from Consciousness ExplainedBoston: Little, Brown and Co., 1991, 412-30.  B105.C477 D45 1991
  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor.  “The Grand Inquisitor” from Brothers Karamazov, trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.  NY: Knopf, 1992, 246-64.  PG3326 .B7 1992
  • Hamer, Dean H., and Peter Copeland.  “Sexual Orientation,” IQ,” and “Engineering Temperament” from Living with our Genes:  Why They Matter More Than you Think.  NY: Doubleday, 1998, 182-200, 218-35, 295-316.  BF798 .H35 1998.
  • Patterson, Orlando.  “Preface,” “Introduction: The Meaning of Freedom,” “Chapter 2: For the Creation of Eyes: Why Freedom Failed in the Non-Western World,” and “Coda,” from Freedom.  Volume 1: Freedom in the Making of Western Culture.  NY: Basic Books, 1991, ix-xvi, 1-5, 20-44, 402-406.  JC585 .)32 1991 v.1
  • Pinker, Steven.  “Standard Equipment” from How the Mind Works.  NY: Norton, 1997, 24-58.  QP360.5 .P56 1997

Aims and Organization of the Tutorial

The First-Year Tutorial is the only course required for graduation from Grinnell College, and therefore occupies a correspondingly important place in the curriculum.  Many aims drive the tutorial, but most importantly the tutorial aims to teach students to become acute analysts of information, skillful and persuasive writers, and better public speakers—in classroom discussion as well as in more formal contexts.  All these skills will serve the student well, no matter what major or area of study the student may subsequently concentrate upon.  Therefore, although the exact texts or subject matter of the tutorial may never recur in any other Grinnell course the student takes, conscientious participation in the tutorial will inevitably contribute to the student's later success at Grinnell (and after Grinnell).

For much of the time, the tutorial will operate like any other course, although with fewer students than many courses, and often in a consciously less formal atmosphere than many other courses.  However, to fulfill the promise of its name, the tutorial will also employ individual or small-group sessions that resemble the "tutorials" made famous by instruction at Cambridge and Oxford.  At these occasions, students will be expected to bring to tutorial a piece of their own writing about which they're prepared to speak, both to defend their argument as well as clarify their writing. 

For the tutorial to work, everyone must be prepared to participate, every day.  Therefore, it is vital that everyone keep up to date with the assigned reading (and viewing, in the case of videos), and come to class already having thought about the assignment.  To help stimulate useful discussion as well as encourage regular writing, each student will be asked to maintain a journal in which the student records both what the piece under discussion aspires to say, as well as what the reader thinks about that work.  A handout will suggest a format to observe.  It may prove easiest to open a file in which one can simply add a page for each day's writing; that way, by semester's end, all students will have available an entire folder of their thoughts and writing to consider. All students must bring a printed copy of the appropriate daily journal entry to tutorial each time we meet

In the second half of the term we will pay special attention to genetics and neuroscience and what these disciplines contribute to a discussion of human identity.  The final paper will require that students evaluate these arguments, and adopt a point of view, making specific reference to the materials we have studied as well as relevant additional research.  Even though we will continue to discuss genetics and neuroscience for several weeks, we will first discuss this assignment just before fall break to encourage an early start on the planning and organization of the paper.  All students must submit a first version no later than November 22; final, revised essays are due no later than December 8.

Assignments, Grading

Academic Honesty Assignment

required, not graded

Writing Assignments

 
 
  • Journal

20%

 
  • First Essay/Tutorial

15%

 
  • Second Essay/Tutorial

20%

 
  • Final Essay

25%

Oral Assignments

 
 
  • Discussion/Participation

25%

The total, 105%, serves as a bonus, making possible a slight upward adjustment in grades.

Schedule of Meetings

8/21

INTRODUCTORY MEETING

 
  • What is the Tutorial? What Will Be Expected?  How Will This Course Work?
 
  • Registration; Advising Appointments
 
  • Foreign Language Placement Tests (today!); Reading Test (Mon. and Tues. 2 PM, ARH 102)
 
  • What is a Liberal Education?
   

8/22-23 

ADVISING APPOINTMENTS, MEARS 216  (see posted schedule)

   

8/24, 1:30-2:45 PM REGISTRATION: HARRIS CENTER

 

If you need to make amendments in your proposed schedule, you can find me at the Department of History table.

   

8/25

THE ABSENCE OF FREEDOM: A SLAVE’S ACCOUNT

 
  • Read Douglass, Narrative of the Life, vii-xiii, 1-69
 
  • Writing Assignment: Compose and bring to class a brief (1 paragraph) description or definition of “freedom.”
 

About Writing: read CWR on diction: 167-190.  Find in the CWR “Glossary of Usage” (427-445) three examples of confusing word choices or diction errors, and bring them to class for discussion.

   

8/30

IS THERE “FREEDOM” WITHOUT SLAVERY?

 
  • Read Patterson, “Preface,” “The Meaning of Freedom,” “For the Creation of Eyes…,” and “Coda”—e-reserves
 

About Writing: read CWR on sentences: 156-167.  Find a particularly effective, well-worded sentence either in Douglass’s Narrative or in the selections we read from Patterson’s Freedom, and bring it to class.  Be prepared to explain your choice.

   

9/1

SLAVERY AND FREEDOM: A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE

 

With the assistance of Gail Bonath, Associate Director of Burling Library, we will learn how to use the web version of the Human Relations Area Files (eHRAF “Ethnography”) to test Patterson’s hypothesis about slavery and freedom.  See below 9/12-16.

 

Begin reading Zamyatin’s We (see assignment for 9/6)

   

9/6

FREEDOM OR HAPPINESS?

 
  • Read Zamyatin, We, 3-225
 

About Writing: read CWR on paragraphs:  143-150.

   

9/8

FREEDOM OR HAPPINESS?

 
  • Read Zamyatin, We
 

About Writing: read CWR on openings/closings: 151-55.

   

9/12-16

TUTORIALS:  Is “Freedom” a Western Concept?

 
  • Writing Assignment (~3 pp.): On the basis of your investigation of some non-western culture that you have investigated through eHRAF, compose a brief essay that either supports or contests Orlando Patterson’s claim about the relationship between freedom and slavery. The goals here are 1) to clearly identify Patterson’s thesis, 2) to clearly establish the writer’s point of view (contesting or sustaining Patterson’s claim), and 3) to briefly support the contention with an example drawn from eHRAF.
   

9/13

NO CLASS

   

9/15

NO CLASS

   

9/20

FREEDOM OR HAPPINESS?  THE GRAND INQUISITOR

 
  • Read Dostoevsky, “The Grand Inquisitor” (e-reserves)
 

“The Grand Inquisitor” is drawn from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s famous novel, Brothers Karamazov, which you might wish to read in its entirety sometime.  Before reading “The Grand Inquisitor,” you will find it helpful to know about the temptations of Jesus as recounted in Christian scriptures, since Ivan Karamazov refers to them in describing the encounter between the Grand Inquisitor and his “visitor.” You will find convenient access to the text at  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage.  In the “Enter Passage” box type “Matthew 4:1-11” and click on “look up passage.”  You can print the text if you like.

 

About Writing: read CWR on “explaining” and “interpreting,” 30-46.

   

9/22

FREEDOM OR OBEDIENCE?  Is there freedom in obedience?

 
  • Read “The Rule of St. Benedict,” chapters 5 –7, available on-line at:
 

http://www.osb.org/rb/text/toc.html. Click on “On Obedience” and follow to end of frame (“On Obedience,” “On Silence,” “On Humility”).

 
  • Also read “To Be a Monk,” available on-line at:
 

http://www.newmelleray.org/index.html.  Click on “Vocation” and then “To Be a Monk: An Essay,” and follow all the links through this page (most are quite brief).  Compare them with the “awakening” of the Buddha: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/buddha.html#awakening

   

9/27

FREEDOM OR OBEDIENCE?  Buddha and Freedom

 

Read Bhikkhu Bodhi, “The Taste of Freedom,” available on-line at:

 

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/bps/leaves/bl071.html

 

Also read “Right Resolve” (samma sankappo), available on-line at:

 

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/samma-sankappo.html

 

About Writing: read CWR on evidence and arguments: 46-48, 50-58.

   

9/29

TBA

   

10/3-7

TUTORIALS

 
  • Writing Assignment (5-6 pp.)  Consider the materials we have examined on the relationship between freedom and obedience, and prepare a paper that defends a point of view on this relationship.  You need not make specific reference to all the materials we have discussed, but you should consider those relevant to your argument.
   

10/3

NO CLASS

   

10/5

NO CLASS

   

10/11

A GENETICALLY-DETERMINED WORLD?

 
  • View the video from director Andrew Niccol,  “GATTACA”
 

G2211 (107 mins.), Burling Listening Room Reserve

 
  • Read Handouts
 

About Writing: read CWR 64-74 on revising.

   

10/13

WHO IS THE SUBJECT OF FREEDOM?  Looking ahead to final paper

 
  • Read handouts
   

F A L L  B R E A K

   

10/25

MY GENES MADE ME DO IT!  Genetic Determinism

 
  • Read Hamer and Copland, “Sexual Orientation,” “Genetics of IQ,” and “Engineering Temperament”—e-reserves
   

10/27

DID NOT!  NATURE AND NURTURE

 
  • Read Moore, The Dependent Gene, 3-15, 32-63, 67-128
   

11/1

DID NOT!

 
  • Read Moore, The Dependent Gene, 129-168, 180-244
   

11/3

NO CLASS

   

11/8

NEUROSCIENCE AND FREEDOM:  ARE WE CAPTIVES OF OUR BRAINS?  HOW MANY SELVES ARE WE?

 
  • Read the on-line account of Phineas Gage at either:
 

http://science-education.nih.gov/nihHTML/ose/snapshots/multimedia/ritn/Gage/Broken_brain1.html

 

or

 

http://www.epub.org.br/cm/n02/historia/phineas.htm

 
  • Read handout, “A Case of Multiple Personality”
 
  • View the video “Three Faces of Eve” (1957), T4118 (91 mins.) Burling Listening Room Reserve
   

11/10

 CONSCIOUSNESS:  WHO CAN BE “FREE?”

 
  • Read Pinker, “How the Mind Works”—e-reserves
 
  • Read Dennett, “The Reality of Selves”—e-reserves
   

11/15

THE BRAIN AND I:  BRAIN CONSTRUCTION AND THE “FICTIONAL SELF”

 
  • Read Gazzaniga, The Mind’s Past, xi-xiii, 1-83
   

11/17

THE BRAIN AND I:  “INTERPRETERS” AND HUMAN AGENCY

 
  • Read Gazzaniga, The Mind’s Past, 85-175
   

11/22

FREEDOM AND HUMAN NATURE: SUMMING UP

 
  • Papers due
   

T H A N K S G I V I N G

   

11/29

TBA

   

12/1

TBA

   

12/6

TBA

   

12/8

DUE:  FINAL VERSION OF FINAL ESSAY

 

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