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©2001-2009. Kathy Schrock. All rights reserved. Page may be reproduced for classroom use.


Harvard University’s list of skills that make an “educated person

Here’s Harvard University’s list of skills that make an “educated person”:

The ability to define problems without a guide.

The ability to ask hard questions which challenge prevailing assumptions.

The ability to quickly assimilate needed data from masses of irrelevant information.

The ability to work in teams without guidance.

The ability to work absolutely alone.

The ability to persuade others that your course is the right one.

The ability to conceptualize and reorganize information into new patterns.

The ability to discuss ideas with an eye toward application.

The ability to think inductively, deductively and dialectically.

The ability to attack problems heuristically.


CRCB C6 Details -- Exercise

details chapter opener material


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Brute force, no matter how strongly applied, can never subdue the basic desire for freedom and dignity.





  1. A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.
  2. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.
  3. Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
  4. Be careful in your dress if you will, but keep a tidy soul.
  5. Better a broken promise than none at all.
  6. By trying we can easily endure adversity. Another man’s, I mean.
  7. Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
  8. Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
  9. Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.
  10. Everything has its limit – iron ore cannot be educated into gold.
  11. Familiarity breeds contempt – and children.
  12. Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
  13. He is now rising from affluence to poverty.
  14. He is useless on top of the ground; he ought to be under it, inspiring the cabbages.
  15. Honesty is the best policy – when there is money in it.
  16. I have made a rule never to smoke more than one cigar at a time.
  17. In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.
  18. It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them.
  19. Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.
  20. Man – a creature made at the end of the week’s work when God was tired.
  21. Man is the only creature that blushes – or needs to.
  22. Man was made at the end of the week’s work when God was tired.
  23. Man will do many things to get himself loved, he will do all things to get himself envied.
  24. Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.
  25. Martyrdom covers a multitude of sins.
  26. Necessity is the mother of taking chances.
  27. Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.
  28. One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.
  29. Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed.
  30. Prosperity is the best protector of principle.
  31. Such is the human race, often it seems a pity that Noah…didn’t miss the boat.
  32. Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.
  33. The more things are forbidden, the more popular they become.
  34. The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
  35. The secret source of humor is not joy but sorrow; there is no humor in Heaven.
  36. The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice.
  37. There are several good protections against temptation, but the surest is cowardice.
  38. There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist.
  39. Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does all the work.
  40. To be good is noble; but to show others how to be good is nobler and no trouble.
  41. Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize it.
  42. When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear.
  43. When in doubt, tell the truth.
  44. When red-haired people are above a certain social grade, their hair is auburn.
  45. When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.
  46. When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain.
  47. Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.



Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, "Hey, there is an elephant in the village today."
They had no idea what an elephant is. They decided, "Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway." All of them went where the elephant was. Everyone of them touched the elephant.

"Hey, the elephant is a pillar," said the first man who touched his leg.
"Oh, no! it is like a rope," said the second man who touched the tail.
"Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree," said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.
"It is like a big hand fan" said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.
"It is like a huge wall," said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.
"It is like a solid pipe," Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.
They began to argue about the elephant and everyone of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated. A wise man was passing by and he saw this. He stopped and asked them, "What is the matter?" They said, "We cannot agree to what the elephant is like." Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like. The wise man calmly explained to them, "All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features what you all said."
"Oh!" everyone said. There was no more fight. They felt happy that they were all right.
The moral of the story is that there may be some truth to what someone says. Sometimes we can see that truth and sometimes not because they may have different perspective which we may not agree too. So, rather than arguing like the blind men, we should say, "Maybe you have your reasons." This way we don’t get in arguments. In Jainism, it is explained that truth can be stated in seven different ways. So, you can see how broad our religion is. It teaches us to be tolerant towards others for their viewpoints. This allows us to live in harmony with the people of different thinking. This is known as the Syadvada, Anekantvad, or the theory of Manifold Predictions.


Comprehension Levels Notes

Levels of Comprehension

The three levels of comprehension, or sophistication of thinking, are presented in the following hierarchy from the least to the most sophisticated level of reading.
  • Least = surface, simple reading
  • Most = in-depth, complex reading

Level One

LITERAL - what is actually stated.
  • Facts and details
  • Rote learning and memorization
  • Surface understanding only
TESTS in this category are objective tests dealing with true / false, multiple choice and fill-in-the blank questions.
Common questions used to illicit this type of thinking are who, what, when, and where questions.

Level Two

INTERPRETIVE - what is implied or meant, rather than what is actually stated.
  • Drawing inferences
  • Tapping into prior knowledge / experience
  • Attaching new learning to old information
  • Making logical leaps and educated guesses
  • Reading between the lines to determine what is meant by what is stated.
TESTS in this category are subjective, and the types of questions asked are open-ended, thought-provoking questions like why, what if, and how.

Level Three

APPLIED - taking what was said (literal) and then what was meant by what was said (interpretive) and then extend (apply) the concepts or ideas beyond the situation.
  • Analyzing
  • Synthesizing
  • Applying
In this level we are analyzing or synthesizing information and applying it to other information.
 from http://academic.cuesta.edu/acasupp/as/303.HTM

Fact or Opinion Notes

Fact or Opinion
from http://academic.cuesta.edu/acasupp/as/310.HTM

Because writers don't always say things directly, sometimes it is difficult to figure out what a writer really means or what he or she is really trying to say. You need to learn to "read between the lines" - to take the information the writer gives you and figure things out for yourself.

You will also need to learn to distinguish between fact and opinion. Writers often tell us what they think or how they feel, but they don't always give us the facts. It's important to be able to interpret what the writer is saying so you can form opinions of your own. As you read an author's views, you should ask yourself if the author is presenting you with an established fact or with a personal opinion. Since the two may appear close together, even in the same sentence, you have to be able to distinguish between them.

The key difference between facts and opinions is that facts can be verified, or checked for accuracy, by anyone. In contrast, opinions cannot be checked for accuracy by some outside source. Opinions are what someone personally thinks or how he/she feel about an issue. Opinions by definition are subjective and relative.

Defining A Fact

Facts are objective, concrete bits of information. They can be found in official government and legal records, and in the physical sciences. Facts can be found in reference books, such as encyclopedias and atlases, textbooks, and relevant publications. Objective facts are what researchers seek in laboratories or through controlled studies. Facts are usually expressed by precise numbers or quantities, in weights and measures, and in concrete language. The decisions of Congress, specific technological data, birth records, historical documents, all provide researchers with reliable facts.

Since anyone can look up facts, facts are generally not the subject of disputes. However, not all facts are absolutes. Often the problem is that facts are simply not readily available - such as battles like the Little/Big Horn where all the witnesses who could give information on what happened died in the disaster.

In 1876, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his 7th Cavalry engaged in a fight with Sioux Indians along the Little/Big Horn Rivers in Montana. Custer and his entire company were wiped out; no one survived to tell what really happened.
In this instance, we can only read opinions on how this disaster befell Custer.

To sum up, facts

can be verified in reference books, official records, and so forth.
are expressed in concrete language or specific numbers.
once verified, are generally agreed upon by people.
Determining An Opinion

Opinions are based on subjective judgment and personal values rather than on information that can be verified. An opinion is a belief that someone holds without complete proof or positive knowledge that it is correct. Even experts who have studied the same issue carefully often have very different opinions about that issue.

Opinions are often disputed, and many times involve abstract concepts and complex moral issues such as right or wrong, fairness and loyalty. Abstract concepts, because they are not easily understood, can never be defined to everyone's satisfaction. For example, each of us holds a personal opinion about what fairness or loyalty is, about gun control and abortion, and these issues always remain a matter of opinion, not fact.

Although opinions cannot be verified for accuracy, writers should, nevertheless, back their opinions with evidence, facts, and reason - by whatever information supports the opinion and convinces the reader that it is a valid opinion. A valid opinion is one in which the writer's support for his or her opinion is solid and persuasive, and one in which the writer cites other respected authorities who are in agreement. If a writer presents an extreme or unconvincing opinion, the reader should remain wary or unconvinced.

Writers often slip their personal opinions into a piece of writing, even when it is suppose to be a "factual" account; alert readers can identify subjective opinions by studying the writer's language.

Opinions are often expressed as comparisons (more, strongest, less, most, least efficient, but):
The painter Pablo Picasso was far more innovative than any of his contemporaries.

Opinions are often expressed by adjectives (brilliant, vindictive, fair, trustworthy):
Ronald Reagan was a convincing speaker when he read a prepared address but was not effective at press conferences.

Opinions often involve evaluations:
The excellence of her science project was a model for other students.

Opinions are often introduced by verbs and adverbs that suggest some doubt in the writer's mind:
It appears she was confused.
She seems to have the qualifications for the position.
They probably used dirty tricks to win.

Some opinions obviously deserve more attention than others do. When expert economists, such as John Kenneth Galbraith or Paul Volcher, discuss the U.S. economy, their opinions are more informed and therefore more reliable than the opinions of people who know very little about economic policy. Similarly, when someone is a specialist on the poet John Keats, that person's opinion of Keat's poems should be given considerable weight.

Become an alert and critical reader. Understand the differences between facts and opinions, and interpret and apply both into your critical thinking.


Fact or Opinion? Quiz

Fact or Opinion?

When a sentence is a fact, click the circle next to fact. When a sentence is an opinion, click the circle next to opinion.
1. Mr. Jones has two sons and one daughter.
2. That picture is by Rembrandt.
3. Her house is really beautiful.
4. My friend has six fingers on one hand.
5. That boy is the nicest person in the school.
6. The group will stop in Denver overnight.
7. L. Frank Baum wrote "The Wizard of Oz".
8. I will finish before the rest of the class.
9. The Bulls are better than the Knicks.
10. Nine plus one equals ten.


1. Fact
2. Fact
3. Opinion
4. Fact
5. Opinion
6. Fact
7. Fact
8. Opinion
9. Opinion
10. Fact



priori and posteriori

A priori and a posteriori

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The terms a priori ("prior to") and a posteriori ("posterior to") are used in philosophy (epistemology) to distinguish two types of knowledge, justifications or argumentsA priori knowledge or justification is independent of experience (for example 'All bachelors are unmarried'); a posteriori knowledge or justification is dependent on experience or empirical evidence (for example 'Some bachelors are very happy'). A posteriori justification makes reference to experience; but the issue concerns how one knows the proposition or claim in question—what justifies or grounds one's belief in it. Galen Strawson wrote that an a priori argument is one in which "you can see that it is true just lying on your couch. You don't have to get up off your couch and go outside and examine the way things are in the physical world. You don't have to do any science."[1] There are many points of view on these two types of assertions, and their relationship is one of the oldest problems in modern philosophy.
See also the related distinctions: deductive/inductiveanalytic/syntheticnecessary/contingent.




[edit]Use of the terms

The terms "a priori" and "a posteriori" are used in philosophy to distinguish two different types of knowledge, justification, or argument: 'a priori knowledge' is known independently of experience (conceptual knowledge), and 'a posteriori knowledge' is proven through experience. Thus, they are primarily used as adjectives to modify the noun "knowledge", or taken to be compound nouns that refer to types of knowledge (for example, "a priori knowledge"). However, "a priori" is sometimes used as an adjective to modify other nouns, such as "truth". Additionally, philosophers often modify this use. For example, "apriority" and "aprioricity" are sometimes used as nouns to refer (approximately) to the quality of being a priori."

[edit]The intuitive distinction

Although definitions and use of the terms have varied in the history of philosophy, they have consistently labelled two separate epistemological notions. The intuitive distinction between a priori and a posteriori knowledge is best seen in examples. To borrow from Jerry Fodor (2004), take, for example, the proposition expressed by the sentence, "George V reigned from 1910 to 1936." This is something (if true) that one must come to know a posteriori, because it expresses an empirical fact unknowable by reason alone. By contrast, consider the proposition, "If George V reigned at all, then he reigned for a finite period of time." This is something that one knows a priori, because it expresses a statement that one can derive by reason alone.

[edit]History of use

[edit]Early uses

The phrases "a priori" and "a posteriori" are Latin for "from what comes before" and "from what comes later" (or, less literally, "[from first principles, but] before experience" and "after experience"). An early philosophical use of what might be considered a notion of a priori knowledge (though not called by that name) is Plato's theory of recollection, related in the dialogue Meno (380 B.C.), according to which something like a priori knowledge is knowledge inherent, intrinsic in the human mind.

[edit]Immanuel Kant

Eighteenth-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1781) advocated a blend of rationalist and empiricist theories. Kant states, "although all our knowledge begins with experience, it does not follow that it arises from experience"[2] According to Kant, a priori knowledge is transcendental, or based on the form of all possible experience, while a posteriori knowledge is empirical, based on the content of experience. Kant states, "... it is quite possible that our empirical knowledge is a compound of that which we receive through impressions, and that which the faculty of cognition supplies from itself (sensuous impressions giving merely the occasion)."[2] Thus, unlike the empiricists, Kant thinks that a priori knowledge is independent of the content of experience; moreover, unlike the rationalists, Kant thinks that a priori knowledge, in its pure form, that is without the admixture of any empirical content, is knowledge limited to the deduction of the conditions of possible experience. These a priori, or transcendental conditions, are seated in one's cognitive faculties, and are not provided by experience in general or any experience in particular. Kant nominated and explored the possibility of a transcendental logic with which to consider the deduction of the a priori in its pure form. Concepts such as time and cause are counted among the list of pure a priori forms. Kant reasoned that the pure a priori forms are established via his transcendental aesthetic and transcendental logic. He claimed that the human subject would not have the kind of experience that it has were these a priori forms not in some way constitutive of him as a human subject. For instance, he would not experience the world as an orderly, rule-governed place unless time and cause were operative in his cognitive faculties. The claim is more formally known as Kant's transcendental deduction and it is the central argument of his major work, the Critique of Pure Reason. The transcendental deduction does not avoid the fact or objectivity of time and cause, but does, in its consideration of a possible logic of the a priori, attempt to make the case for the fact of subjectivity, what constitutes subjectivity and what relation it holds with objectivity and the empirical.

[edit]Johann Fichte

After Kant's death, a number of philosophers saw themselves as correcting and expanding his philosophy, leading to the various forms of German Idealism. One of these philosophers was Johann Fichte. His student (and critic), Arthur Schopenhauer, accused him of rejecting the distinction between a priori and a posteriori knowledge:
...Fichte who, because the thing-in-itself had just been discredited, at once prepared a system without any thing-in-itself. Consequently, he rejected the assumption of anything that was not through and through merely our representation, and therefore let the knowing subject be all in all or at any rate produce everything from its own resources. For this purpose, he at once did away with the essential and most meritorious part of the Kantian doctrine, the distinction between a priori and a posteriori and thus that between the phenomenon and the thing-in-itself. For he declared everything to be a priori, naturally without any evidence for such a monstrous assertion; instead of these, he gave sophisms and even crazy sham demonstrations whose absurdity was concealed under the mask of profundity and of the incomprehensibility ostensibly arising therefrom. Moreover, he appealed boldly and openly to intellectual intuition, that is, really to inspiration.
— Schopenhauer, Parerga and Paralipomena, Vol. I, §13

[edit]Analyticity and necessity

[edit]Relation to the analytic-synthetic

Several philosophers reacting to Kant sought to explain a priori knowledge without appealing to, as Paul Boghossian (MD) explains, "a special faculty...that has never been described in satisfactory terms."[3] One theory, popular among the logical positivists of the early twentieth century, is what Boghossian calls the "analytic explanation of the a priori."[3] The distinction between analytic and synthetic propositions was first introduced by Kant. While Kant's original distinction was primarily drawn in terms of conceptual containment, the contemporary version of the distinction primarily involves, as Quine put it, the notions of "true by virtue of meanings and independently of fact."[4] Analytic propositions are thought to be true in virtue of their meaning alone, while a priori synthetic propositions are thought to be true in virtue of their meaning and certain facts about the world. According to the analytic explanation of the a priori, all a priori knowledge is analytic; so a priori knowledge need not require a special faculty of pure intuition, since it can be accounted for simply by one's ability to understand the meaning of the proposition in question. In short, proponents of this explanation claimed to have reduced a dubious metaphysical faculty of pure reason to a legitimate linguistic notion of analyticity.
However, the analytic explanation of a priori knowledge has undergone several criticisms. Most notably, the American philosopher W. V. O. Quine (1951) argued that the analytic-synthetic distinction is illegitimate (see Quine's rejection of the analytic-synthetic distinction). Quine states: "But for all its a priori reasonableness, a boundary between analytic and synthetic statements simply has not been drawn. That there is such a distinction to be drawn at all is an unempirical dogma of empiricists, a metaphysical article of faith."[5] While the soundness of Quine's critique is highly disputed, it had a powerful effect on the project of explaining the a priori in terms of the analytic.

[edit]Relation to the necessary/contingent

The metaphysical distinction between necessary and contingent truths has also been related to a priori and a posteriori knowledge. A proposition that is necessarily true is one whose negation is self-contradictory (thus, it is said to be true in every possible world). Consider the proposition that all bachelors are unmarried. Theoretically, its negation, the proposition that some bachelors are married, is incoherent, because the concept of being unmarried (or the meaning of the word "unmarried") is part of the concept of being a bachelor (or part of the definition of the word "bachelor"). To the extent that contradictions are impossible, self-contradictory propositions are necessarily false, because it is impossible for them to be true. Thus, the negation of a self-contradictory proposition is supposed to be necessarily true. By contrast, a proposition that is contingently true is one whose negation is not self-contradictory (thus, it is said that it is not true in every possible world). As Jason Baehr states, it seems plausible that all necessary propositions are known a priori, because "[s]ense experience can tell us only about the actual world and hence about what is the case; it can say nothing about what must or must not be the case."[6]
Following Kant, some philosophers have considered the relationship between aprioricity, analyticity, and necessity to be extremely close. According to Jerry Fodor, "Positivism, in particular, took it for granted that a priori truths must be necessary...."[7]However, since Kant, the distinction between analytic and synthetic propositions had slightly changed. Analytic propositions were largely taken to be "true by virtue of meanings and independently of fact",[8] while synthetic propositions were not—one must conduct some sort of empirical investigation, looking to the world, to determine the truth-value of synthetic propositions.
Aprioricity, analyticity, and necessity have since been more clearly separated from each other. The American philosopher Saul Kripke (1972), for example, provided strong arguments against this position. Kripke argued that there are necessary a posterioritruths, such as the proposition that water is H2O (if it is true). According to Kripke, this statement is necessarily true (since water and H2O are the same thing, they are identical in every possible world, and truths of identity are logically necessary) and a posteriori (since it is known only through empirical investigation). Following such considerations of Kripke and others (such as Hilary Putnam), philosophers tend to distinguish more clearly the notion of aprioricity from that of necessity and analyticity.
Kripke's definitions of these terms, however, diverge in subtle ways from those of Kant. Taking these differences into account, Kripke's controversial analysis of naming as contingent and a priori would best fit into Kant's epistemological framework by calling it "analytic a posteriori".[9]
Thus, the relationship between aprioricity, necessity, and analyticity is not easy to discern. However, most philosophers at least seem to agree that while the various distinctions may overlap, the notions are clearly not identical: the a priori/a posterioridistinction is epistemological, the analytic/synthetic distinction is linguistic, and the necessary/contingent distinction is metaphysical.[10]


  1. ^ (Sommers, 2003)[page needed]
  2. a b Kant (1781), introduction, §I.
  3. a b Boghossian (1996), p. 363.
  4. ^ Quine (1951), p. 21.
  5. ^ Quine (1951), p. 34.
  6. ^ Baehr (2006), §3.
  7. ^ Fodor (1998), p. 86.
  8. ^ Quine (1951), §1.
  9. ^ Stephen Palmquist, "A Priori Knowledge in Perspective: (II) Naming, Necessity and the Analytic A Posteriori", The Review of Metaphysics 41:2 (December 1987), pp.255-282. See also "A Priori Knowledge in Perspective: (I) Mathematics, Method and Pure Intuition", The Review of Metaphysics 41:1 (September 1987), pp.3-22. In this pair of articles, Palmquist demonstrates that the context often determines how a particular proposition should be classified. A proposition that is synthetic a posteriori in one context might be analytic a priori in another.
  10. ^ See Baehr (2006), §2 & §3.


[edit]Further reading

  • Boghossian, P. & Peacocke, C., eds. (2000). New Essays on the A Priori, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Descartes, RenĂ©. (1641). "Meditations on First Philosophy". In Cottingham, et al. (eds.), The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, Cambridge University Press, 1984.
  • Fodor, Jerry. (2004). "Water's water everywhere", London Review of Books, Vol. 26, No. 20, dated 21 October 2004.
  • Greenberg, Robert. "Kant's Theory of A Priori Knowledge", Penn State Press, 2001 ISBN 0-271-02083-0
  • Heisenberg, Werner. (1958). "Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science", pp. 76–92. New York: Harper & Row.
  • Hume, David. (1777). An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, Nidditch, P. N. (ed.), 3rd. ed., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975.
  • Jenkins, C. S. (2008). A Priori Knowledge: Debates and Developments, in Philosophy Compass 3.
  • Kant, Immanuel. (1783). Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics, Paul Carus (trans.). Online text
  • Kripke, Saul. (1972). "Naming and Necessity", in Semantics of Natural Language, edited by D. Davidson and G. Harman, Boston: Reidel. (Reprinted in 1980 as Naming and Necessity, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.)
  • Leibniz, Gottfried. (1714). Monadology, in Philosophical Essays, edited and translated by Roger Ariew and Daniel Garber, Indianapolis: Hackett, 1989.
  • Locke, John. (1689). An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Prometheus Books.
  • Palmquist, Stephen. (1987). "Knowledge and Experience - An Examination of the Four Reflective 'Perspectives' in Kant's Critical Philosophy", Kant-Studien 78:2, pp. 170–200; revised and reprinted as Chapter IV in Kant's System of PerspectivesAn architectonic interpretation of the Critical philosophy. University Press of America, 1993.
  • Plato. (380 B.C.). Meno, in Plato: Complete Works, Cooper, J. M. (ed.), Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997.

[edit]External links