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Week 4 blog revision – Vivian

August 19th, 2011 No comments

 Smith’s world in his “Theory of Moral Sentiments” demonstrates how society chooses to ‘go with the flow’—that is, the flow established by the wealthy. Smith says that the inferiors admire and envy the rich; instead of being mad with jealousy and trying to take down their superiors, everyone wants to serve and aid the rich in keeping their world seemingly perfect. He states that “the profligacy of a man of fashion is looked upon with much less contempt and aversion, than that of a man of meaner condition.” When the rich commit follies, the society choose to overlook those in order to keep their superiors on the high pedestal they currently view them. Yet if the poor do even one wrong thing, society looks down upon them even more.

The poor admire the wealthy, and so wish to be just like them. They imitate them in every way, from the clothes they wear, the way they live, down to the vices they commit. As Smith states, “With most men the presumption and vanity of the [wealthy] are much more admired, than the real and solid merit of the [virtuous].” Commiting the folly of the wealthy plauges their conscience, but they think that the admiration they will attain from their wealth will make up for it. However, spending money like the rich, just fuels the poor even more into poverty, thus creating this cycle of the poor staying poor and looked down upon. The poor follows the flow, the trend, the rules that the wealthy set, but where does it get them? Nowhere, just ever deeper into poverty and society’s contempt.

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Week 2 blog revision – Vivian

August 19th, 2011 No comments

Important words from Montagu’s:

Wisdom and Merit

Wisdom is used throughout the poem. Normally, we see wisdom as a desirable trait. But here, Montagu seems to be decreasing the value of wisdom. In the beginning, the Doctor tries using his wisdom and wit to joke and charm his way to the lady but that the lady takes no notice of it. What does win the lady’s services is gold. Later she writes “With learning mad, with wisdom blind!” It seems as if she is saying that the wise think that they are always right when they’re not. However, later she clarifies her true point when she writes, “None strive to know their proper merit/But strain for wisdom, beauty, spirit,/And lose the praise that is their due/While they’ve th’impossible in view.” Merit is something that is earned. And back then, I’m assuming that merit was earned with status and money. And in men, status and money seemed to be associated with wisdom, good-looks, and religion.

However, Montagu writes that she’s telling this story “to show the wise in some things fail.” She meant to display Dr. S’s arrogance; he thought of himself as having more merit than he really had due to his ‘wisdom.’ He attempted to pay for the lady’s services with his wisdom and wit, rather than gold. She’s saying Swift views himself as an economical object—that he himself has value and because of that, he does not need to pay for the lady’s services. When she says that “none strive to know their proper merit, but strain for wisdom, beauty, spirit,” it seems like she is saying that the higher up someone is, the more they exaggerate and inflate themselves to be. Thus, they will never realize their true worth. Wisdom is thought to earn you merit, but the wise claim more merit than they’ve actually earned.

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MP2 draft – Vivian

August 12th, 2011 3 comments

Draft 2

Sorry that this is a really, really rough draft. My ending is pretty sudden because I ran out of time, and decided to put in a paragraph of my kind of overall thought/idea as my conclusion but just know that I plan on fixing that. Any type of help, especially with ideas and organization would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

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Week 8 blog – Vivian

August 9th, 2011 2 comments

For my second major paper, I think I am going to analyze the economic profile of Julius in “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom”. I want to focus on the idea of labour through cheating in this society, mainly analyzing the times when Julius tried to sabotage Debra’s Hall of Presidents.

In the Bitchun society, Whuffie is what determines the type of lifestyle you may have. If you have a lot of Whuffie, you live a life of luxury, being able to have whatever you want and people always looking up to and trying to please you. If you have little to no Whuffie, as what happened to Julius in the middle of the novel, people avoid you and you lose the luxuries. The elevator doesn’t stop for you, you lose your nice room, your girlfriend breaks up with you, strangers on the monorail don’t respect your personal space… This demonstrates Smith’s idea from “Theory of Moral Sentiments”–that people always look to the rich and aim to please the rich, while avoiding the poor and looking down on them. You gain/lose Whuffie through your interactions with people. When people like you and approve of you and your actions/accomplishments, you gain Whuffie. When you lose their respect/approval, you lose Whuffie. Thus in this society, it is really important to gain everyone’s approval and have them think well of you.

Julius seems to be someone who understands we need Whuffie, but does not believe that it is as important as the newer, younger people like Lil believe it is. His motivation to keep Debra away from the Haunted Mansion is not so that he will get all the credit and Whuffie for rehabing it, but more in order to preserve magic of Disney the way it was. He seems to appreciate the history and memory of things, more than the new, advanced high-tech benefits. This even shows with his wanting to keep his memory of the last year rather than lose it all but live healthily again. This is against what the majority of the society values, which is moving forward and constantly advancing. Julius is against Debra’s renovations of the Magic Kingdom and is afraid that she will take control of the rest of the park, making it new and high-tech like the Hall of Presidents. The first time Julius attempts to sabotage Debra’s project, it didn’t work. Instead, he tried to focus on making the Mansion better which works for a while, until he sabotages Debra’s work a second time. Then he got caught for it and everyone looked down on him for doing so. He lost all his Whuffie and Debra gained a lot of sympathy Whuffie. I was going to use this to show that when he cheats, people look down on him for it and everything goes downhill. He (and Debra, but I am using his point of view) is a great example of how cheating does not work in this society because of the Whuffie system. This society strongly supports honest labour.

 

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Week 7 blog – Vivian

August 2nd, 2011 1 comment

“Further, that the multitude of productive forces accessible to men determines the nature of society, hence, that the ‘history of humanity’ must always be studied and treated in relation to the history of industry and exchange.” (157)

Here, Karl Marx is saying that the amount of resources that a society or individual has available to them will determine how the society is. The economy and industry of a society often impacts the state of the society, both internally and in relation to other societies. If a country’s industry is suffering, this could cause turmoil inside the country and conflict could break out about whose fault it is or what they should do about it. Then, that country will also be weaker in comparison to other countries and may be taken advantage of. That is why Marx says the “history of humanity” must always be studied in relation to the history of industry and exchange. Perhaps he is suggesting that if we want to learn more about a country’s history—why this happened at this point in time—we should look at how its economy was at that point in time too.

Overall, Marx is emphasizing his point that your material surroundings will influence who you are—what you do, how you do it, your status and role in society, etc. His point is that the individual’s lifestyle and status is confined to the environment and the resources he was born with. In other words, the wealthy aren’t because they work hard and the poor aren’t poor because they are lazy; they were born with the materials that pushed them to succeed or fail.

 

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Draft for major paper 1 – Vivian

July 22nd, 2011 2 comments
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Week 5 blog – vivian

July 18th, 2011 1 comment

My first major paper is going to address the second question, “What makes labor value difficult to establish?” I’m going to use Smith’s Wealth of Nations, chapter I and Mandeville’s Grumbling Hive. My overall point is that labor value depends on what aspect of labour you are looking at, be it the amount/difficulty of labour, the final outcome, or the effect on economy.

Both Smith and Mandeville agree that individuals are naturally lazy and aim to have the most gain from as little work as possible. Smith says we do this through the division of labour, and once we focus on one task, we will find the easiest/quickest way to do it. According to Mandeville, this easiest way is through cheat and deceit. He provides many examples of actual workers, from fashion designers to lawyers and doctors. When the quality of their work is poor, so is the quality of their goods and services. However, the hive thrives on this and the value of their community is very high. So can we put a value on their labour when it’s hard to decide if it’s even good or bad?

In Wealth of Nations, Smith demonstrates that when we specialize on one task, production efficiency increases. He uses pin-making as an example: when a few people specialize in each step of pin-making, they can make many more overall pins than if everyone made entire pins themselves. In this situation, each individual does a lot less and a lot easier work, but overall, the output efficiency is better so this type of labour is valuable. But if one person leaves, it will not significantly affect production so is each individual’s labour value decreased? It’s hard to define the value of labour because it’s value is different from each point of view.

One problem I have is that in chapter V of Wealth of Nations, Smith says that labour is the only accurate measure of value because it will never change. I feel like this contradicts my whole essay, so I’m not sure if I should just ignore it and not bring it up, or if I need to address it. And if I need to, I’m  not sure how I would go about doing that.

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Week 4 blog-Vivian

July 11th, 2011 3 comments

Smith’s world in his “Theory of Moral Sentiments” demonstrates how society chooses to ‘go with the flow’, even when they know that the majority is not always right nor good. Smith says that the inferiors admire and envy the rich; instead of being mad with jealousy and trying to take down their superiors, everyone wants to serve and aid the rich in keeping their world seemingly perfect. When the rich commit follies, the society choose to overlook those in order to keep their superiors on the high pedestal they currently view them. Yet if the poor do even one wrong thing, society looks down upon them even more.

Smith says that everyone’s goal and purpose of their labour is to attain respect and approbation. He says that there are 2 ways of doing this– one by wisdom and virtue, the other wealth and greatness. He goes on to say that most aspire for wealth and greatness, despite often, the lack of virtue involved in this pathway. He says that the majority also are worshipers of this group of people, and therefore imitate them in hopes to appear more like the wealthy. This includes copying the vices of the superiors. Those who aspire for this know that it is wrong–they “endeavour to efface, both from his own memory and from that of other people, the remembrance of what he has done”. Even if they were to succeed and achieve honor, they would be too remorse of their follies to enjoy the admiration and respect. One may deduce that Smith is implying that wisdom and virtue is best to strive for, but that it will never allow you to survive in an economy in which the majority succeed through vice and folly. So in his world, the desire for wealth (of respect/admiration) overcomes society’s conscience.

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Week 3 blog- Vivian

July 5th, 2011 1 comment

Mandeville’s hive of bees thrive because of all the vices within their community. Each bee cheats, manipulates, and deceives in order to satisfy its own personal greed. However, this is what allows the community to flourish so well. The community’s value is built upon deceit. In Swift’s “The Lady’s Dressing Room”, he seems to agree that deception and value are connected with each other but in a different way. Swift believes that value itself is deceiving. While Celia appears perfect and beautiful in public, he reveals that in private, she is a disgusting mess. But again, in order to attain that value, Celia has to deceive others by going through numerous horrendous procedures. While their view of how deceit and value connect differ a bit, they both seem to agree that success and value aren’t how they appear to be. Getting there requires doing things that aren’t considered ‘good’.

If asked what makes something valuable, Swift would most likely respond that the labour put into it gives it value. At the end of “The Lady’s Dressing Room”, Swift concludes that instead of being disgusted at how Celia started out, you should be amazed at the finished product and appreciate all the labour that was put into getting there. Mandeville, on the other hand, did not seem to directly address what gives value. From “The Grumbling Hive”, you may deduce that he thinks labour itself is what’s valuable because bee’s seem to always be busy working and “They counted ease itself a vice” (404). Or you may believe that he thinks value is just value, you can get there anyway you want (through honest labour or cheat and deceit). Either way, both strongly agree that deceit plays a role in value.

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Week 2 blog – Vivian

June 27th, 2011 5 comments

Important words from Montagu’s:

wisdom and merit

Wisdom is used throughout the poem. Normally, we see wisdom as a desirable trait. But here, Montagu seems to be decreasing the value of wisdom. In the beginning, she says that the Doctor tries using his wisdom and wit to joke and charm his way to the lady but that the lady takes no notice of it. What does win the lady over is gold. Later she writes “With learning mad, with wisdom blind!”–that the wise think that they’re always right when they’re not. Then she writes that she’s telling this story “to show the wise in some things fail.” Because this poem was an attack on Swift’s poem, I feel like Montagu wanted to show her audience that though Swift is supposedly wise, there are things that he fails in and that he wrote his poem out of spite and embarrassment of his failure.

I chose merit because merit refers to something that deserves respect or praise, so it is something of value. What was valuable in a man back then (I’m assuming) was status and money. And back then, it seemed like wisdom, good-looks, and religion came with high status. But Montagu writes, “None strive to know their proper merit/But strain for wisdom, beauty, spirit,/And lose the praise that is their due/While they’ve th’impossible in view.” This makes me believe that she did not want to portray any trait that Swift had as meritable, and her view of what was meritable is different from the common view as well as our current one.

I chose wisdom and merit because wisdom is usually a trait that can earn you merit. But Montagu seems to believe else wise and so her view on both differs from the norm.

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