Unit 6 Dull Work Eric Hoffer. 2014/9/15. 1. Albert Einstein (1879-1955).
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Unit 6Dull WorkEric Hoffer
German-born American physicist and Nobel laureate, best known as the creator of the special and general theories of relativity and for his bold hypothesis concerning the particle nature of light. He is perhaps the most well-known scientist of the 20th century.
Kant, Immanuel (1724-1804), German philosopher, considered by many the most influential thinker of modern times. As the eighteenth-century German philosopher, Immanuel Kant explored the possibilities of what reason can tell about the world of experience. In his critiques of science, morality, and art, Kant attempted to derive universal rules to which, he claimed, every rational person should subscribe.
In Critique of Pure Reason (1781), Kant argued that people cannot understand the nature of the things in the universe, but they can be rationally certain of what they experience themselves. Within this realm of experience, fundamental notions such as space and time are certain.
Kant’s attempt to define precisely the domain of rational understanding is a landmark in western thought. On the one hand, he opposed Hume’s scepticism, the idea that pure reason is of no real use in understanding the world, on the other hand, he challenged Enlightenment faith in the unlimited scope of reason.
The basic formulation of what is called his critical philosophy is contained the Critique of Pure Reason(1781), the Critique of Practical Reason(1788), the Critique of Judgement(1790). The quiet regularity of Kant’s everyday life in Konisberg, where he was a university professor (1770-1804),became proverbial. The residents of the town even set their watches by Kant’s daily walk.
John Keats ( 31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821) was an Englishpoet who became one of the principal poets of the English Romantic movement during the early nineteenth century. During his very short life, his work received constant critical attacks from periodicals of the day, but his posthumous influence on poets such as Alfred Tennyson has been immense. Elaborate word choice and sensual imagery characterize Keats's poetry, including a series of odes that were his masterpieces and which remain among the most popular poems in English literature. Keats's letters, which expound on his aesthetic theory of “negative capability” are among the most celebrated by any writer.
(educated in Cambridge university)
English poet, whose rich, dense verse was a powerful influence on succeeding English poets, and whose prose was devoted to the defence of civil and religious liberty.
English Poet and prose writer, one of the best known and most respected figures in English literature, supported the Puritan cause in various tracts and pamphlets. In 1649, after King Charles I was executed, he became Latin (foreign) secretary to Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth(联邦国，民主国） of England, Scotland, and Ireland(1653-58). In that office he handled correspondence with foreign nations and was apologist for the Commonwealth to the world at large.
After the Restoration of King Charles II to the throne in 1660, Milton was arrested and fined but escaped imprisonment or death. Aged, blind, his public career over, his hopes for a godly and republican England dashed, he began to compose a great national epic. In 1667, he published his masterpiece, Paradise Lost.
How does the author begin his essay?
With a general belief that brilliant people need a varied and exciting life to do their best, and dull people are suited for dull work.
What’the point illustrated in paragraph 2?
People who achieve a lot do not necessarily live eventful or exciting life (by citing examples).
Which sentence captures the point of paragraph 3?
The first one. What is essential for creative work is a man’s ability to make the trivial reach an enormous way, or to transmute trivial impulses into very important results.
What’s the purpose of Paragraph 4? Do you agree with the author here?
To illustrate the point, citing examples of Milton, Cellini and Machiavelli, that an eventful life does more harm than good to a creative man.(The first sentence serves as the topic sentence.)
Why did Hoffer enjoy his experience of doing dull, repetitive work for fifty years? What’s the purpose of citing his own experience?
He could do thinking and composing while he was doing his dull work.That is, he himself benefited from his dull work experience.
What makes Hoffer put children and mature people into one category in paragraph 6?
Who are the really dull people, according to Hoffer? And why?
Both groups find dull work endurable though the reasons are different.
The adolescents are the really dull people. They lack the inner resources of the mature to turn the dullness of work to good avail,or to benefit from dull work, and the curiosity of the immature children to be interested.
The body of the essay consists of Paras 2-5, in which Hoffer cites numerous truly brilliant people and their reputed creations, and then his own experience.
What is the purpose of each of these paragraphs? Is the arrangement valid?
The arrangement is logical and sound. Well reputed men are cited before his own experience. The possible harmful effect of an eventful life is illustrated only after he has made it clear that an eventful life is not a must for creative achievement.
To convince the general public that it is not the varied, exciting and eventful life that makes a great creative mind, but the ability to capture inspirations on various occasions.
Generally a three-step pattern:
introduction — development – conclusion
opening remark(the objective and major concern to be focused on);
present the problem in question or take a definite stand, and support his thesis with evidence including facts, examples, illustrations, etc., look at different aspects of the problem, or refute his opponent’s views;
End the essay by reinforcing his own claim
There seems to be a general assumption that … -- It seems that there is a general belief that … (though there is no real proof of it)
assumption – something that is believed to be true without proof. Example:
It is also assumed that … -- It is also believed that …
assume – take something as true. Examples:
(1) We assumed that he would keep his promise.
(2) It is generally assumed that good acts will be duly rewarded.
brilliant people cannot stand routine – extremely bright people cannot endure/bear fixed ways of doing things
stand – bear, endure, tolerate. Examples:
(1) Can you stand his long-winded talk on how to win friends and influence people?
(2) I believe our new child-care program will stand the test of time (will be good for quite some time).
routine – a fixed way of doing things; the boring repetition of a set of jobs that must be done. Examples:
(1) Unlike many of her friends, she enjoyed her routine of housework.
varied – of many different types, sizes, or qualities; characterized by variety.
(1) She had an admirably varied career (i.e., she did different kinds of jobs).
(2) Varied motives (motives of different kinds) lead to different results.
cf. various – different kinds of the same general thing. Example:
(1) She had various kinds of jobs in her lifetime.
Sometimes varied and various can be used interchangeably. Example:
(1) Opinions were many and various/varied at the discussion.
there is no evidence that people who achieve much crave for, let alone live, eventful lives – there isn't any proof that successful people strongly desire, still less likely live, a life full of important events or an exciting and thrilling life.
evidence – a fact or some information that gives proof or reasons to believe something. Example:
(1) He was suspected to have cheated in the exam, but there was no evidence to that effect.
crave for – desire strongly. Example:
(1) She craved for neither wealth nor fame; she only wanted to live a decent life.
revelation – (in this context) something that is revealed by God to man; the divine or supernatural disclosure to human beings of something related to human existence or the world
The general meaning of revelation is "making known something which is true but unknown before". Examples:
(1) The revelation that John instead of Tom was the chief designer surprised us all.
(2) Shocking revelations appeared in the papers about the private life of the royal family.
humdrum – If you describe someone or something as humdrum, you mean that they are ordinary, dull or boring. Examples:
(1) Some people enjoy doing housework; others consider housework humdrum drudgery.
(2) … her lawyer husband, trapped in a humdrum but well-paid job.
the ability to transmute trivial impulses into momentous consequences – the ability to change trifling wishes into significant results
transmute – (formal) change from one form, nature, substance, etc. into another, especially of a better kind. Example:
(1) Some people in mediaeval times believed that lead could be transmuted into gold.
(2) Scientists transmuted matter into pure energy and exploded the first atomic bomb.
trivial – trifling, of little importance. Example:
(1) There is no need to argue over trivial matters.
impulse – a sudden strong desire to do something. Example:
(1) Think things over carefully. Don't act on impulse.
momentous – (of a decision, event, etc.) of very great importance or significance. Example:
(1) China's joining the WTO is a momentous event.
consequence – a result or an effect of an action. Example:
(1) Think of all possible consequences that might follow before you take action.
Chances are that … -- It is likely that … Example:
(1) If you take everything lightly, chances are that you'll never be able to accomplish anything.
thrive : If someone or something thrives, they do well and are successful, healthy or strong. Examples:
(1) Today his company continues to thrive.
(2) Lavender thrives in poor soil.
If you say that someone thrives on a particular situation, you mean that they enjoy it or that they can deal with it very well, especially when other people find it unpleasant or difficult. Examples:
(1) Many people thrive on a stressful lifestyle.
(2) Creative people are usually very determined and thrive on overcoming obstacle.
stave off – keep away (especially for a short time). Example:
(1) If you set your mind on working out this problem, you will be able to stave off any difficulties.
1. Do you agree with Hoffer's argument that "an eventful life exhausts rather than stimulates one's creativity"? If not, what is your point of view?
2. What, according to Hoffer, makes a truly creative man?
3. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy " is generally accepted as true by many people. How do you feel about this assumption?
4. Do you think you can achieve much if you live a plain, ordinary life?
The end of Unit 6!