Carter Induction Speech: Reading Questions
Intro: Nature of the College, through ‘Hebrew Theodicy’ and back (pp. 1-15) [link to pdf]
* On page (6), Carter begins a discussion of individual liberty, which will place the notion of liberty and freedom in society, parallel to the liberties to be given students in choosing their studies, and the nature of the College curriculum itself. What is that argument like? Does it make sense?
Carter also states: ‘such a liberty may fall in with the spirit of the age which exhalts the individual and loosens the bonds of social organization’ (6). What is the argument of this sentence? What sort of world and issues, is it commenting on– or trying to change?
* Later Carter states: ‘we should need… thirty years of experience… [and] of careful observation of the subsequent careers of the graduates’ to be able to adjust the curriculum and courses of instruction to current students’ particular needs (6). Is this an argument for, or against, such adjustments?
* By the top of page (8), Carter has gone though an encomium of sorts to the study of Latin and Greek thought, which culminates in the claim that the principles of these peoples ‘which we see embodied in art’ ‘has “controlled civilized thought for three millennia.’ What are we, today, to make of this claim?
(Ditto for the rest of his paragraph.)
* By the end of this page (8), in a rather odd formulation, Carter “pauses,” then calls for… what is it, that Carter calls for?
++What is the function, or purpose, of this odd discursive gesture? Is the “Hebrew theocracy” which Carter speaks of in the transitional paragraph, the same think he was referring to in the previous paragraph, or has a little shuffling of the card or ‘slippage’ occurred?
More Questions if you click:
* The first sentence of the following paragraph is:
“The first reason for the study of the Hebrew theocracy in the college course is found, as I have already intimated, in the supreme worth to the race of moral ideas, and the for this reason immense interest that attaches to that nation which, during an age of comparative groping after moral truch among otherwise extremely enlightened peoples, received and transmitted, from generation to generation, a morality that in its outlines presents still the canons for all mankind.”
1) What is Carter talking about, in this sentence?
2) Consider ‘the supreme worth to the race of moral ideas.’ What are the potential meanings of this? What is the grammatical structure?
3) [fill in your own question!]
* Generally, we in contemporary times would reject many of Carter’s statements, such as ‘the heathen mythologies of refined peoples,’ as rather absurd. Is such a position valid? sound? true? What are your criteria for such a judgment?
* By the end of the first paragraph which extends onto page (9), Carter is making a very interesting argument. What is it? What might be a few reasons, for his forwarding of such an argument. And why is this odd?
* Carter ‘Reason’ II presents a historical narrative. What is that narrative? Is it to be taken ‘literally?’ Is there a contradiction between the assertion of swift moral principle, and a reality which murders woman under the claim of witchcraft?
* Reason IV presents a sort of racial, physical characterization of ‘the Jew’ which may be immediately repulsive to the contemporary reader (“facial curves”). (A perusal of the faces of contemporary Jerusalem, questions such ‘phrenology’). What might be some of Carter’s unstated reasons, for forwarding such characterizations?
* From Reason V: ‘then what is better wherewith to controvert a false philosophy than the records of a people who… as a unique race, though sometimes… stoning their prophets, do yet on the the whole, make good …”
What does ‘a false philosophy’ refer to here?
* In pp. 14-16ff, approx., Carter attempts to define the purpose of study at the great universities of the world. What is this definition?
* In the same pages, Carter also defines the American College in a sort of contrast– a contrast that plays highly throughout his claims of what education at the Colleges should consist of. What is this definition? What does it imply?
* In all the Reasons, Carter makes a repeated argument, often couched in other terms, that might be summarized in his phrase ‘the great influence which the ideas of this theocracy have exerted in the reformatory crises in the history of the race.’
Is this a fair characterization?
What ‘race’ is Carter talking about here, and does it support or contradict other articulations of ‘race’ in Carter’s text? What are these notions of ‘race?’
* What is a ‘theocracy,’ in Carter’s text?