Sunday, July 26, 2009

Quadruple Lecture Day

Sunday's word of the day at Yale University is "lectures." We had about eight and a half hours of lectures today. It is true that we got to take some time out for brunch and dinner, however, someone decided that breakfast was an unnecessary luxury. This I was actually glad for because we were up late doing readings for a lecture today. Despite the sheer amount of lecturing being a bit unfortunate the content was really very good.

The first lecture, which was given before lunch, was taught by Dr. Minh Luong and pertained to Grand Strategy's overall definition, or the lack thereof. Dr. Luong stated that even among its top professors Grand Strategy has no universally accepted definition. The best definition he could give us is that Grand Strategy teaches students to gain an education which allows them to run around and cover many different areas, like a fox, but also to be able to dive deeply into these different areas with the tenacity of a specialist, this trait is attributed to be like hedgehog. This definition is shown on the Grand Strategy logo which has a fox and a hedgehog looking outward. The lecture was compelling because it was all about all the qualities which any leader should have in order to lead effectively. He spoke about the level 5 leader. a level 5 leader is the best of the best and has the ability to do great things. This kind of leader, Dr. Luong explained, is humble in manner but tenacious inside and has a rock solid will. He argued that the humble leader will be able to focus more on his goal and less on himself, allowing him to focus on what needs to be done and not get distracted. I agree with this ideology to a certain extent but also believe that, in reality, reserved leaders are not always able to motivate as well as those who lead gallantly as examples through hard times, rather than staying behind the curtain.

The second lecture was a straightforward summary of the main ideas of the Art of War. We spent a lot of time on the first lecture so this one had to be more brief but I still immensely enjoyed the opportunity to have the ancient text unveiled to me by an expert in international studies and, consequently, conflict. For me, this really brought together the main ideas of the text and allowed me to understand its overall message much more fully.

The third lecture was on classical and welfare liberalism. We learned and discussed a ton about how these previous ideologies have affected ideologies proceeding it and which appear today in our different modern day societies. We decided that the classical liberals who heavily favored hands off government had influenced conservative America the most while its successor, welfare liberalism, preceded and most influenced modern day democrats. I was a bit confused on exactly where capitalists draw the line on government intervention. The question was, "Why do classical liberals see government involvement in 'criminal matters' as just but not government involvement in other issues of general interest such as curbing monopolies and stopping injustices and inequality in the economy?" It was something like that.

The last lecture was on basic philosophy. It would take me days to explain what this professor taught in a couple of hours but if it helps at all this is the surface glance at what we covered. The ideologies behind the philosophies of Teleology vs. Deontology, Positive rights vs. Negative rights, Normative Utilitarianism vs. Descriptive Utilitarianism, and Act vs. Rule. We then learned about the creators of three philosophies, namely Emmanuel Kant, James Mill, Jeremy Bentham, and John Stuart Mill. In our discussion we also learned how to better attack philosophy when it is assigned. Through both tricks of the trade and a couple helpful methodologies we learned how to break down theologies quickly and extract the main ideas. I loved this lecture. I'm astonished by how much I learned in such a short amount of time and am curious to see what it would be like if I get the chance to take this course for an entire semester!

So, in short, the answer is, "yes", the bark of the staff had some bite in their activities today. I'm excited to see how the rest of the week is going to pan out. I think we are holding up well and hopefully we will do fine in the rest of the program. I'll be back tomorrow with more information. Hopefully there will more physical activities to talk about. As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. Sorry I didn't have any photos yet again. I didn't go get my camera back until around 10:00 pm.

1 comment:

  1. Matt,

    The benefit of reading all of your blogs is that I’m reading about these lectures as seen through four different sets of eyes. There a re a few common denominators but each of you seems to be getting something different—something special—out of each lecture. It makes the whole process of reading the blogs much more enjoyable.