Course TitleAdvanced English Reading • Course Book Advanced English Reading —— Modern Prose • Unit Thirteen Philosophers among the Carrots
Questions on the title Philosophers among the Carrots • What does the title mean ? • What is a philosopher ? What are carrots ? • In what way does a philosopher have anything to do with carrots? Keep the questions in your mind while reading and we will come back to them.
1. As I was cleaning the refrigerator the other day and thinking deep thoughts about Women's Lib, I asked myself if it was still permissible to take pleasure in the profession of housewife and not be a traitor to the cause. Am I really making use of my college education? What good did “Introduction to Philosophy, IA” do me, for instance? Then I recalled Socrates' saying that, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” and decided that maybe it was time to examine mine.
Comprehension Questions: • What reminds the author of Women’s Lib and Socrates? • Why does the author decide that it is time to examine her own life ?
2. As I stood eating apples, oranges and brown bananas and gazing into the depths of my refrigerator while considering college educations and housewives, I saw the manifestation of a great, metaphysical truth. “Like energy, matter simply descends in scale—from roast to stew to soup to cat food.” I muttered eruditely to the cat as I paused in my own eating long enough to pour a bit of soup into his bowl. “Where are the string beans of yesterday?” But of course, they are the vegetable soup of today. If I hadn't been to college, I wouldn't have seen that significant analogy, I thought smugly, depositing an orange pit in the sink as I finished the salad (or did I learn that in high school?).
Language Points • metaphysical truth philosophical truth • eruditely very knowledgeably, quite scholarly • analogy a comparison between two things that are similar in some way, often used to help explain something or make it easier to understand
3. Then, as I eyed a bowl of cooked carrots speculatively, sizing them up for carrot cake or marinated vegetable salad and opting for the cake which I knew would be seconded by my husband and three sons, I followed the train of my thoughts which was chugging off into philosophical realms led by Archimedes who said, “Any object placed in a fluid displaces its weight; an immersed object displaces its volume,” and with that principle to guide me I immersed the lumpy carrots in the milk called for in the recipe and found they made almost exactly the one cup called for. Muttering, along with Emerson, that “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…”I dumped in a couple of spoonfuls of applesauce to make it come out right.
Language Drills Make sentences with the following phrasal verbs: 1. opt for2. chug off3. call for 1. He opted for early retirement. 2. The train chugged off into distance. 3. Study calls for patience and diligence.
4. With the cake in the oven I went into the bathroom-laundry room carrying my new found illuminations about housewives and philosophy with me (Buddha had his Bo tree, I have my refrigerator) and there I faced the endless river of dirty tee shirts, sweat socks, pajamas and underwear, with a quote from Heraclitus. “You can't step twice in the same river,” I assured myself as I picked up a pair of jeans and emptied the pockets of bubble gum wrappers, pencils and pennies, and I saw about me the variety in unity and unity in variety spoken of by my aesthetics professor.
5. Then, having started the wash, and reflecting on the symbol of the lotus in Oriental philosophy which rises, pure and pristine from the mud and muck, I walked proud and untouched among the gym trunks and sweatshirts and out into the rest of the house to tidy it up. There I indulged in aggressive fantasies against my dear family as I picked up a necktie draped on a lamp, a pair of tennis shoes under the couch, a cache of peanut shells beneath a newspaper and, remembering William James' comment that “Even a pig has its philosophy,” I wondered angrily what theirs was.
6. After several days of such virtuous, domestic behavior scrubbing, ironing, cooking, and making yeast dough that blossoms and rises under my fingers like the miracle of life itself, I got up one morning and, with a wave of willfulness, remembered the philosophy of Rabelais' renegade abbe, “Do as you will.” In my present state of mind I found this the quintessence of good sense and I walked out of the house and into the car, leaving the breakfast dishes on the table. When my husband came home he said, “This place is a mess!”
Comprehension Questions: • When did the housewife leave home? Where did she go ? What did she do after she left home? What do wives usually do when they are angry with their husbands ? • When did the housewife return home ? Why did her husband complain ? If you were in the position of the housewife, how would you react to the husbands complaint ?
7. I smiled enigmatically as I continued to stir the chicken soup and quoted Alexander Pope, “All chaos is but order misunderstood,” then added with composure that I had purchased a new a dress.
8. “A new dress! You just bought one last week!” he shouted in an unseemly manner. But, without becoming the least bit ruffled, I replied, in the words of Pascal, “Ah, but the heart has its reasons the mind knows not of,” and I moved off into the kitchen to cut up some cheese and fruit and put the bread into the oven. Next I went into the bedroom, put on my new red dress, combed my hair and sprayed some “My Desire” cologne on it.
Comprehension Questions: • What did the housewife do after she quoted Pascal as a retort on her husband’s complaint ? Why do you think the housewife put on her new red dress and perfumed her hair despite the husband’s unseemly and loud complaint? • How did the housewife expect her husband to respond to her deliberate make-up? What do women usually expect from their husbands/boy friends under such circumstances?
9. My husband looked at me —— eyes growing wide as an approving smile spread over his face. But the bread, with its tantalizing aroma was competing with me his affections and the bread won for the time being. I sat there smiling content amid my four men who were happily and heartily eating and I reflected that the philosophy of Boethius for me, at this time, seemed right and that “Whatever is, is good.”
Assignments • Translate the text into Chinese and discuss with your classmates the strategies in translating the philosophical quotations (mottos) in the text. • Surf the Internet to search for some references on feminism and then write a composition either for feminist ideas or against them.
Sayings about Wife & Housewife • Wives are young men's mistresses, companions for middle age, and old men's nurses. Francis Bacon • The most dramatic thing is that, even when you look at women who are working full time outside the home—as full time as their men—when it comes to ironing and cleaning, 60 or 70 per cent of that work is still done by the women. Malcolm Wicks
To the old saying that man built the house but woman made of it a 'home' might be added the modern supplement that woman accepted cooking as a chore but man has made of it a recreation. Emily Post, 1872-1960, U.S. writer and columnist • O! men with sisters dear, O! men with mothers and wives! It is not linen you're wearing out, But human creatures' lives! Thomas Hood, 1799-1845, British poet and humorist
In the late 1960s women began to work for equal rights. They wanted to end discrimination against women at home and work. To accomplish this, women began taking part in marches, working for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and generally speaking out against inequality. The women in this photograph participated in the Women’s Strike for Equality held in August 1970 in New York City.
Socrates (苏格拉底, 469-399 BC),Greek philosopher, who profoundly affected Western philosophy through his influence on Plato. Born in Athens, the son of Sophroniscus, a sculptor, and Phaenarete, a midwife, he received the regular elementary education in literature, music, and gymnastics. Later he familiarized himself with the rhetoric and dialectics of the Sophists, the speculations of the Ionian philosophers, and the general culture of Periclean Athens. Socrates was reportedly unattractive in appearance and short of stature but was also extremely hardy and self-controlled. He enjoyed life immensely and achieved social popularity because of his ready wit and a keen sense of humor that was completely devoid of satire or cynicism.
To live an aware life, the individual must begin with an awareness of self. He must conduct a running examination and periodic reexaminations of the self —— in language, the medium of furthest reaches, deepest diving, most labyrinthine windings. The sorting through might well begin with the ordinary, everyday experiences of life. A diary or journal enables one to sift through and evaluate experiences, as well as to come to understand them and their significance —— or insignificance. Most of us do this sifting and evaluation in moments of reverie or in that state of mental vagabondage just before sleep. There is some (even great) advantage, however, in subjecting ourselves to the discipline of written language, in which the vague and the mushy and the muddled must give way to the specific, the firm, the clearly formulated. ----James E. Miller, Jr
Compare the Following Chinese • 曾子曰：“吾日三省吾身。为人谋，而不忠乎？与朋友交，而不信乎？传，不习乎？” ——《论语 . 学而》 • Master Zeng said, Every day I examine myself on three points: in acting on behalf of others, have I always been loyal to their interests? In dealings with my friends, have I always been true to my words? Have I lived up to the ethical precepts that have been handed down to me?
A housewife with a college education, the author is aware that she owes Women's Lib some loyalty for giving her the right to equal educational opportunities, and that she should not betray the cause, which demands that woman be no servant to man. She therefore feels a bit guilty for remaining a housewife. On the other hand, she cannot escape the situation as a housewife. In fact, she feels at the bottom of her heart she loves her present life. She is thus caught in the conflict between her uneasy conscience for not meeting the demands of Women's Lib and her enjoyment of the housewife "profession".
She expresses her dilemma precisely in the sentence: "I asked myself if it was still permissible to take pleasure in the profession of housewife and not be a traitor to the cause", in which the words "still permissible to take pleasure" show her strong sentiment for her present condition and her wish to take guilty-free pleasure in being a housewife. "To relieve her guilty feelings, and also to fulfill her education, she recalls Socrates’ saying and decides to apply her philosophical knowledge to the mundane concerns of a house-keeper, as if saying: "So let's see if I can use my college education in the kitchen."
Empirical observation in the 19th century led to the conclusion that although energy can be transformed, it cannot be created or destroyed. This concept, known as the conservation of energy, constitutes one of the basic principles of classical mechanics. The principle, along with the parallel principle of conservation of matter, holds true only for phenomena involving velocities that are small compared with the velocity of light. At higher velocities close to that of light, as in nuclear reactions, energy and matter are inter-convertible (see Relativity). In modern physics the two concepts, the conservation of energy and of mass, are thus unified. （能量守恒，物资不灭定律）
It is an alteration of the quotation from the poem by the French poet Francois Villon: “Where are the snows of yesterday?”“Where are …” is a motif used in many poems which lament the transitory nature of life (the fleeting of time) and beauty. In W. B. Henley’s Ballad of Dead Actors, for instance, we read: • Where are the passions they essayed, • And where the fears they made flow? • In the text, however, the author makes jocular use of the motif to convey in a straight way the following meaning: • What has happened to the string beans? • (Of course, they have become the vegetable soup of today.)
Archimedes • Archimedes made extensive contributions to theoretical mathematics. In addition, he is well known for applying science to everyday life. For instance, Archimedes discovered the principle of water displacement while taking a bath. He also developed simple machines such as the lever and screw into useful tools for war and irrigation.
An object is subject to an upward force when it is immersed in liquid. The force is equal to the weight of the liquid displaced. The apparent weight of a block of aluminium (1) immersed in water is reduced by an amount equal to the weight of water displaced. If a block of wood (2) is completely immersed in water, the upward force is greater than the weight of the wood. (Wood is less dense than water, so the weight of the block of wood is less than that of the same volume of water.) So the block rises and partly emerges to displace less water until the upward force exactly equals the weight of the block.
American intellectual and author Ralph Waldo Emerson helped lead the transcendentalism movement, a 19th-century school that looked to individual intuition, rather than scientific rationalism, as the highest source of knowledge. In “Self-Reliance” (1841), one of Emerson’s most important works, he expressed his optimistic faith in the power of individual achievement and originality. He also considered the overarching need to discover and develop a relationship with nature and with God.
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. A foolish consistency means an inflexible observance of a rule, a law, etc. A hobgoblin is an abominable thing or quality, a mischievous devil. Little minds refer to people without intelligence. So the quotation means: to observe a rule rigidly is an abominable quality of unintelligent people.
Buddha had his Bo tree This Buddha figure carved out of sandstone is from Mathura, a city in northern India that was at the center of Buddhist sculptural activity from the 2nd century bc to the 6th century ad. Buddha is shown seated on a lion throne with a large halo behind his head and attendants at his side.
Just as Buddha received heavenly inspiration to found Buddhism under the Bo tree, so I got new understanding about housewives and philosophy beside my refrigerator. The bo tree is an Indian fig tree also known as bohdi, pipal, or peepul. It is sacred to Buddhists because Buddha is said to have received enlightenment while sitting under a bo tree. The trees can grow to a height of about 30 m (about 100 ft).
Everything flows and nothing stays. The foundation of the world is at rest, the world itself is in motion. We both step and do not step into the same rivers; we both are and are not. 年年岁岁花相似， 岁岁年年人不同。 唐•刘希夷《代白头翁》 Even if the clothes I wash every day appear to be the same,what I wash today is certainly quite different from what I washed yesterday, because every time I wash them they will surely have different stains, tears, smells and what’s not —— different features that bring to me different fantasies and pleasures. You can't step twice into the same river.
This is an aesthetic principle, which means to see uniformity in difference and see difference in uniformity. Think of it in terms of the Marxist philosophical principle we are familiar with: 矛盾的普遍性与矛盾的特殊性
Literal interpretation Works of art have long been regarded by aestheticians as a combination of unity with variety. When diverse and various parts are combined onto a whole, the unity of the parts in the whole is immediately perceived, for man has natural inclinations to seek harmony from chaos, and unity from variety. At the same time, however, the human mind constantly needs to seek variety as relief from the dullness and monotony of oneness. Thus, “variety in unity” and “unity in variety” become inseparable from, and complementary to, each other.
Contextual Interpretation Applied to the author’s case, “unity” means that all the clothes she has to wash are dirty clothes, and “variety” means that every piece to be washed is different from each other. More importantly, “unity” means that all the clothes she washes have one unified quality: they are all worn by her dear family members she is always ready to serve and each piece is something special to her (variety) because each of her four men appeals to her in particularly different ways.
Further Implications • The author, possibly believing in the old saying “Variety is the spice of life,” takes this quotation to cheer herself up from the monotony of doing the laundry day in and day out. • Also, it is very clear that the author takes much pleasure in doing the seemingly tedious laundry because every time she washes the various dirty clothes, they would appeal to her with a fresh new feature and even “a tantalizing aroma” which is unique and special and precious to her. • So we may draw from her example here a somewhat philosophical conclusion that happiness has much to do with how one feels rather than what one does or possesses.
Think of this in terms of the following Chinese sayings: • 有钱难买乐意。 • 走自己的路，让别人说去吧。 • 辛酸苦辣，乐在其中。 • 萝卜白菜，各有所爱。 • 天生我才必有用。
爱 莲 说 水陆草木之花，可爱者甚蕃。晋陶渊明独爱菊；自李唐来，世人盛爱牡丹；予独爱莲之出淤泥而不染，濯清涟而不妖，中通外直，不蔓不枝，香远益清，亭亭静植，可远观而不可亵玩焉。予谓菊，花之隐逸者也；牡丹，花之富贵者也；莲，花之君子者也。噫！菊之爱，陶后鲜有闻；莲之爱，同予者何人；牡丹之爱，宜乎众矣。 ( 周敦颐 1017－1073 )
Contextual Implications While washing the dirty clothes, the college-educated housewife was consoled and even proud of herself through mere imagination of herself as the lotus flower in Oriental philosophy, which rises, pure and pristine from the mud and muck.
William James American psychologist and philosopher, William James helped to popularize the philosophy of pragmatism with his book Pragmatism: A New Name for Old Ways of Thinking (1907). Influenced by a theory of meaning and verification developed for scientific hypotheses by American philosopher C. S. Peirce, James held that truth is what works, or has good experimental results. In a related theory, James argued the existence of God is partly verifiable because many people derive benefits from believing.
Francois Rabelais (1494~1553) French writer and priest who for his contemporaries was an eminent physician and humanist and for posterity is the author of the comic masterpiece Gargantua and Pantagruel. The four novels composing this work are outstanding for their rich use of Renaissance French and for their comedy, which ranges from gross burlesque to profound satire. They exploit popular legends, farces, and romances, as well as classical and Italian material, but were written primarily for a court public and a learned one.
Alexander Pope (1688-1744) English poet, who, modeling himself after the great poets of classical antiquity, wrote highly polished verse, often in a didactic or satirical vein. In verse translations, moral and critical essays, and satires that made him the foremost poet of his age, he brought the heroic couplet, which had been refined by John Dryden, to ultimate perfection. He first earned fame with the work An Essay on Criticism (1711), in which he wrote the now famous line, “To err is human, to forgive divine.”
Please read the following Chinese： 同 不 各 低 高 近 远 中 山 此 在 身 缘 只 目 面 真 山 庐 识 不 峰 成 侧 岭 成 看 横
All chaos is but order misunderstood. Literally, the saying means: All chaos is in fact not chaos, but is order which has been mistaken for chaos.In this context, the author means to say: “My house is always very clean and tidy and you just take for granted a housewife’s hardship. Even today, without much cleaning, our house is still clean and tidy with everything in its place. You simply don’t know ‘Housework is never done.’”