Thursday, May 17, 2007

Summer Days

So here I am, home once again for the summertime, enjoying the fact that I have to do practically nothing (at least for the moment), but already missing my TAC friends like the dickens. The last few days have been pretty good. On Monday I went around picking up job applications for every possible place in between here and kingdom come. Tuesday I spent with my Mom over at her part-time job at church, so I got to see several friends and catch up while over there. Wednesday I met with one of my long-time friends, had a little adventure involving jumping her car and driving to meet and pick her up from the car-shop place, and then finally got to actually hang out for a while, show her pictures, take a walk, etc. It was nice. Today I've been doing more job applications. Joy (note sarcasm). But college isn't cheap, and the money has to come from somewhere. That has pretty much been my life lately. I just realized that I spent a whole year at an incredibly good liberal arts college and have posted next to nothing about what I've actually been learning. So, here's trying for a brief run-down. Philosophy this year, as we finally gathered while studying for exams, was all about what St. Thomas Aquinas calls the three acts of reason: understanding indivisibles, composition and division of things understood, and lastly (this is the one most properly called logic) to infer from one thing to another. Aristotle's Categories, done first semester, covered the first of these acts, having to do with understanding the different ways of being, or categories, of which there are ten. De Interpretatione, also by Aristotle, deals with the second act, which is about predication and the making of statements using the indivisibles already understood through the first act. Second semester was all about the last and most proper act, and for this we read Aristotle's Analytics, both Prior and Posterior, as well as some of the Topics. These books talked about syllogisms, both demonstrative and dialectic, and how they are used to put statements together and get a conclusion. Pretty cool stuff.

In theology we spent the year reading the Bible and discussing not only the topics brought up by each book individually, but more importantly those which were common to many of the different books, such as circumcision of the heart, the old and new law/covenants and their relationship to each other, the mystical body of Christ, justification by faith and grace and how works play into that, the purpose(s) for Christ's coming into the world, wisdom (what it is and how one attains to it; its relationship to fear of the Lord, the law, and faith), even the end times. It was a really fun class, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Lab, as I finally figured out towards the end of the year, was primarily about life, its purpose, the rules that govern it and the formation of living things, contrasting different theories about cells, examining the differences between evolution, also called metamorphosis, and epigenesis as they explain how living things are formed and come to be. Towards the end of second semester we began talking about Archimedes and his treatises on the equilibrium of planes and floating things. I think that was supposed to be a sort of springboard into sophomore lab.

In Math we spent the whole year going through Euclid's Elements, which contains 13 books of geometrical propositions. Each class there would be assigned a certain number of props which we had to learn and memorize, so that next class the tutor could call on people to go up to the board and demonstrate them from memory. This was a really cool class, because we got to go really deep into geometry and see all sorts of relationships between different figures and lines that aren't so apparent on the surface, like how a seemingly insignificant fact about the way in which a certain line is cut actually gives rise to something really cool, like the way in which the squares on the line segments relate.

Language class was about learning Latin, but also about more than that. We went into language itself, and how our words are reflections of the undergoings of our souls (thoughts). As a result we saw how important correct grammar is, not only for English and Latin, but for language in general. It was interesting to be able to see all of that. I also enjoyed the simple Latin part of it as well. More than once I figured out what an English word meant that I hadn't known before by seeing how it came from a Latin root. Not only that, but now I'm beginning to really understand what we're saying when we do the Mass in Latin. Neat stuff.

Lastly we had seminar. Seminar was the TAC equivalent of a literature course, and was by far the most subjective of the classes (although there were still some basic truths that we needed to get out of the text). We did Greek literature this year, everything from comic and tragic plays to Thucydides' and Herodotus' histories of the Peloponnesian and Persian wars, respectively. Important themes of this class had to do with freedom, civil war, poetry and how it affects us, justice, empire, and understanding the characters of famous men, both literary and historical. The readings for this class were some of the most interesting.

So there is the "brief" run-down of my studies during freshman year at TAC. And now, I must cut short this post, as the turning in of job applications calls my name. God Bless you all, and I hope everyone has a great summer.


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