27 May 2012

Essay Topic: Things People Say by Neil Degrasse Tyson

For Tyson, “people undervalue the role of evidence in formulation an internal belief system” and that they “hold fast to ideas and notions based purely on supposition.” Although the author cannot find any reason for this, the fact remains that people simply describe what is “simply true no matter what.” Nevertheless, the point is that whatever we have to say, it must be accounted for by concrete evidence resulting from accurate observation, just like what Aristotle had done when he observed certain elements of space.

Most of the false things that people say are actually influenced by several factors. One of these is a false way of proving things, such as the one used by Aristotle when he concluded that heavy things fall faster than light ones. This is wrong since gravitational force is constant but the difference in the time it takes for things to fall to the ground first is affected by air resistance.

Another thing that influences the things that people say, especially the false ones, is religion. The author gives an example of the belief of the Catholic Church which states that “stars don’t change.” Thus, there is no record of a supernova in Catholic Europe in 1054.

The rest of the false beliefs fall into the category of popular knowledge, which is usually considered as “immune from falsehoods that were easily testable.” According to popular knowledge, the North Star is the brightest but actually the Big Dipper is brighter. The Sun is called a yellow star but actually it is white. Whatever goes up does not necessarily come down again if it has escaped the gravitational pull of the Earth. Many people believe there is no gravity in space but actually the pull of gravity of every heavenly body extends to the space, but “with ever-diminishing strength.” The Earth’s magnetic north pole is actually in the south, and there is actually more frequent solar eclipses than it is possible. Moreover, the equinox is not exactly 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night as what most people believe, because refraction of sunlight would make the sun appear above the horizon even minutes before it actually rises.

Addicted to Health by Robert H. Bork

The government’s irrational policy of controlling tobacco companies is actually caused by “moral self-righteousness, greed for money, and political ambition.”

Such irrational policies of the government extend to forcing smokers to pay huge taxes.

What are the inconsistencies of the government when it comes to these policies? First, the non-smokers simply made the smokers feel guilty and the government is using this particular difference in opinion to their own selfish advantage. Second, there is no guarantee that peace will prevail if the last cigarette smoker stops smoking. Third, automobiles would even kill more people than alcohol but cars are not banned. Fourth, the government is claiming that their strict measures are of benefit to teenagers and children when in fact their rules affect adults more. Fifth, the government bans the advertising but they allow the selling of cigarettes.

Sixth, the government does not restrict the selling of tobacco abroad. Seventh, the state does not actually lose money from cigarettes because smokers die early and thus some of them would not be able to avail of their Medicare and Medicaid and the Social Security pension, thus the government can save so much from them. Eighth, tobacco companies should pay $308 billion for 25 years but these companies in fact win the litigation cases filed against them. Ninth, advertising is banned but people smoke not because of advertisements but because of peer pressure. Tenth, the plaintiffs of these cigarette companies are guaranteed billions of dollars in compensation each year. Without the cigarette companies, the plaintiffs would not be able to earn as much and they would not be able to achieve their goals as the National Association of Aspiring Governors. Eleventh and lastly, the lawmakers proclaim the law against smoking as full of “sobriety, courage, and righteousness” as they show the citizens that they have defeated the evil cigarette companies, when in fact they also have evil motives for their acts.

The author’s point is that if individual responsibility is denied, we allow the government to control our behavior freely.

Writing MLA Papers

If one is to write MLA papers, or papers for the Modern Language Association, one should first develop a supporting thesis. He should then organize the evidence relating to that thesis. After this, he should do his research in order to find sources that support the argument. While doing this, providing the background of the subject is important as well as a definition and explanation of the terms. Claims must also be supported with evidence from authoritative sources. At the same time, objections must be anticipated when writing supporting statements.

Writing an academic paper is also all about avoiding plagiarism. In order to avoid this, one should be able to properly and exactly cite quotations and borrowed ideas, which excludes common knowledge such as Martin Luther receiving the Nobel Prize.  The borrowed information must be enclosed in quotation marks. Moreover, summaries and paraphrases must be expressed in one’s own words bit still need to be cited. In order to do this well, one must carefully try not to copy the same phrases and sentences from the selection being paraphrased.

The gathered sources must then be integrated but at the same time, the use of quotations must be limited and the use of punctuation marks must be carefully done. In the integration of sources, there should be signal phrases that would provide smooth transition between one idea and the next as well as to introduce a direct quotation. While integrating the sources, statistics and facts must be carefully combined with the text and at the same time, authority must be established for the sources.

Lastly, sources must be properly documented not only within the text but also at the end of the paper in the Works Cited section. While in-text citations need only the author and page number if there is any, the Works Cited section would need the date of publication, the publisher, the address of the publisher, and the full name of the author as additional information.

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02 Jan 2011

Sample Essay: The Significant Accomplishments in life Aristotle

“A tragedy is a representation of an action that is whole and complete and of a certain magnitude. A whole is what has a beginning and middle and end”.

This famous quote is by none other than the celebrated ancient Greek philosopher and scientist, Aristotle, 384 BC – 322 BC, whose intellectual thoughts determined the course of Western intellectual history for two millennia. Aristotle is one of the three most gifted and famous philosophers of the Greek Age, the others being Socrates and Plato, the latter also happened to be Aristotle’s guide and mentor. After Plato’s death he travelled widely and became the tutor of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian who nearly conquered the world. During his lifetime, Aristotle produced many notable works in the fields of physics, metaphysics, poetry, theatre, logic, rhetoric, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology. “What really characterizes Aristotle as a philosopher is not the number and weight of his conclusions (his ‘doctrines’), but the number and power and subtlety of his arguments and ideas and analyses”, (Ackrill, p. 2). Though Aristotle wrote many elegant treatises and dialogues, it is thought that the majority of his writings are now lost and only about one-third of the original works have survived.

In order to understand Aristotle better, we must take a look at his countless contributions for no major philosophical figure has left a more complex legacy for the scholarly editor. Ancient tradition divides the writings of Aristotle into two major categories: exoteric and esoteric. The exoteric publications were written for a wider audience and were meant to be published and distributed beyond the walls of the Academy, Plato’s academy where Aristotle spent twenty years of his life under the guidance of Plato, and were therefore written and edited appropriately by Aristotle himself. Unfortunately, all of these exoteric works have disappeared and hence no evidence of a suitably finished composition by the author exists.

The esoteric works, by contrast, were never designed by Aristotle for publication. They were basically lecture notes or rough drafts, either by Aristotle or recorded by students at the Lyceum, dealing with the many different courses in logic, physics, biology, metaphysics, ethics, politics, rhetoric, and aesthetics which Aristotle gave over a period of more than thirty years. Every text of Aristotle that we are familiar with falls into this category. “Aristotle’s attitude to his predecessors is that of a philosopher rather than a historian. He sees them as aids to reaching the truth; he is not seeking to give a full and accurate account of each of them for his own sake”, (Ackrill, p. 10).

It is believed that Aristotle wrote most of is esoteric texts while still at the Academy and his exoteric texts were written after leaving the school. His surviving works fall into five main categories, the six logical works, which together are known as the Organon,(tool or instrument); the three works on the physical sciences; the work devoted to first philosophy, the most fundamental and abstract of studies, now known as the Metaphysics; six works in politics, ethics, and aesthetics, including most importantly the Nicomachean Ethics named for his son by his second wife, Nicomachus and a vast number of works on psychology and natural history, including On the Soul.

Aristotle founded his own school outside Athens, in a place called the Lyceum. He taught there for thirteen years, giving both public and private lectures. The Lyceum had a broader curriculum than the Academy, and a stronger emphasis on natural philosophy. During this time Aristotle conducted most of the scientific thinking and research for which he is renowned today. In fact, most of Aristotle’s life was devoted to the study of the objects of natural science. Aristotle’s metaphysics contains observations on the nature of numbers but he made no original contributions to mathematics. He did, however, perform original research in the natural sciences, e.g., botany, zoology, physics, astronomy, chemistry, meteorology, and several other sciences.

Aristotle’s writings on science are largely qualitative, as opposed to quantitative. Beginning in the 16th century, scientists began applying mathematics to the physical sciences, and Aristotle’s work in this area was considered to be hopelessly short and inadequate. This was largely due to the absence of concepts like mass, velocity, force and temperature. He had a conception of speed and temperature, but no quantitative understanding of them, due to lack of devices to prove his point. in Physics, Aristotle is famous for the addition of a new element to the already existing four basic elements of life namely, air, earth, fire and water. He named the new element as Aether which is the divine substance that makes up the heavenly spheres and heavenly bodies like stars and planets. Aristotle also contributed to the field of optics. His camera obscura was a device he invented through which he used to examine the shape of the sun. Aristotle is known as The Father of Biology because he was the first person to classify, although crudely, organisms into classes, largely, plants and animals.

“Aristotle’s Ethics begins and ends with this question of the best life, since the task of ethics, as he conceives it, is to seek a systematic answer”, (Broadie, p. 3). Aristotle considered ethics to be a practical rather than theoretical study, i.e., one aimed at doing well rather than knowing for its own sake. He wrote several texts on ethics, including his famous Nichomachean Ethics. Aristotle taught that to achieve a virtuous and potentially happy character requires a first stage of having the fortune to be habituated not deliberately, but by teachers, and experience, leading to a later stage in which one consciously chooses to do the best things. When the best people come to live life this way their practical wisdom and their intellect can develop with each other towards the highest possible ethical virtue, that of wisdom.

In addition to his works on ethics, which address the individual, Aristotle addressed the city in his work titled Politics. He used to consider the city as a natural community. He considered the city to be a priority to the individuals residing within it, “for the whole must of necessity be prior to the part”. He is also famous for his statement that “man is by nature a political animal.” Aristotle conceived of politics as being like an organism rather than like a machine, and as a collection of parts none of which can exist without the others. Aristotle’s conception of the city is organic, and he is considered one of the first to conceive of the city in this manner.

Aristotle’s immense contribution to the philosophy is still widely praised because his philosophy gave a practical understanding of the world. Most of his philosophy is ethics related that gives a lesson of pursuing a life full of joy and happiness. The philosophy of Aristotle is pro-life, pro-happiness and pro-reason. It is his philosophy that has helped the human beings to achieve greatest successes that they wouldn’t have even dreamed of. The development of America and the industrial revolution is also associated with the philosophy of Aristotle that promotes logical reasoning and acquisition of knowledge to live a happy life.

His explanation of role of senses and validity of reasoning helped the mankind to develop a thought process that would eventually help them in achieving everything that seemed impossible to achieve. He is also famous for creating “this-worldly” ethics that aim to make people realize that happiness is something necessary for the existence of mankind and the ultimate goal of the human beings is to achieve the happiness by utilizing all the resources and capabilities that they possess.

“Aristotle is far from suggesting that all we need is to follow some single direction, no matter what. On the contrary, he continues to say that we should define to ourselves’ what it is to live well and what are the conditions required”, (Broadie, p. 4). Aristotle’s view of happiness was different than the view that the society has, today. For human beings, happiness is a kind of emotional state in which a person is delightful and in peace but according to Aristotle, happiness is achieved when the human beings achieve everything that they can. It is about being what you are and pursuing goals that are necessary for you to flourish. Living at the fullest of your potential is the real meaning of happiness. There is no particular route to happiness but it’s an ongoing struggle to pursue realistic goals that can lead to the state of being happy. Aristotle’s philosophy of happiness revolves around the balance in life. Modesty, according to Aristotle, is very necessary to achieve the happiness because the excessiveness or dearth of something can lead to distress in life. Modesty balances the life in its own pleasant sense.

“What is the best sort of life for a man to lead, and what political arrangements are the best? These are questions Aristotle addresses in his ethical works and in the Politics”, (Ackrill, p. 135). The difference between good and bad presented by Aristotle still guides the societal debate for right and wrong. The debate for right and wrong is also a result of reasoning and logic that was presented by Aristotle. According to him, the biggest crime was to know the right course in life but not taking it. Everyone can distinguish between right and wrong and if someone is not doing the right thing then he is doing the biggest crime. Doing only the right thing through right actions can lead to a happy life that is desired by every individual but acquired by a few people. For Aristotle, happiness is a long-term phenomenon that gives the ultimate wealth to the human beings. For the refinement of thought it is necessary for the human beings to contemplate. The surroundings of a person are the best source for contemplation as they help a person to understand all the worldly things and the virtues of a happy life.

Aristotle’s influence on the drama and fiction is not to be ignored. He wrote a book name “the poetics” in 4th century but it is still widely accepted as the guiding principle for dramas and acts performed live by the artists, (Stenudd, 2006). The fiction in movies and books is completely inspired by Aristotle’s ideas. The structure and theory about drama is influenced by the writings of Aristotle. His short book is a guide for any structural composition of dramas and plays in western society. Every theory about drama is written with reference to him and there is no one who can prove his notions wrong as his writings have presented a complete structure of the drama. His writings were later interpreted by many of the authors but they were challenged because of the misinterpretation due to lack of understandings of the terms that Aristotle has used in his short book, (stenudd, 2006).

His theory is too perfect to be rejected but there are many people who put questions about the validity of his arguments. No one possibly can dismiss whatever he has proved in his book about the structure of the drama. The tragedy genre is also influenced by his writings as he believes that tragedy must be acted as it is not something to be narrated to the audience. Aristotle has also explained the parts of the tragedy and according to him the most important part of a tragedy is fable, which is also known as the “soul of a tragedy”, (Stenudd, 2006).

Twenty-three hundred years after his death, Aristotle remains one of the most influential people who ever lived. He was the founder of formal logic, pioneered the study of zoology, and left every future scientist and philosopher in his debt through his contributions to the scientific method. His writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing morality and aesthetics, logic and science, politics and metaphysics. Even if we restrict ourselves to the narrower modern notion of philosophy, his work and influence is too vast to cover in a short space. His research on empirical observation wasn’t restricted to sciences such as biology and astronomy, but extended to history, psychology, language, ethics, and politics. His innumerable contributions have been and will continue to be a source of inspiration and enlightenment to all the future scientists, philosophers, historians and politicians.


Ackrill, J. L. Aristotle the Philosopher, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1981

Broadie, Sarah. Ethics with Aristotle, Oxford University Press, New York, 1991

Politis, vasilis. Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Aristotle and the Metaphysics, Routledge, London, 2004

Stennud, Stefan. Aristotle’s poetics, 2006, retrieved on 21/11/2010 from http://www.stenudd.com/myth/greek/aristotle/aristotle-poetics.htm

11 Oct 2009

Sample Essay: Plato and Aristotle

The two biggest names that come into mind when one speaks of politics are Plato and Aristotle. The two names stand tall, undefeated and unquestioned in the golden pages of political dialogues, reflecting the hearts and minds of people of their times and many more to follow. They devoted their entire lives understanding and interpreting individual citizens and their influences on political beliefs.  Their observations and descriptions of political motives and government forms, have established one of the main traditions in today’s political conceptions.

Plato’s idyllic city is established on the four qualities of astuteness or wisdom, valor, temperance and righteousness. Astuteness or wisdom formulates the city into a wiser one, valor makes it valiant. Temperance is the perception that all and sundry distinguishes his or her own role and righteousness denotes the “harmony that results when everyone is actively engaged in fulfilling his role and does not meddle with that of others” (Plato 85). “His understanding of the city is that it evolves because it fulfills certain functional needs” (Plato 39).

The requirements that are most apparent are provisions, which supports sustenance, protection, and last but not least clothes.  The metropolis can endow with every single one of these for the reason that each person that formulates the place has a definite responsibility. “The association with each other,” offers Plato, “was the very purpose for which we establish the city” (Plato 41). The metropolis would make an assemblage of the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak. The majority of men is only apprehensive of consequences and is commonly unmerited, not many are righteous as much as necessary to guide the city.

Nevertheless justice and virtue only are not adequate. The guardians – those who rule – must be physically strong, lovers of wisdom and knowledge and impervious to outside experience (Plato 46-51). The guardians also lived by a separate set of rules.Plato’s analysis said that each person had a different, but a significant, responsibility in the city. The earliest of Plato’s books were related to the appreciative of righteousness and integrity. One of his famous books, Republic was committed to the strategies of ruling.

Aristotle, on the other hand, speaks of a perfect or ideal society and puts a high value on moderation (Hacker 81). Several groups support temperance since it is partly open-minded and partly traditional Plato’s utopia remains vague and it is conceded to limits that no individual could ever execute them (Hacker 81). Aristotle supposes that Plato is underrating the qualitative alteration in individual temperament and traits that would have to take place in order to attain his utopia (Hacker 81)

The influence of Aristotle on the history of Christianity, virtues and modern politics is a subject that has been discussed for many years. The importance of Aristotle on the formulation of political theories, outside of the Mediterranean region, is not in dispute. The understanding that he had of the political influence of religion resulted in his permanent placement in the annul of political history.

Through the years, many historians, and writers have written about Plato’s influence on all genres. With points of view that are separated by decades, as well as philosophies, the wide range of influence of Plato has been regarded throughout history. Plato desired to inform the reader of his nation how men would operate and what their stance would be in an ideal social order (Hacker 81). Aristotle endeavors to employ actual men in the actual world. (Hacker 81).

In 1992, E.J. Hundert wrote that the changes in the view of the “nature of power”, stem from the Confessions of St. Augustine. In Augustine’s Confessions, he attempted to answer questions about personal and political power. The will of an individual to pursue power, of a political nature, calls into question the moral imperative. Augustine’s question implicates that the pursuit of power could be on the verge of sin; however, that would depend on the source of the desire. It is Augustine’s question, therefore, whether one’s desire for power comes from God, or Satan.

This question influenced the progression of the Christianizing nations throughout the post-Reformation eras. As Hundert stated, it was “one of Augustine’s significant achievements […] to convey the inadequacies of the inherited account of evil”.[1] By this, he meant that the idea of inherent evil, IE, original sin, was an inadequate explanation for the trials of the human spirit. Morality instead would be the primary judge of one’s motivations. The idea that one’s primary motivations were inherently evil seemed ludicrous. Therefore, the desire to seek personal power was not an inherently evil action – only through the conscious choice to pursue evil is it a sin.

The rhetorical statements of Aristotle created room for a shift in political ideology. By suggesting that intent was the source of sin, rather than actions themselves, one would be able to absolve himself of sin by believing that he was following a righteous path.

On the reverse of this, as Augustine wrote, “apparently virtuous acts, like prayer, sacrifice, or the risk of one’s life could in fact stem from vicious, self-regarding motives”.[2] This understanding called into question the root motivations of all people. However, looking at the actions of another, one could not see these motivations, and therefore, could not place judgment on their righteousness or validity.

Plato spoke on this as well. There was no rational process by which one could judge the actions of another – other than one’s personal reason. Reason, therefore would become the most important of the human virtues. He felt that reason, in the mind of any man, could not be corrupted by the passions of evil or by the sinful motivations of others.

Because of these theories, Hundert wrote that Augustine became the “integral feature of Christian moral psychology, secular moral philosophy and the history of political theory in Europe and North America”.[3] This effect would secure the motivations of leaders for centuries.

Hundert suggests that like Augustine, Aristotle argued there was a difference between reason and passion. For a reasonable person, the pursuit of power would be a safe action. However, one who served their own passions would be apt to sin. By maintaining, Aristotle suggests, a well managed ideology and conception of moral value, the pursuit of power would be just as viable an option as piety.

Together, Aristotle and Plato have an incredible power in the political scenario of today. Aristotle facilitated the formation of a few independent and sovereign thoughts. In the finale, Aristotle and Plato were great philosophers and intellectuals. Their judgment of the public and the social order were moderately dissimilar. With regards to virtues, they strived to explain and justify the obvious presence of an omnipotent and omnipresent power, much superior to mortal imagination; a power that the common man so casually calls God.  They aspired to save Christianity from the disruption of heresy and the calumnies of the pagans, and most importantly to renew and exalt the faithful hearing of the gospel of man’s utter needs and God’s abundant grace.  Even today, in the important theological revival of our own times, their influences are the most potent and productive impulses at work.  They were never against celebrating God’s abundant mercy and grace but also fully persuaded that the vast majority of mankind was condemned to a wholly just and appalling damnation. They never denied the reality of human freedom but never allowed the excuse of human irresponsibility before God, vigorously insisting both double predestination and irresistible grace.

Nevertheless they both had an identical objective, to fabricate an enhanced means of existence for the civilization they survived in and for the civilizations that were yet to come.Plato’s city operated akin to a life for, each one executing their customary to precision.

Works Cited

Hacker, Andrew. Political Theory: Philosophy, Ideology, Science. New
York: Macmillan, 1961.

Hundert, E.J. “Augustine and the Sources of the Divided Self”. Political Theory 20 No. 1 (1992): 88

Ibid Studia Patristica Vol. XXXVIII – St. Augustine and His Opponents. E. J. Yarnold, M. F. Wiles Peeters Publishers, 2001 ISBN 9042909641,

Hundert, E.J. “Augustine and the Sources of the Divided Self”. Political Theory. 20 No. 1 (1992): 88

18 Jul 2009

Sample Essay: Dream Interpretation

Dream interpretation has been the subject of interest since the ancient age. In ancient Greece dream analysis was used to cure the people. In ancient Egypt the priests interpreted the dream. Dream has been the center of human interest. Aristotle also made an effort to analyze dreams in his own work. He considered the dreams constituting psychological phenomena. He defined dream as a psychic activity of a person who sleeps. Aristotle was much familiar with some of the characteristics of dream life, for example; he was aware of the conversions of slight sensations perceived in sleep into acute sensation through dream. The famous psychologist Sigmund Freud brought the dream interpretation under the study of psychoanalysis at the end of 19th century. In his famous book ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ by Sigmund Freud made an effort to analyze the comprehended manifold content to unravel the possible meaning of the psyche of the dreamer. The publication of this book was the foundation stone of ‘Freudian Dream Analysis’ or ‘Contemporary Dream Analysis’.

Sigmund Freud

In his book Freud introduced ego and the theory of unconscious mind to interpret the dream. The dream is argued as some sort of fulfillment of wishes where the attempt is made by the unconscious mind to resolve any type of conflict, either from present or an interval of past. But later on in his book ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’ Freud also discussed the dreams that would not appear as wish fulfillment. Freud, in his original formulation introduced the concept of latent dream-thought which could be described as being a subject to an intra psychic force which is referred to as ‘the censor’. In later years Freud used more refined terminology and introduced the discussion in terms of ‘the super ego’ and ‘the works of ego’s forces of defense’. He said that in wakening time all these forces work all together to restrict the repressed wishes of the unconscious mind to enter the conscious mind. Moreover, though these wishes could also emerge during the lower stage of sleep, the resistance could be strong enough to produce a veil behind which the true nature of the desire could easily conceal itself. Freudian theory argues that dreams are compromises to ensure that there is no interruption in sleep, as a disguised fulfillment of repressed desires; they can successfully represent the wishes fulfilled, which could otherwise hamper the sleep and waken the dreamer. However some critics describe him as the source of the most powerful myth of his time. he was ambitious and had psychic bent of mind. (Webster, 1995, 33)

The information in unconscious mind is in a boisterous and often disturbing form, a ‘censor’ in preconscious mind does not pass it unchanged into the conscious mind. In dream the preconscious mind is less active, but it still remains active. Due to this the unconscious mind does distort and redecorate the meaning of the facts to make it via censorship. Moreover, the images in dream are far from what they seem. That’s why Freudian theory argues that the proper and deeper information can help one to realize the structure of the unconscious mind.

Freudian analysis of dream is based on the previous scientific work. Though those were interesting the works did not suffice. Hence he described a number of dreams that he had dreamt for a more realistic illustration of his theory. His method began with analysis of his own dream ‘Irma’s injection’. Moreover he also represented the dreams of his patients as case history. He used famous literatures also for analytical purpose. The best example of this is his discovery of ‘Oedipus Complex’. (“Oedipus Complex”, 2002)

Freud has classified the images of our dreams in the following five ways:

Displacement: It refers to the symbolization of the aspiration for one thing or person through some other thing or person.

Projection: This occurs when a dreamer projects his own desire on any other person.

Symbolization: This is supposed to happen when the quashed aspiration or suppressed desire acts out metaphorically

Condensation: In this process the dreamer likes to conceal his feeling or urges by contraction it or underplaying it. The meaning of this dream imagery may not be obvious.

Realization: It can be said the final stage of dream work. Here an incoherent dream is organized into more comprehensive and logical manner by the dreaming mind. This stage is known as secondary revision

In Freudian theory the experience of nightmares and anxiety dreams were considered as the consequence of failure in dream works: instead of contradicting the wish fulfillment theory, such facts demonstrate the reaction of ego to the repressed wishes which could be very powerful and inadequately disguised. This theory considers the traumatic dreams as the exceptions. Freud was successful the psychoanalytical process of dream interpretation as a ‘royal road to to a knowledge of the unconscious’. However, he was capable of expressing regret and dissatisfaction for the way his revolutionary ideas and thoughts were misapprehended and misunderstood.

In the psychoanalytical process of treatment Freud was successful to introduce the concept of unconscious mind. Before that he experimented hypnosis on his neurotic patients. But after failures of this process to cure some cases he abandoned the aforesaid one and started a process of talking with the patients about their own problems. This came to be known as the process of talking cure, though feeling cure could be more accurate one, as the ultimate goal of the process was to trace and unravel the strong emotional energy that had initially been rejected, and chained in the unconscious mind. This denial of emotion is termed ‘repression’ by Freud. He believed that this repression was often hindering to the normal functioning and behavior of the psyche, and could also hamper the physical smooth functioning of the patient. He used to call it psychosomatic symptoms.

The ultimate goal of Freudian therapy, or psychoanalysis, was to bring the repressed thoughts and feelings at the light of consciousness. His successors think that, the goal therapy encourages the patients to develop a stronger ego. According to others, the goal therapy tries to lead the analysis and to acknowledge his limitations and inability to fulfill his desires.

Classically, the bringing of the thoughts of unconscious mind to the conscious mind is possible through encouraging the patient to talk in free association and talk about dreams. Another important part of psychoanalysis is the relative lack of direct involvement from the side of the analyst. This is meant to encourage the analysis and to project his or her thoughts and feelings onto the analyst. This is known as the process of transference. By this the patient can reenact and resolve repressed conflicts.

Later Freud distinguished between three concepts of unconscious; the descriptive unconscious, the dynamic unconscious and the system unconscious. The descriptive unconscious refers to the features of mental life that people are subjectively aware of. The dynamic unconscious is a more specific construct that refers to the mental processes and contents, which are defensively removed from the consciousness as a consequence of conflicting attitudes. The system unconscious is subject to the idea that when mental processes are repressed, they become organized by the principles, which are different from those of the conscious mind, such as condensation and displacement. Eventually Freud abandoned the concept of the system unconsciousness and introduced the concepts of ego, super ego and identity.

A patient called Sergei Pankejeff was brought to Freud in January 1910. His original name was Pankajeff. His nervous problem included his inability to have ‘bowel movement’ without the assistance of ‘enema’ and debilitating depression. He also had the problem of thinking that there was a veil cutting him from the world. (Gamwell, 2000, 21)

Freud centered his treatment with analysis of a dream. The patient dreamt that he was lying on bed, which was near the window. Suddenly the window opened and he could saw some wolves sitting on the walnut tree, which was just facing the window. The wolves were quite white and looked like sheep dogs having tail like fox and ear pricked like dogs. They were attentive to something else. In a great terror of being eaten up by those voracious wolves the boy woke up. The dream was such a life like clear picture that it took a long time for the nurse to assure the boy that it had only been a dream. At last the nerve of the boy was soothed and he thought that he had been able to escape a great danger.

Freud analyzed the dream eventually on the base of the input provided by Pankajeff. His analysis of the dream was that it was a result of a ‘primal scene’ that Pankajeff had witnessed. Once, at a very young age, he saw his parents having sex from behind. Later on Freud added in his paper that the boy had instead witnessed copulation between animals, which was displaced to his parents.

The analysis of Pankajeff’s dream played a major role in formulation of the famous Freudian theory of ‘psychosexual development’ and it was one of the most significant dreams for the formulation of Freudian theory. This case became the prime one used by Freud to prove the validity of psychoanalysis. It was the first case study, which did not involve Freud himself that brought together the basic aspect of catharsis, the unconscious, sexuality and dream analysis put forward by Freud in his ‘Studies of Hysteria’, ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ and his ‘Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality’.

Carl Jung

Swiss psychologist Carl Jung formulated another famous theory of psychoanalysis. He was the founder of the new school of psychological studies, which is now popular as the ‘School of Analytical Psychology’, or Jungian Psychology. Jungian psychology is different from that of Sigmund Freud but there are so many similarities between the two. The new psychological concepts aim at understanding and integration of the deep forces underlying human behavior. This is achieved through the practice of an accumulative phenomenology around the significance of dream, folklore and mythology. Depth psychology and archetypal psychology are related in the way such that they both utilize the model of unconscious mind to heal the individual and develop their situation. In this context he developed his own distinctive approach of studying the human mind. During the time of working with schizophrenic patients and working with Sigmund Freud and the psychoanalytic community he watched sincerely the unfathomable and mysterious depth of human unconscious mind. It made him interested to unravel the mystery for which he devoted his entire life. He realized the significance of an empirical investigation of the world of dream, myth and soul that could represent the most promising way towards deeper understanding. When he wrote about his concept of building an asylum, he specified what he actually wanted, saying, ” I am not thinking of a lunatic asylum of the usual sort, but of an institute that would admit ill people of all kinds, whose cure could be attempted by means of psychological treatment” (Bair, 2003, 12)

The overarching goal of Jung’s analysis is the reconciliation of the life of an individual with the world of supra-personal archetypes. The individual’s encounter with the unconscious is the lynchpin of this process. The unconscious is always experienced by the individual through the symbols that he has to encounter in all aspects of life: dream, art, religion and the symbolic dreams people enact in relationships and life pursuits. The learning of symbolic languages is very much essential to the encounter with the unconscious, and the reconciliation of individual’s consciousness with the broader world. The individual can set a harmony in his or her life with the supra-personal archetypes if and only if he adopts an attitude of attention and openness to this world.

According to this theory Neurosis appears as a consequence of disharmony between the individual’s consciousness and greater archetypal world. The task of psychotherapy is to enable the patient to re-establish the required harmony and healthy relationship to the unconscious (neither being swamped by it- a state characteristics of psychosis-not completely shut off from it – a state that results in malaise, empty consumerism, narcissism, and a life cut from deeper meaning.). The life is enriched and psychological development is possible only through the encounter between conscious and the symbols arising from the unconscious. Jungian theory emphasized that this process of psychological development and maturation (he also call this the process of individualization) could be considered having critical importance to the human being and the modern society.

To undergo individuation process an individual must be open to the part of himself or herself beyond his or her own ego. To perform this, the modern individual should be attentive to own dreams, explore the world of religion and spirituality, and probe the assumptions of the operant societal worldview instead of living life blindly in accordance with dominant norms and assumptions

The personal unconscious is a potent part-probably the most active part- of the human psyche is the basis assumption. There must be a proper and reliable communication between conscious and unconscious parts of the psyche, which is the most necessary thing for wholeness. Similarly the belief that dream shows the ideas and feelings, of which the human beings are not properly aware, but need to be, and such facts should be expressed in a personalized vocabulary of visual metaphor, is very crucial one. Things, known but unknown belong to the unconscious and dream is the medium to channelize those towards the conscious mind.

There are personal unconscious and collective unconscious. The Jung concept of collective unconscious has a chance of being misinterpreted and hence it should be clarified. That’s why we should know Jungian archetypes. The archetypes of collective unconscious might be thought as human DNA. Actually all human beings share common physical heritage and a predisposition towards common specific gross physical forms. That’s why all human beings have common innate psychological predispositions in the form of archetypes that compose common unconscious. Unlike materialistic world the subjective domain of archetypes can’t be plummeted through the quantitative techniques of research. Rather we can use the examination of the allegorical communications of the human space such as dreams, arts, religion, myth and the themes of human behavioral patterns. Jungian theory postulates that certain symbolic themes exist across all cultures, all epochs, and every individual.

In 1919 Jung introduced the use of psychological archetypes, which was later on adopted by the social scientists. Jung, in his psychological framework, described archetypes as the innate universal prototype of ideas that could be used to interpret the observations. A group of memories and interpretation associated with an archetype is termed as complex; for example, a mother complex is associated with the archetypes of the mother. Jung described the archetypes as psychological organs, similar to physical organs in the sense that both were morphological givens, which arose through evolution.

Jung’s writings have created interest to people of many backgrounds and interests. But Jung was mostly a practicing psychiatrist and involved in treating patients through his whole life. He hypothesized a medical basis of schizophrenia that was beyond the reach of the then medical science. Perhaps, it can best be said that schizophrenia is a medical as well as a psychological matter. A medical understanding could never change the fact that schizophrenia is lived by those who have it psychologically; that is to say, as theorists and scientists, we may say that schizophrenia happens in genes, brains and electrochemical, but once who has schizophrenia it also happens for his mind and experience. So we can say that a pure medical treatment is inadequate for mental illness, as is a purely psychological treatment of major mental illness.

A person called Larry visited Jung with his problems. He dreamt that he was driving with someone on a high hill curvy lane of California hills with some mountain sceneries and some desert like slopes. One place they stooped and while they got down they saw lotus of purple violet blooming everywhere. He also found lots of wiry grasses and arid desert plants. Moreover, some small evergreen plants were noticed. He felt the scarcity of moisture. Some rocks were found here and there. At that time the dreamer identified his companion. It was one of the students of the school in which he taught. They started to plant the pine seedlings. He felt great pains to instruct the student where to plant the seedlings. Since the rainfall was scarce he pointed out the places at which the seedlings will be able to place the root for survival. They set about planting seedlings, looking for loose soil, near watershed slopes of as many flat rocks as possible. They were working very fast. He was feeling great urgency to plant as many seeds as possible. He was afraid that they would not be able to cover the land by plants. The scene ends there. (“Jungian Therapy”, 2008)

Here the therapist would go through a question answer session with Theo. By doing this he gave assistance to the client to obtain a clear mental picture of the dream keeping the main sequence intact, clarifying mental response to the dream images. He had to ensure that Theo was not losing the true dream images by commingling them with waking events that had occurred since the dream. Clarifying dream context is a very crucial thing prior to proceeding towards further amplification.

A session was devoted for the amplification of the scenes of the dream of the client .the therapist and Theo carefully and step-by-step verbally sorted through the audio taped image, order of the events, symbols, motifs and Theo’s emotional associations with people, activities and scenes in the dream. Then they used the tape recording of the client’s dream amplification to study, reflect and collaboratively dissect certain components. By this way they reached the root of the unconscious mind and solved the questions regarded.

Hyman Spotnitz

Hyman Spotnitz, the American psychologist, can be termed as the founder and developer of a new body of theoretical and clinical knowledge namely Modern Psychoanalysis. He was also a follower of the great psychologist and philosopher Sigmund Freud. Spotnitz was very much successful in extending the Freudian theories so as to make them improved and more appropriate in such a way that could become applicable to the fullest spectrum of emotional disorder. These types of modern psychological inventions are mainly intended to provide an emotional-maturational communication to the patients, instead of promotion of an intellectual insight. (“Dr. Hyman Spotnitz”, 1991)


Though these theoretical schools differ, most of them continue to emphasize the powerful influence of the unconscious elements that affect the mental life of the incumbent. Sufficient works have also been done on consolidating elements of the conflicting theory. This approach emphasizes the development of the narcissistic transference approach in which the patient communicates to the therapist as if he is not a separate person, rather a part of his own mind. This theory depicts that most neuroses and severe mental illness originate in the preoperative period, before the development of language. The transference, which develops with these patients, then is largely enacted through behavior, symptoms, and symbolic communications and significantly, the transmission of feeling states, otherwise known as induced or influenced feelings. The ‘narcissistic defense’ is deemed central to most mental disturbances and is characterized by self-hate rather than self-love. Patient becomes aggressive towards the self in order to protect the object. The treatment then stresses on helping the patient to better metabolize their aggressive drives, by gradually being able to express their aggression in treatment. Spotnitz initially emphasized joining with the patient’s resistance instead of challenging and using the counter transference feelings of the therapist to help understanding the patient. His central focus on the clinically useful nature of the therapist’s counter transference was later on taken up by self-psychology and intersubjective approaches to the psychoanalysis. In this process of counter transference and self-analysis the dream has a significant role to play. The therapist should allow the patient to talk about his dream and in this way the therapist would be able to communicate the patient and help him to reach and realize self-psychology.


Bair, D. (2003). Jung: A Biography. Back Bay Books

“Dr. Hyman Spotnitz” (1991), available at: http://mmi.edu/spotnitz.htm (accessed on 17th January 2008

Gamwell, L, (2000), Dreams 1900-2000, Cornwell University Press

“Jungian Therapy”, available at: http://wps.ablongman.com/wps/media/objects/208/213942/jungian.pdf (accessed on 17th January 2008)

“Oedipus Complex” (2002), available at: http://www.cla.purdue.edu/academic/engl/theory/psychoanalysis/definitions/oedipus.html (accessed on 17th January 2008

Webster, R. (1995). Why Freud Was Wrong: Sin, Science, and Psychoanalysis. Basic Books

20 Jun 2009

Sample Essay: Hamlet And The Laws Of Aristotle

Onе of thе forеmost Еlizаbеthаn trаgеdiеs in thе cаnon of Еnglish litеrаturе is ” Hаmlеt” by Williаm Shаkеspеаrе аnd onе of thе еаrliеst critics of trаgеdy is Аristotlе. Onе wаy to mеаsurе Shаkеspеаrе’s work, “Hаmlеt”, is to аpprаisе it using thе mеthods of clаssicаl critics to sее if it mееts thе critеriа for а trаgеdy.

Hаmlеt is onе of thе most rеcognizаblе аnd most oftеn quotеd trаgеdiеs in аll of Еnglish litеrаturе. Аristotlе, who is concеrnеd with thе propеr prеsеntаtion of trаgic plаys аnd poеtry, dеfinеs trаgеdy аs:

“…а rеprеsеntаtion of аn аction thаt is worth sеrious аttеntion, complеtе in itsеlf, аnd of somе аmplitudе; in lаnguаgе еnrichеd by а vаriеty of аrtistic dеvicеs аppropriаtе to thе sеvеrаl pаrts of thе plаy; prеsеntеd in thе form of аction, not nаrrаtion; by mеаns of pity аnd fеаr bringing аbout thе purgаtion of such еmotion.” (Аristotlе 38 – 9)

Shаkеspеаrе usеs chаrаctеr, plot аnd sеtting to crеаtе а mood of disgust аnd а thеmе of propеr rеvеngе, аs opposеd to fеаr аnd pity, hеncе Аristotlе would hаvе disаpprovеd of Hаmlеt аs bеing а trаgеdy. It is thе аbovе mеntionеd еlеmеnts; chаrаctеr, plot аnd sеtting, usеd in а nonаristotеliаn wаy, thаt mаkеs Hаmlеt work аs onе of thе Еnglish lаnguаgе’s most rеnown trаgеdiеs.

By propеr rеvеngе, wе rеfеr to thе Еlizаbеthаn viеw thаt rеvеngе must bе sought in cеrtаin cаsеs, for thе world to continuе propеrly. This is thе mаin plot of Hаmlеt. In Poеtics, Аristotlе dеfinеs for us, thе еlеmеnt of plot аnd shows us how hе bеliеvеs it must bе put togеthеr. Hе аlso bеliеvеs in vаrious unitiеs which hе stаtеs аrе nеcеssаry for а propеr trаgеdy. Аristotlе bеliеvеs in whаt hе cаlls “Unity of plot” (Аristotlе 42 – 3). This “Unity” lеаvеs no room for subplots, which аrе cruciаl to thе thеmе of Hаmlеt. Аnothеr of thе wаys Аristotlе dеfinеs plot in trаgеdy аs “Thе noblе аctions аnd thе doings of noblе pеrsons” (Аristotlе 35). By this dеfinition, Hаmlеt should bе а noblе pеrson, who doеs only noblе things. Аristotlе would hаvе objеctеd to Hаmlеt’s rеfusаl to kill Clаudius during prаyеr which forms thе turning point of Hаmlеt. This is significаnt bеcаusе if hе wеrе to hаvе аchiеvеd his rеvеngе аt thаt point, Clаudius’ soul mаy hаvе bееn clеаn. Hаmlеt wishеs to gеt rеvеngе whеn Clаudius’ “Soul mаy bе dаmnеd аnd blаck / Аs hеll, whеrеto it goеs (Shаkеspеаrе 3, 3, 94 – 5). By wаiting for thе right timе, Hаmlеt losеs his chаncе to аchiеvе rеvеngе. This ignoblе аct doеs аdd to thе thеmе of propеr rеvеngе, not in thе primаry plot, but whеn аll thrее rеvеngе sub-plots аrе considеrеd togеthеr.

Аristotlе аlso bеliеvеd in hеroеs thаt аrе “First аnd forеmost good (Аristotlе 51).” Аlthough Hаmlеt spеnds much timе dеlibеrаting good аnd еvil, аnd whаt thе grеаtеst good is, whеn it comеs timе, hе cаnnot аct. Lаеrtеs doеs аct, but hе аcts rаshly, аnd cаnnot pеrform good еithеr. Fortinbrаs is thе typе of hеro thаt Аristotlе would hаvе prеfеrrеd, аlthough from Fortinbrаs’ point of viеw thе plаy is not trаgic; instеаd it is а comеdy whеrе аll of thе othеr chаrаctеrs run аbout аnd in thе еnd through no fаult of his own, Fortinbrаs rеcеivеs thе kingship of Dеnmаrk. Thе plot еvеnts with which Аristotlе disаgrееs givе mеаning to Hаmlеt’s thеmе.

Аristotlе hаd no room for noblе chаrаctеrs with no аmplitudе аnd thеrеforе hе would hаvе dislikеd most of thе chаrаctеrs in Hаmlеt, еxcеpt for Horаtio аnd Fortinbrаs. In contrаsting Fortinbrаs , Hаmlеt аnd Lаеrtеs wе hаvе thrее mеn of noblе birth, аll of whom hаvе а lеgitimаtе rеаson to sееk rеvеngе. Thе mаin diffеrеncе is thе wаy thаt еаch sееks his rеvеngе. Lаеrtеs sееks rеvеngе in а rаsh аnd illicit wаys аnd hе diеs. Hаmlеt sееks rеvеngе in аn ignoblе wаy аnd hе diеs. Fortinbrаs sееks а Christiаn rеvеngе аnd is succеssful. In this wаy Shаkеspеаrе’s chаrаctеrs furthеr thе thеmе of Hаmlеt in а non-аristotеliаn wаy.

To concludе, onе of thе еlеmеnts contributing to mood is chаrаctеr, howеvеr it is usеd in а non-аristotеliаn wаy. Аristotlе ignorеd thе concеpt thаt а plаy could tаkе plаcе in mаny diffеrеnt sеttings аnd still rеtаin mеаning. In his еlеmеnts of trаgеdy Аristotlе mеntions “Plot, chаrаctеr, diction, thought, spеctаclе аnd song. (Аristotlе 39).” Hе doеs not includе sеtting аs а sеpаrаtе еntity. It is implicit, howеvеr, in his concеption of “Unitiеs” thаt morе thаn onе sеtting wаs not аccеptаblе. Onе еxаmplе mаy bе found in Oеdipus thе King, whеrе аll of thе аction tаkеs plаcе in onе sеtting, аnd whеrе thе gеogrаphicаl sеtting of thе plаy, in tеrms of а historicаl contеxt, doеs not in itsеlf аdd аny mеаning. Аristotlе did, howеvеr, bеliеvе in “Unity of Timе”, whеrе еаch аction follows thе prеvious аction, аnd builds to form а singlе “thrеаd” of аction. Wе would includе thе timе in plаy аs pаrt of thе sеtting. Аnothеr аxiom of Unity of timе is thаt onе stаgе minutе еquаls onе rеаl minutе. It is only by ignoring Аristotеliаn convеntion in sеtting, spеcificаlly unity of timе, thаt Shаkеspеаrе cаn propеrly tеll his story.

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