To Reason or Not to Reason

By Patrick, Lauren, and Alissa

Jonathan Swift

Part 1

2. The Poor of Ireland: Problems of the Emerald Isle

Mmmm!! Baby food!

Jonathan Swift identifies the lifestyle of people of the lesser class to be greatly inferior to those of the higher classes from the beginning of his proposal to its conclusion. He opens the proposal with the identifying the irresponsibility that the lower class possesses for not properly taking care of their children. For he states "The mothers instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their hopeless infants, who, as they grow up, either turn to thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country" (p.114 paragraph 1).

another type of baby food...OM-NOM-NOM!!!
Starting in paragraph four swift identifies is barbaric economic policy to the reader and reveals that it will boost Ireland's economy and reduce population growth simultaneously. Swift proposes, in a sarcastic light that Ireland's economy would highly benefit from the consummation of yearling children, for it would not only reduce "the horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children", but would release the burden put upon the parents of the child to provide the child with food and and a home beyond 1 year and reduce the soaring population growth of the country of Ireland.

Swift calculates in a sarcastic light how many babies per year would be produced by "breeders" of the country and refers to them as if they were animals producing a product much like how a cow produces milk, and at the conclusion of the proposal he reveals his final sarcastic opinion. He restates for a final time that his economic solution is an "innocent, cheap, easy, and effectual" (last paragraph of p. 1119) way to solve the present economic burden that haunts Ireland.

Part 2

A Modest Proposal:

A solution to the rising problem of crime must be found quickly and instituted even more rapidly in order to restore order to the streets of the United States of America. As gangs and weapons fill the streets, crimes such as armed robbery, murder, and sale of illegal drugs become more common and more dangerous. The worst part of crime is that no one is safe. In almost every city, crime is a daily occurrence that happens in front of the citizens. Crime causes massive damage to the city itself, not to mention the innocent residents slain by accident or deliberately. American culture has done nothing to improve the situation either. Television and video games fill people's minds with depictions of crime. Many video games are even directly focused on participating in acts of crime or violence. These readily available sources of "entertainment" function as virtual schools on how to commit crimes. The capitalistic nature of America provides more incentive and a mindset for crime. Capitalism in America can be interpreted as the philosophy of personal gain no matter the cost which helps explain the motive of criminals, as the usual goal of criminal acts is to acquire wealth or possessions for the criminal. Ironically, American society is creating future generations of criminals who will contribute to the destruction of the very society and inhabitants that created them. If decisive action is not taken soon, this destructive course of events could lead to the downfall of America.

The fate of all minor criminals
One possible solution to this dire situation is to increase the severity of the punishments given to convicted criminals. In fact, trials, judges, lawyers, and all other aspects of the legal system related to criminal activities should be revised and a new system should be developed. This new system would find the criminal guilty on the most circumstantial of evidence. The punishments for crimes would also become more deterring to other criminals. All minor crimes, such as petty theft or j-walking, would warrant the merciful consequence of life imprisonment in new, inescapable, underwater prisons. Any and all other crimes would result in capital punishment for the felon. Although this system would likely deprive America of large portions of the population, as they would be dead or in prison, those law abiding citizens left would live in a semi-utopian setting without the threat of crime. This reduction of population would also have harsh effects on the economy for several reasons. The most obvious reason would be that production of American materials and consumer goods would be reduced. A second, less obvious, reason would be that less money would be invested in replacement products for goods stolen. However the criminal population would be significantly reduced and the possibility of future felons would be reduced by the presence of such fair and just punishments as described above.

The new Suburban Tactical Missile Launcher. Comes in Red, Grey, and Black!
Another possible answer to the problem would be to arm every man, woman, and child in America with the latest weaponry. In addition to requiring all citizens and otherwise to carry firearms, new government-sponsored gun shops selling the cutting edge in killing technology and ammunition for these weapons would open on every street corner in every city in America. Of course gun laws and permits would be abolished. From an early age, the government would train all children how to use a gun and the best strategies and tactics in firefights. The government would also begin to sell heavy, stationary anti-aircraft and machine guns, artillery, and other automated systems. Instruction of operations and installation in home and cars would be provided for free by military experts. Cars and trucks would become virtual battle tanks and vehicles. The sale of these weapons would provide an enormous income for the government, allowing for the reduction of taxes. With military training and military grade weapons, average citizens would become a reserve force of militia for defense of America or be ready to be deployed in other countries. This could create an unstoppable military culture with which America could threaten the rest of the world into submission to American demands. With a gun in all the trained hands, criminals wouldn't dare rob a bank full of people, the equivalent to an armory filled with marines, or assault a single person or home, the equivalent of a single marine and a military base respectively. Naturally, accidents and violence would become commonplace. Careless citizens will leave the safety off on their weapons and accidental deaths would occur from misfire and other problems with the weapon. Violence would both be increased and deterred, as people might release their frustrations on others with guns and defend themselves with their guns. Any felon not deterred by the threat of the intended victims could simply be shot, thus ending the crime problem.

The police of the future
If the American populace would allow, police forces should be augmented with new equipment and new surveillance cameras should be installed to watch every street, store, bar, and club. Some might view the installation of additional surveillance equipment as an encroachment upon Americans' desire for privacy, although those who have nothing to fear should not mind being watched and this equipment would greatly enhance the performance of police. The rearmament and further training of police forces, however, should not be displeasing to any law abiding American citizens, and thus would be beneficial. Officers well versed in the use of stun and other weapons, tactics of riot control and other operations, and aided by new protective armor and the latest devices and vehicles would provide a much more effective means of protecting the populace. If said populace would consent to public surveillance equipment, the new police force would become even more effective, as police would be able to see situations developing and react faster.

Alexander Pope

2. The Satirical Epic

In The Rape of the Lock, Alexander Pope utilized epic conventions to put emphasis on his satire. In writing that is more medieval, such as Beowulf, epic conventions are used to describe fantastic tales of a powerful heroes venturing on quests and slaying monsters and beasts. In short, they paint pictures for the reader of fantasy worlds and great adventures. However, Alexander Pope sees the world as it is. He notices the ups and downs of every day life, the things that cause people joy and grief. In comparison to those medieval tales of grandeur, the reality of life seems very minuscule and unimportant. Pope pokes fun at the relative monotony of life through his satirical use of epic conventions.

Many of the epic conventions have to do with war. In Pope’s case, the war is a drawing room war, fueled by tension between the sexes. Some of the fighting occurs on the battleground, namely a card table. Belinda beautifying and readying herself seems to be a reflection of soldiers preparing their weapons and such for battle. The feasting heroes and heroines, the beaux and belles, of these wars enjoy their cups of coffee and exchange the latest gossip.

Epic journeys and supernatural events take place in The Rape of the Lock as well. Writers during the Middle Ages would often include invocations of muses. In Greek mythology, the nine “muses” helped to inspire and encourage growing thinkers and artists. Pope’s muse was actually his own friend, whom he called on to help with the creation of his novel. Themes regarding the underworld tend to appear as well, such as when the gnome Umbriel takes a visit to the underworld. Some ominous black omens, promising to ruin a lady’s dress or masquerade, worry the characters as well.

Pope divides The Rape of the Lock into Cantos. Normally, in an epic novel, there would be at least dozens of Cantos. Pope only has five in his (originally, he actually only had two). In this way, he emphasizes the smallness and pettiness of the actions of his characters. Pope’s juxtaposition of epic conventions and commonplace situations in The Rape of the Lock serve to illustrate the lack of grandeur in real life in a very satirical and ironic way.

High School Dictionary

A short introduction for those non-teenagers out there...

1. Dude (n) - an informal way of addressing a person of the male gender. Surfers made this way of adressing people popular in California.
Evander Berry Wall, King of the Dudes
This meaning could have developed out of the older form of the word used to describe a well dressed man who lived only in a city. Thus this man would have money, because he could afford to be well dressed. This possession of money would have made him cool by modern standards.
Sample: "Dude, you are crazy, but count me in."

2. "OMG" - an abbreviation meaning "oh my God" and it is a phrase used to describe suprise it is used in informal conversation and also especially on instant messaging and through text messages.
Sample: "OMG!! I can't believe you said that!"

3. "LOL" - "chatspeak" for laughing out loud. This word mostly likely came to be due to the high frequencies of words exchanged in chatrooms and instant messaging activities. Due to these high frequencies, users began to use shortened phrases to express sentences and emotions at such high speeds.
Sample: "LOL, that last joke was so funny!"

4. Mad (adj) - stressing intensity of the quality expressed afterwards or expressing the numerousness of a following noun. This word may have developed from the fact that something was so whatever quality that it was maddening.
Sample: "That concert was mad cool. You should have been there."

5. Chatspeak (n) - any language or group of letters/words used for rapid communication, like in a chatroom or while instant messaging. Various forms of chatspeak have developed for various reasons, the most obvious being rapid communication. Some entire languages of chatspeak have been developed as a method of private and/or alienating conversation, thus preventing others from reading a conversation.
Sample: "I've got to look up that phrase, chatspeak still confuses me."

6. Chillax (v) - to relax, to calm down, to behave. This word developed from a combination of the words chill and relax. Chill derives from cool since chilling often involves a cool activity, chill is similar to chillax in meaning.
Sample: "So are we going to chillax at your place this weekend?"

7. Beast (v, n, adj) - to beast something is to do that something well. Also, something that was very cool. As an adjective, "beastly" means that something is very cool. This word most likely originates from the fact that beasts in nature can have power and grace and thus do their activities in a way that looks cool.
A shiny grill.

Sample: "You totally beasted that video game man!"

8. Grill (n) - teeth. Probably originating from the fact that teeth can look like a grill.
Sample: "Hey, you've got a piece of something stuck in your grill."

9. Moves (n) - a person's individual style at some activity. Probably originates from the fact that a good dancer, such as a street performer, has awsome moves.
Sample: "My moves are so sick, no one can touch me in the talent show."

10. School (v) - to defeat or be defeated. Probably originates from the fact that one needs schooling if one does poorly in class.
Sample: "You can't touch my moves dude, It doesn't matter how much you practice, I school you every time."

Wiktionary and Wikipedia were used to define some of the above words

Addison and Steele

"On the English Language. No. 135"

Addison explains his attraction to the English language in this article. He describes his language as well suited for men because the language does not use many superfluous words. Addison reflects on how English conversations often involve pauses and gaps of silence as well as single syllables, thus conveying information more quickly than other languages that use longer words. He goes on with the comparison by describing English as similar to a string instrument and said foreign languages to wind instruments. This helps Addison discuss the forms of melody English and the other languages have. He reveals that real English does not have many single syllable words and that the speakers of English make these single syllable words through differing pronunciation and a desire to communicate quickly. Addison discusses how the English language has been changed in his time. This discussion focuses on words that end in –ed, as users of the language began saying such words in one less syllable by changing the end to –‘d. He also writes on the change from the use of –eth to –s. Addison also discusses the use of contractions. He uses all these changes as proof of his claim that English speakers enjoy brevity. This argument is strengthened by his examination on people who specialize in shortening words and nicknames. Addison suggests that an academy for the English language be initiated in order to standardize English. Addison’s final thoughts reflect on how the language of a culture helps define the culture. He finishes by comparing several foreign languages and their traits with their respective speakers.

Addison’s article exemplifies the Age of Reason for several reasons. Like Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal, Addison suggests a solution to a problem. The problem being the lack of conformity in the English language and the solution is to found an academy to study English. Addison uses reason and logic in an attempt to analyze cultures through language, predominantly English though. Addison almost criticizes English speakers by emphasizing how English speakers seek out shorter words no matter the cost, even disregarding customs of other languages.

Addison’s primary point, the fact that English speakers enjoy short speech, applies today as well. Entire languages are created for the sole purpose of communicating in as few letters as possible. Many conversations do not even require speech. Conversational speed has been limited only to how fast the participants can type on their cell phones or keyboards. Abbreviations are commonly used to shorten sentences and these phrases carry even into speech. Thus English speakers are constantly looking for ways in which they can speed their conversations even today.

"On Apparitions. No. 110"

In this article, Addison voices his opinions regarding a house belonging to "Sir Roger", which is believed by the general consensus to be haunted. A few witnesses attested to the existence of apparitions in that location, telling accounts of ghostly sights and sounds. The author took a walk through the area
himself, late at night. He noticed that the decrepit nature of the former church-yard could easily cause the mind to resort to superstitious beliefs. He blamed the traditional system of education for infusing the ridiculous concept of spirits and goblins into young children. He concludes by denouncing these false superstitions, for they had caused unnecessary grief to the public and unneeded hassle to Sir Roger.

The Age of Reason praised the power of logic and disapproved the belief in spirits and other mystical beings. Addison exemplified the use of intellect by attributing the perceived belief in ghosts to specific features on the property that could be mistaken for spirits. For example, he noticed that a cow peacefully grazing in a field could have caused the terrified footman to imagine a haunting, headless black horse. Mysticism and superstition represented a medieval extreme, while reason and rationality represented an opposing extreme, with a more modern view to counteract the old. Addison thoroughly denounced belief in ghosts, reiterating the impediments upon normal life it causes, and advocated the use of clear thinking to purge the mind of unnecessary superstition.

Debate over the extent of use of rationale can be found in current-day situations. Before this subject continues, no readers should take offense at anything written. This topic is presented with purely objective intentions in mind.

With that being said... Religion has always played a dominating role in societies around the world. Belief in higher power inspires every day activity. This belief is based on scriptures, for example, the Holy Bible of Christianity. However, some aspects of religion seem to clash with the logic and reasoning of science, notably the controversy of evolution. Darwin's proposed theory of natural selection, derived from a logical thought process, contradicts the traditional beliefs of certain religious groups. For a while, religion battled against science regarding this issue. And just as how rational thinking prevailed in "On Apparitions," the theory of evolution seems to have won over (at least in the US education systems, according to the Supreme Court). To this day, personal belief and logical reasoning often clash in cases similar to this.

Works cited:

Info on Rape of the Lock: