Theory of Knowledge
4 February 2015
“Arts and Letters Daily” and “The New York Times”
A.) “Arts and Letters Daily”
A1.) “A Meditation on the Art of Not Trying”
Summary: This article is about effortlessness. According to Edward Slingerland, this art is the paradox of wu wei, which is the Chinese term “effortless action.” The article explains how many philosophers believe that the best way to carry out a task is without trying. The art of wu wei can be interpreted in many ways. Confucians believe that it is when one has learned proper behavior so thoroughly that he would behave virtuously and gracefully without any effort. Meanwhile the Taoists believe it is to “go with the flow.” Wu wei creates a charismatic effect on a person, whether one is addressing a crowd or talking to a person. The way to impress someone is trying not to seem desperate to impress. The article then elaborates on how people like salesmen and politicians can fake effortlessness pretty well. This is people watch presidential campaigns waiting for the one spontaneous moment that reveals their true character. Appearing to be effortless is a good thing. We wei is the paradoxical art of trying not to try. The purpose of the author is to show that effortlessness is the way to go. The author begins the article with the statement “just be yourself” and then follows with several questions. One literary technique the author uses is description, as he describes what the art of wu wei is. He also describes the different points of views of Confucians and Taoists. By going back to history and Chinese traditions, the author uses the literary technique of analysis. The author explains how the art of wu wei is paradoxical, because in order not try you must try. This opens up an argument to readers asking them if it is good to not try.
A2.) “Cross-Cultural Atheism and Social Capital”
Summary: This article asks if different forms of atheism should come together for the social capital. The article first mentions Peter Berger's “The Many Altars of Modernity” which ties into the subject of the article. The question of how different forms of disbelief differ from the atheism we know in the west. It then explains how any form of rejecting belief takes it shape through what it is rejecting. People will eventually end ties and start new ones when interest is loss. This leads to the question why some part from the traditions and the communities. One can reject a religion not just because of the belief itself; they can reject it because of long rites and laws of the community. These religions are both test and terms of association. A common belief can strengthen a group. The purpose of the author is to convince people that religious beliefs and nonbeliefs should come together for the greater social capital. He claims that people all want to feel belonging and this is the reason for the rise of certain beliefs. The author uses the literary device of argument. Throughout the article, the author makes opinions about religion and society and adds examples to support his claims. In this way, the author forms an argument that is open for anyone to respond to. Also, considering the fact that the author states that the article is a response to another author, this makes it an argument.
A3.) “Encyclopedia Frown”
Summary: Wikipedia may appear like a wonderful site to get any type of information; however, beneath it all the site can be ugly. Wikipedia is said to be sexist website as the article talks about the Arbitration Committee meeting where they dismissed a feminist member of the court. Wikipedia faces challenges to improve the content quality and the editors. A big problem with Wikipedia is the gender gap, with its mostly male users. The author explains that editing page can be impossible because of “The Unblockables” who can get away with editing whatever they want onto a page. The article claims that the people who work at Wikipedia are crazy and run