Sunday, August 19, 2007

My version of the Issue writing task in GRE

Present your perspective on the issue below, using relevant reasons and/or examples to support your views.

"The best ideas arise from a passionate interest in commonplace things."

In today's highly competitive world, where it has become very difficult to get a place of your own in a community, where fame is a highly valued commodity, it is very much essential that you are different from others.
Ideas are everything. Alique Padamsee, one of the best advertising gurus in India said clearly "An Idea is worth a million rupees". He is right. Ideas differentiate you from the plebeian man, who does what his boss says him to do, without giving second thoughts or coming up with a new solution of his own, that would guarantee his promotion. This pedestrian lives a very monotonic life surrounded by similar people. He is not known outside his group. He is afterall common. He doesn't have ideas. He is simply vacuous.

Newton, when he was young, was sitting under a tree when an apple hit him. Any pedantic scholar or even any common man, if he was reading a book under the tree would have thrown the apple away in rage, but Newton did the opposite. He invested his thoughts to such a common incident - why did the apple fall? I would argue that Newton's time, this might have been considered the dumbest of all questions though no one knew the answer. This vehement interest in such a trivial and commonplace thing led to a ground-breaking scientfic theory about Gravitation. Newton is unparalled now and the good he did to human beings is implicitly prodigious.

At the beginning of the twentieth century there was this young guy working in a patent office who used to get simply obscure ideas, as his friends would say. Once he asked (paraphrased) : "What would happen if I sit in a rocket that travels at the speed of light? Will light still travel at the same speed and hit me?" This thought process, however trivial it looks, led to a remarkable theory - the Special theory of relativity. And the young man was none other than Albert Einstein.

If you argue that this is twenty-first century and that all ideas have been exhausted, then you are terribily wrong. Ideas are never ending. New ideas keep coming every now and then. Newspapers are proof of that.

The world is shaped by great ideas. The greatest of the ideas have moulded the history and has taken the human community a giant leap everytime. The world is advancing each day at a snail's pace. The greatest of the ideas strike rarely but when they strike they advance the human community by a giant leap.But what triggers such greatest ideas? Who comes up with such mind-blowing ideas?

The solution to the above questions is best addressed by this statement "The best ideas arise from a passionate interest in commonplace things". Everyone of us must remain grounded, have a passionate interest towards even the trivial of things. On the first place, many of us don't give sufficient thoughts, and on the second place, whenever we try to come up with an idea, we essentially start thinking high, give interest to the most complicated ideas. Ideas cannot be forced out, they come naturally. Children must be thought to appreciate the commonplace things. The solution to a trivial problem might help trigger the best of ideas. Remove your glasses and see the world with passion.

One response that got 6/6 is :

Even the most brilliant thinkers, from Socrates to Satre, live lives in time. A childhood, an adolescence, an adulthood; these are common to me and you as well as the greatest writers. Furthermore, many of the great thinkers we esteem in our Western culture lived somewhat unevetful lives. What distinguished their life from say a common laborer was their work. Therefore, what provided the grist for their work? One might say that they were brilliant and this alone was sufficient to distinguish their lives from the masses. Intellect alone can not devise situations or thoughts from no where; there must be a basis and that basis is most common, if not always, observation of the common, of the quotidian. Critics of this idea may argue that these thinkers were products of fine educations and were well schooled in the classics. This, they may point to, is the real basis for their knowledge. I would agrue that although it may be a benefit to study classics and be well schooled in diverse disciplines, these pursuits merely refine and hone an ability each and every person has, the ability to study human nature. Where best to study human nature than in the day to day routine each one of us can witness in him or herself or those around us.

I propose that the two best disciplines to understand this power of the commonplace and its ability to cause a groundswell of thought are philosophy and literature. Every school of philosophy, from the Greeks to our day, share a common mission or intent and that is to understand and explain human existence, with all of its concommitant features. Generally speaking, the Greek philosophers, epitomized in Aristotle, attempted to set down rules for human behavior founded on logic. These rules applied not only to the rare forms of human behavior but largely focused on the more mundane motions of daily life. Many of Aristotle's rules were based on his observations of others as well as himself. Contrast this venture with the existentialists of our century who attempted to look behind the real motivations of human behavior as well understand man's relation to the Universe. To do this, what did these philosophers do? They studied those around them; they submerged themselves in the commonplace, in cities with hordes of annonymous people. While the existentialists, as well those philosophers before, exploited their uncommon eduation and intellect, the basis for their movement was ordinary human behavior and existence.

Finally, literature is similar to philosophy in that it seeks to explain and understand human behavior and therefore rooted in the commonplace. Nevertheless, its relative strength over philosophy is literature's ability to emotionally and spiritually move the reader through the use of contrived situations and fictional characters. It can do this when even the central theme of a piece maybe love between a man and a woman (e.g.commonplace). Literature also distinguishes itself from philosophy in that the breadth of the fiction may be huge. The plot and the detail can be quite ordinary or fanatastic. However, this does not mean that the central themes of all literature, whether ordinary or fantastic, deal with human beings and the problems they find in the world, something which we all share.

In conclusion, I hope it has been shown that a passionate desire to understand and explain human behavior, the significance of our existence and deal constructively with the challanges of life are the centerpieces of at least in two of the most influential areas in human thought. What is more commonplace than the existence of man.

The response that got 1/6 :)

The best ideas arise from a passionate interest in commonplace things because they are from places in the heart. These iseas draw you to learn more about them. The idea or ideas have become passionate to you by either personal experience or by observation. It catches your attention and causes you to examine why or how the occurance /idea exsists. Institentively the desire to know more about the idea pushes you into futher research of the subject. The idea can be something you don't understand to be acceptable or unacceptable. The drive to understand leads to passion and that passion drives you to develope a great idea.


Anonymous said...

Keep working ,great job!