In the three weeks preceding their first semester, first-year students attend the Language and Thinking (L&T) program, an intensive, writing-centered introduction to the liberal arts. The interdisciplinary program, established in 1981, aims to "cultivate habits of thoughtful reading and discussion, clear articulation, accurate self-critique, and productive collaboration." The program covers philosophy, history, science, poetry, fiction, and religion. In 2011, the core readings included works by Hannah Arendt, Franz Kafka, Frans de Waal, Stephen Jay Gould, Clifford Geertz, M. NourbeSe Philip, and Sophocles.
In the Analects, Confucius identifies the cardinal virtue of ren (variously translated as goodness, humanity, benevolence) with many different attitudes and behaviors. Yet Confucius also says, “There is one thread that runs through my doctrines.“ Commentators differ about what that one thread is. What, in your opinion, could that one thread be? How does that one thread tie together the wide range of moral values that Confucius celebrates in the Analects? Support your answer by interpreting specific passages from the text.
Yao Wen, 17, a senior at Stuyvesant High School in New York City, had a different assessment: “Four research papers consume a lot of time. I think three months,” the time between the posting of the questions and the deadline, “is not enough."
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