Chapter 3 Course Companion – Part I

1.   Take a book you’ve read recently (I am choosing to use Life of Pi by Yann Martel) and answer the four questions on this page (90).

  • Out of all possible topics or ideas regarding knowledge, what have the authors selected to give you?

In this book, one big decision is left up to the reader. Up until the end, this book just seems like an entertaining story. But, then there’s the twist moment where the reader must reflect on everything that has been said throughout the story and make a key decision based on the knowledge they have acquired and the things they are willing to believe.

  • Out of those topics and ideas treated, what have they emphasized, and how?

I don’t want to give away the ending because it’s a fantastic book, but in the story they emphasize what humans are willing to believe and how far we are willing to stretch our minds to understand an event or story. This idea is emphasized through the ending where everything you had read and believed is suddenly turned upside down.

  • What kind of language have they used, and what emotions or values do you identify in the word choice? What images of photographs, drawings, or diagrams accompany the text, and how are they, too, selected and used?

The author uses relatively simple words at times so the reader can understand what is happening in the story. It also gets the reader into the mood of the book and the main character, Pi, because he is simply sitting on a boat, letting his mind wander. But, at other times, the other uses incredibly descriptive words to describe the fear Pi is feeling and what he is going through. In the book, because it is a work of literature, is not accompanied by pictures except for the cover of the novel. But, the cover is the main mental image that the book has painted for me.

  • What is the context in which the book is written – by whom, for what purpose, and within what framework of declared and implicit values?

It is written by a Canadian man who was born Spain. He was raised in many different countries such as Costa Rica, France, Mexico, and Canada. My guess is that he wrote this book because he knows what it feels like to feel so alone and “lost at sea.” Every time Martel moved, I assume he felt like he was cast away in a sea of unfamiliar people and cultures.

2.   Read the green box from Yeshey of Bhutan. Then read about and watch Thomas Pettitt, a Danish philosopher, discuss the Gutenberg Parenthesis and his view of books. Answer the following questions.

  • What are your thoughts about the sanctity of books and how did you arrive to your decision?

I think that books have varying levels of sanctity. For example, “classics” have much more respect and power (in a way) in my opinion than books that teach nothing, are written poorly, and were not original (i.e. Twilight Series). But, books that have remained popular throughout the years are definitely better in my opinion (i.e. Shakespeare’s works, Catch-22, A Tale of Two Cities, 1984, etc.). I arrived at this decision very easily because I think many books are a waste of time and paper whereas others can teach useful life lessons or help us develop our ways of writing in a positive way.

  • Do books really “hold learning”?

I both agree and disagree with this statement. I think that books could hold knowledge if it has useful lessons. But, unfortunately, many books do not (especially today). Also, the reader must be seeking the knowledge contained in the novel they have opened. If they don’t ingest everything that is happening, many of the lessons will simply brush over them. Books’ knowledge must be sought and wanted. Only then do these books truly “hold learning”.

  • How would you rate where you get knowledge – media (various), books, teachers, family, friends, celebrities, etc.?

I think a huge part of our knowledge comes from both books and teachers (who use what they have learned from their teachers and books). This means that most of our knowledge is passed down to us by word of mouth. I also believe that a huge part of knowledge comes from history. We must look at what has happened previously in our world and examine what has worked successfully and what has not.

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