Background and Suggestions for Taking Notes as You Read:

These two excerpts come from two very famous texts in Western intellectual history: John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding published in London in 1690 and Henry Adams's The Education of Henry Adams first published in Washington, D.C., in 1907. Both are manifestos of a sort, participating in the Enlightenment notion that every human can and should think for him or herself. The ideas presented here that come from the metaphors they use show the mind functioning mechanically -- like a printing press or a machine. These metaphorical ideas are not philosophical beliefs held by these thinkers but are ideas coming from the language they are using to articulate their beliefs about humanity. Sometimes the entailments of the metaphors they use -- that is, sometimes all of the ideas pertaining to printing presses, machines, and manikins -- would definitely conflict with Locke's and Adams's consciously held principles. (Sometimes we use language, but sometimes, if we are not enough aware of what we are doing, language uses us!) In analyzing the metaphors you find in these passages, then, you will be looking NOT for what the authors say, but rather for how the sentences work. In other words, do not summarize what Locke says as you read, but rather, figure out what metaphors he is using. You can do so by filling in the following grid:

 

Mind = _____________________________________

Ideas = _____________________________________

 

For Adams:

Students (implicitly, Minds) = ________________________________________

Ideas = ________________________

Education's output (perhaps not ideas) = _________________________________

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