Thursday, May 29, 2014

Who Was right: Plato or Aristotle?

Ink pen buried alive for 4 years
When this year's senior class were lowly freshmen, I was introducing them to some of the language and vocabulary they would be using in their essay analysis writing over the course of the years of their time studying at Covenant High School. As I was explaining to them Plato's ontology, his answer to the question what is real (only things that last are real, eternal things, things in the realm of ideas), and Aristotle's realism (only things that can be verified with the five senses are real), I snatched up a student's pen and asked the class if this pen was real.

Anne, whose crazy idea this all was, digging
"If we buried this ink pen in a landfill," I pressed them, "would it eventually decompose, dissolve into the dirt and no longer exist as an ink pen?"

"Yes," said one student. "Give it enough time, and it will eventually no longer exist."

"So does that mean that it isn't real?" I asked them. "Was Plato's ontology correct?"

As we continued to debate realism and idealism, one girl brightened and shot her hand up in the air. "Let's go dig a hole and bury it. Then when we're seniors we could dig for it and see if it disappeared."

The class thought this was an awesome idea, and so did I. So we mapped out where we would bury it, dug a hole, and committed a perfectly good green gel pen to the earth--for four years.

One of the students even wrote a sonnet to the pen
Today, the day before graduation, we set to work exhuming the ink pen. One of the students solemnly read out a sonnet that one of the other students had written to the buried ink pen. After some time of fruitless digging, I began to fear either that we had not pin-pointed (or is that pen-pointed?) where we had buried it four years ago, or that Plato was right, and the pen was not actually real.

Then they found it. And even wrote with it! It was restored to its rightful owner, "Recalled to Life" (as Dickens called it in Tale of Two Cities) after being buried alive for four years.

Now, one of these almost-graduates needs to pen a sonnet with the ink pen that has spent the last four years in subterranean darkness. Something along these lines for starters:

I once belonged to a lowly neophyte
Who dug a ditch and barred me from the light.
For four dark years I lived with slimy worms;
Engulfed was I by filth and grime and germs... (I'm out of time, so one of you has got to finish this)

No comments:

Post a Comment