Andrew Kern Sep 17, 2008
The politial season being fully upon us, I have this fantasy that every day I'll be able to review a political ad for its content and determine the truth behind it. Of course, that won't happen because I have other serious responsibilities. Wait a minute; what did I just say? Our most fervent civic obligation, we are reminded repeatedly and redundantly, is to vote. I am an American and proud of that fact. So it is my duty to vote. But how can I vote if I don't know the truth behind the ads? But how can I possibly know the truth behind all the ads?
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Andrew Kern Sep 16, 2008
Last night, when I was earnestly wishing I was fast asleep, a thought came to me that I thought (it being very late or very early) was quite profound. It went something like this, though of course all the profound illumination of the insight has faded with the light of day:
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Andrew Kern Sep 14, 2008
In the middle of the main section of the book of Judges is the famous story of Gideon who defeated the Midianites with 300 soldiers. The layers of wisdom contained in this story call for repeated readings, but right now I want to focus on the aftermath to Gideon's triumph. What happens, in a word, is that the people, anxious as always, ask Gideon to be a tyrant, to rule over them and then to have his son rule over them and to have his son's son rule over them.
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Andrew Kern Sep 13, 2008
This is not a political web site and the only reason I've commented on the Republican convention and not the Democratic is because I was traveling during the Democratic. I'm not a dogmatist in politics, longing only for those with authority to allow others in authority to fulfill their responsibilities without interference, while decidedly not believing that the government has all authority or even has the right to distribute authority among its subjects. I guess that is because I believe in citizenship and family.
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Andrew Kern Sep 13, 2008
Here in North Carolina we're having an election for governor, so there are plenty of ads to persuade us to vote one way or the other, which is a great place to apply the enthymeme to syllogism exercise that I described in the blog entry below. In an ad I just saw, a woman who used to run is now confined to a wheel chair by a deadly disease. She tells her story, then points out that nominee Pat McCrory is opposed to embryonic stem cell research. She concludes by asking, "How can Pat McCrory be opposed to hope?"
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Andrew Kern Sep 13, 2008
Or what do you make of assumptions? Are assumptions good or bad? We hear the cliche all too much about what assumptions make of you and me, but have you ever thought about how much that cliche assumes? Next time somebody says something like that to you, make a simple little request. Ask, "How can I avoid making assumptions in the future?" Whatever answer they give you will be both wrong and laden with assumptions. But the funny thing is, there really is a great way to find your assumptions. All you have to do is take a normal every day argument and complete it.
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Andrew Kern Sep 11, 2008
Since I care so much about writing, and since one of the greatest pleasures in life is a well-tempered sentence, I have been reflecting quite a bit lately on what makes for good style. I've been asking how to improve my own style as well as reviewing some writers whom I particularly love reading, among whom I'll mention Wendell Berry, C.S. Lewis, and Evelyn Waugh.
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Andrew Kern Sep 11, 2008
If you visit this blog often, you might be interested to know that I have recently updated the What Is Classical Education page. You can read the update by clicking on the tab above. You can also read more on the definition and principles of classical education if you visit our web site at www.circeinstitute.org.
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Andrew Kern Sep 10, 2008
Here's an example of a beautiful long sentence that couldn't have said what it said if it had said it shortly:
[A great author] writes passionately, because he feels keenly; forcibly, because he conceives vividly; he sees too clearly to be vague; he is too serious to be otiose; he can analyze his subject, and therefore he is rich; he embraces it as a whole and in its parts, and therefore he is consistent; he has a firm hold of it, and therefore he is luminous.
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Andrew Kern Sep 6, 2008

We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so somber, and a rain so penetrating, that further outdoor exercise was now out of the question.

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