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Tutor profile: Jack L.

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Jack L.
Student of Philosophy and Business Ethics at Rollins College
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Questions

Subject: Writing

TutorMe
Question:

Comment on Peter Sale's Book Chapter on Coral Reefs (Our Dying Planet, Chapter 4). What do you think? What does he say?

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Jack L.
Answer:

In Chapter 4 of his work Our Dying Planet, renowned marine ecologist Peter F. Sale describes the treacherous state of the world’s coral reefs. Although there is a plurality of issues that contribute to the demise of our coral reefs, Sale categorizes his focus into climate change, coastal development, overfishing, and pollution. In explaining the impacts of these anthropogenic practices on coral reef depletion, he goes on to say that the environmental ramifications go far past our oceans. Of course, the development of civilization has led to a plethora of inhibitions of coral reef sustenance. For instance, human occupation of coastal areas has led to pollution through runoff and sewage waste dumping (Sale 143). Generally, this leads to an excess level of nutrients in the water, making it more difficult for corals to photosynthesize as a result. I had originally thought that, because these issues and others which harm reefs occur underwater, part of the problem was that not enough humans were aware of them, and this was due to the fact that reefs are simply out of sight for the vast majority of people. Upon reading Chapter 4, I realized that this is not the case. Sale notes this tendency to “identify tourism as a savior” for coral (Sale 147). To be sure, the great majority of the revenue made from tourism goes to international agencies headquartered far away from the reefs. Additionally, the tours happen excessively in some areas such that widespread physical damage to the reefs results from them. (Sale 148) Thus, governments ought to take control of the situation by taxing these endeavors so that the reefs can actually benefit. What makes the situation of coral reef loss worse is that it is yet another instance that is analogous to the evidently large number of ecological harms that slowly emerge to the perception of the common man. Accordingly, Sale employs the metaphor of a mining canary to demonstrate the sensitivity of corals to dire changes that are otherwise undetectable (Sale 164). Notice, like the canary by poor air quality, the world’s coral reefs have been virtually devastated by a seemingly minute change (1 to 2 degrees centigrade) in water temperature.

Subject: Philosophy

TutorMe
Question:

Briefly summarize the Crito dialogue. Why does Socrates refuse to escape?

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Jack L.
Answer:

Socrates is one of Ancient Greece’s many renowned great thinkers. The Trial and Death of Socrates is a series of Platonic dialogues through which Plato portrays Socrates as he likely would have reasoned during his own trial and execution. Crito, in a final attempt to save his beloved fellow interlocutor, tries to convince Socrates to escape before his impending execution and gives numerous justifications for this. However, Socrates once again sides with moral consistency. Crito visits Socrates in prison and first explains to him that if he is put to death, it will harm Crito’s reputation and that of their other colleagues. Socrates then asks, “My good Crito, why should we care so much for what the majority think?” (Plato 14d) Crito responds by telling Socrates that ‘the majority’ are responsible for wronging him, and thus he has both the justification and the means for escape, being that many others are willing to endorse this. Socrates proceeds to effectively pose the question: Can wrongdoing, in response to one’s own nation’s failure to execute justice on their own behalf, have a justification? He then moves to say that although there may be malpractice of justice evident in the nature of his trial, this is the fault of the men who execute it, not that of Athens. Additionally, he says that Athens is responsible for giving him all which he loves and that sparing his life through any means other than persuasion would be a harm to the state. Thus, he successfully articulates Crito’s contradiction in so far as that Crito admits to his claim that there is no place for wrongdoing, and also that failing to abide by one’s own state’s interpretation of justice is only a worse obstruction of it under any circumstance. Through this view, Socrates goes on to project the very scenarios on which Crito’s arguments are rested. Socrates explains that exile would violate the agreements and originations of justice which he has devoted his life to cultivating and that he would be viewed as an enemy to any state which he enters, for if he is willing to commit such a wrong once, he would be perceived to likely do so again. Through the perspective of Athens as an entity, Socrates communicates to Crito that he values his “commitment to goodness” (Plato et al. 54b) over his own life and all of those involved.

Subject: English

TutorMe
Question:

What literary devices does Joseph Conrad employ in his "Heart of Darkness" to illustrate his social commentary? What is his message?

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Jack L.
Answer:

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is set in the Congo in the late 19th century. The period is known as a time of Belgian influence in the region, and they were led by King Leopold II. The Belgians sought to obtain Africa’s natural resources and committed unspeakable human rights atrocities in doing so. Conrad’s novel is an indirect reflection of his first-hand experiences in the region. Joseph Conrad uses this setting in his Heart of Darkness to comment on the horrendous evils of man at the time. Like Conrad, the protagonist, Marlow, experiences the Belgian Congo himself, and this account allows the author to comment on man’s inherent darkness. The author uses elaborate description and gruesome imagery to illustrate the treatment of Congo natives. Just after arriving, Marlow describes a man who he tries to help, but cannot, as the man dies at his feet. This is an instance of man’s ignorance, as it is likely that no one cared for this man before Marlow. Conrad also uses the civil parts of the Congo to comment on how even men who have civil rights are perhaps more greedy than those who do not know better. In his general description of the station and the ivory trade business as a whole, Marlow alludes several times to corruption and greed. Despite his infatuation with him throughout the novel, the protagonist eventually comes to the realization that even Kurtz is morally ambiguous, as his only desire is the acquisition of the material ivory. The reader is thus forced to think that Marlow’s quest to find Kurtz became more and more a blind search for morality in a region that harbors no ethics. Marlow recalls several instances of Cannibalism amongst the natives. This causes the reader to ponder whether Conrad comments on the evil of man in his most primal state, or if this dark practice is a result of Europe’s ignorance of and oppression of the Congo at the time. Conrad reasserts a typical European man’s perception of the Congo people when one character tells Marlow that they, white men, ought to approach the natives as supernatural beings. When they do, the Cannibals do not kill them, and perceive them as gods. The setting plays a pivotal role in the author’s commentary on the state of man at the time of the novel’s writing. In Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad illustrates the atrocities man commits against one another.

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