Friday, November 19, 2010

Questions For Book X--- Aristotle... Nichomachean Ethics

Warning to Regular Readers-- the following blog entry will be used for a discussion of Book X in Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics. Students have been invited to discuss these questions. You may join the discussion if you wish!

1. What does Aristotle mean by contemplation?
2. According to Aristotle, what  is the relationship between contemplation and happiness?
3. What does he mean by leisure?
4. In his view, what is the connection between leisure and contemplation?... and so leisure and happiness?
5. Reflect on your answer to question 4... If Aristotle is correct, is contemplation open to everyone? What type of life must you possess in order to contemplate?

Bonus question based on the discussion in last class:

The Shared Inquiry approach used in the Lasallian Honors Program is based on 3 levels of questions: (1) factual, (2) interpretative, and (3) evaluative. (Read the handout I gave out earlier in the semester for more details) Before you deal with higher level questions, you must understand a problem at the lower levels. So, for example, you cannot criticize an idea in a "knee-jerk" fashion"  until you understand the idea factually, and interpretively. 

One way to understand an idea or theory is to intellectually "play" with it  before moving toward critique. Personally, I do thought-experiments. I "pretend" I'm the theorist who created the idea (whether I like his/her ideas or not) and  ask myself how might s/he answer possible criticisms  before I ever dismiss them. (As a wise professor once said to me, "If you can easily dismiss a theory held by reasonably intelligent, honest, and careful thinkers then you either (1) don't understand the theory or (2) have an axe to grind.)

With this in mind, I want you to go back to the hypothesis that  pheromones  are the basis of friendship and social bonds in human communities. First, consider what happens in a beehive when  the queen's pheromones disappear with her death. The bees in the hive grow lethargic, and become louder. Normal work does not always get done, and the hive might might eventually die. As a response, the bees try to raise a new queen in order to replace the old dead queen and her pheromones, unless the beekeeper successfully introduces a new queen first. (A modern beekeeper may buy a queen from a breeder online!)

Now I want you to "pretend" you believe that pheromones play a large part in human interaction as well .

6. How might  online dating be totally compatible with a pheromonal theory of friendship bonds?

Happy Thanksgiving all!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What I Learned In This Year of Beekeeping

Every fall since starting this blog, I take some time on this blog to examine what I've learned during the past year of beekeeping. So keeping with that tradition, here are some of the things I've learned:

  1. The Importance of ventilation and moisture absorption in wintering hives-- Two years ago none of my hives survived the winter. Last year, all my hives survived and one of the key differences in my approach between the two years was how I prepared my hives for winter. (I recognize that the nature of each winter could also accounted for differing survival rates!) Last year, I placed a quilt box on the top of each hive to assure more ventilation and moisture absorption.
  2. How to Use a Cloake Board--  Using sources found on the internet, I taught myself how to raise queens through the Cloake Board method. I found this method to be more suitable to the small size of my operation than other approaches I have learned.
  3. Successfully Grafted Larvae--  Two summers ago I learned to graft at the University of Minnesota. This spring, I was able to successfully apply that technique to my own operation.
  4. Develop a Contingency Plan for How to Use Created Nucs-- In my enthusiasm for raising my own queens, I failed to really think through what I was going to actually do with the nucs I created. I did finally give my extra nucs to a beekeeping friend with some room on his farm but not until one of the nucs swarmed. This failure led to my battle with the city council. (see next point)
  5. Squeaky Wheels in the Neighborhood--  I learned that no matter how many people are supportive and understanding about your beekeeping endeavors in town, it only takes one "squeaky wheel" to set in motion a movement to either ban or regulate beekeeping.