- Nov 2017
To improve by reading, his morals and faculties.
In my current engagement, "The Individual and Society", we touch on the concept of moral relativism: the idea that morals can be right or wrong depending on the time period and the culture evaluating them. To the writers of the Rockfish Gap Report, the morals of the University of Virginia were sound, so the selection of readings by professors would bolster the morals of the students attending. However, in the reading of this report, and common knowledge of what the University stood for at its inception, we adamantly detest the racism and misogyny that was allowed, if not praised, during the separate time period. This raises the question of where we should be getting our morals from; in 10, 20, 100 or even 200 years, what will be seen of the morals that we take from our families and our University? Will students at the University read our annotations as part of the quadricentennial celebration and be appalled at our morals and what the University was trying to teach us?
What, but education, has advanced us beyond the condition of our indigenous neighbours?
The subjective implementation of the word "advanced" strikes me. The writers of the Rockfish Gap Report claim that those privileged to this education would be more "advanced", but there are only very few aspects in which this is fully applicable; today we observe how they were not advanced in morality and they were not advanced in looking to the future as they claim. If they were advanced in comparison to their indigenous neighbors, then why was the Rockfish Gap Report only written for white males? The writers claim that it is "preposterous...to look backward for better things", but it is quite apparent that this group is living in the past and has no desire to leave it.
To know his rights; to exercise with order & justice those he retains; to choose with discretion the fiduciaries of those he delegates; and to notice their conduct with diligence with candor & judgment.
The idea of educating students on their own rights is interesting when considering the unequal rights of individuals of different race, class, and gender. While students may come to know their own democratic rights as upper class white males of the time, they might fail to gain exposure to the lack of rights of others around them. This most likely perpetuated a system of inequality in which the most educated elite who likely assumed powerful roles were allowed to continue institutional discrimination. However, it is very possible that if there were progressive professors in the University at the time that may have been honorable enough to teach students about the universal rights of all humans.
By him the elements of medical science may be taught, with a history & explanations of all it’s successive theories from Hippocrates to the present day: and anatomy may be fully treated.
From being in a Medicine and Culture class, I have come to discuss the many nuisances of what a doctor's education and life is like. We have discussed repeatedly and in great depth of the need for doctors to obtain a comprehensive education, both among different medical fields but also not just limited to the math and sciences. Philosophy, morality, history, humanities, among other subjects can all have a positive effect on the quality of a doctor and his performance and happiness. It prevents the idea of medicalization in which doctors are taught to be like robots and reminds them that they are first and foremost caretakers meant to heal people physically but also mentally and emotionally.
To give to every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business. To enable him to calculate for himself, and to express & preserve his ideas, his contracts & accounts in writing.
Upon reading through the report again, these two sentences really struck me for two reasons. First, they highlight the goal of self-sufficiency and independence that is still very much a part of the University and higher education in general today. Second, only the preposition "he" is used, demonstrating the unavailability of said self-sufficiency and independence (especially in business matters) to women at this time. Furthermore, the expression of thoughts is specified to be in writing as opposed to speech, which belies the sense of permanence we equate to the written word as a species.
- Oct 2017
Three places were proposed, to wit Lexington in the County of Rockbridge, Staunton in the County of Augusta, and the Central college in the County of Albemarle: each of these was unexceptionable as to healthiness & fertility. It was the degree of centrality to the white population of the state which alone then constituted the important point of comparison between these places: and the board, after full enquiry & impartial & mature consideration, are of opinion that the central point of the white population of the state is nearer to the central college, than to either Lexington or Staunton by great & important differences, and all other circumstances of the place in general being favorable to it as a position for an University, they do report the central college in Albemarle to be a convenient & proper part of the State for the University of Virginia.
Parallels can be drawn between this statement and the controversy of the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, VA. TJ’s original view of the university was to serve as an all-white school, making a point to have the University in a centralized area for whites. Charlottesville being chosen speaks volumes because the geographical location was picked specifically with race in mind, in turn kickstarting racist history in Charlottesville in a new way. The view of this being a white college town can be connected to issues involving race today, with the confederate statues being an example. At first glance, one may think nothing of it. However, these statues assert their superiority, inciting fear in blacks, while claiming the city of Charlottesville as theirs.
To harmonize & promote the interests of agriculture, manufactures & commerce and by well informed views of political economy to give a free scope to the public industry.
With this quote, what catches my eye particularly is the "promote the interests of agriculture." During this time period, slave labor was the predominant way to go about agricultural needs. Was this kept in account when agriculture was promoted to individuals? I also sense some hypocrisy if this is the case, with students not being able to bring slaves to grounds.
I would be curious to see how the founders would have pictured and wanted an 'ethics' class to be like. It would be interesting to compare how they would be taught today and see concepts like democracy that are held equally but human rights and equality possibly have a large discrepancy.
Education, in like manner engrafts a new man on the native stock, & improves what in his nature was vicious & perverse
This section reminded me of the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes who believed the nature of man is inherently bad and the purpose of government and education is to control man's selfish desires. In my opinion, I side more with John Locke's philosophy that the nature of man is inherently good but society is corrupted by certain negative people. Education's purpose should be to remind people of their virtuous nature and not become distracted by the inequalities and failures of society.
To enlighten them with mathematical and physical sciences which advance the arts & administer to the health, the subsistence & comforts of human life:
I like the ideal of the union between the arts & sciences. Many want to separate these ideals, but the founders of the university saw that they work together. Also, I like how they stated that art was needed for a healthy life. It is important to be creative, so human life can run smoothly. The combination of arts & science allows for life to be good. The college was teaching people how to live.
We should be far too from the discouraging persuasion, that man is fixed, by the law of his nature, at a given point: that his improvement is a chimæra, and the hope delusive of rendering ourselves wiser, happier or better than our forefathers were. As well might it be urged that the wild & uncultivated tree, hitherto yielding sour & bitter fruit only, can never be made to yield better: yet we know that the grafting art implants a new tree on the savage stock, producing what is most estimable both in kind & degree. Education, in like manner engrafts a new man on the native stock, & improves what in his nature was vicious & perverse, into qualities of virtue and social worth; and it cannot be but that each generation succeeding to the knowledge acquired by all those who preceded it, adding to it their own acquisitions & discoveries, and handing the mass down for successive & constant accumulation, must advance the knowledge & well-being of mankind: not infinitely, as some have said, but indefinitely, and to a term which no one can fix or foresee
It is interesting to see the purposeful imagery the authors used for this passage. They first liken the students of UVA to a chimaera, a being composed of multiple animals, showing they intend to have us as students adapt and evolve during our time here rather than to remain a static character. The writers then go on to mention a tree that has been engrafted, much like a chimaera may take on new animals the tree takes on new fruits. This is what the founders of UVA wanted, but rather than fruits and animals, they wanted to do this with education and I feel this visual analogy serves well in that purpose.
The best mode of government for youth in large collections, is certainly a desideratum not yet attained with us.
I find it interesting how the author of the report discusses the idea of self-governance, yet specifically among students. However, the University had not yet been able to attain it. It is also interesting how the report does not elaborate on the idea of the students self-governing themselves, yet the University has taken the idea very seriously. Today, student self-governance is a major facet of the foundation and community at the University, due to the variety of benefits it provides for the school. The idea of self-governance develops character and teaches valuable leadership skills, as well as great group dynamics. -Komal Kamdar, Morgan Negron, and Lyudmila Avagyan
5. honorary excitements
I believe the use of the phrase "honorary excitements" is extremely interesting, as it is very ambiguous in comparison to the other facets of the “education of youth” the author listed earlier. Aside from tuition, diet, lodging, and government, "honorary excitements" could include any and every activity to make the student a more wholesome individual. In addition to their studies, “honorary excitements” seem to promote student involvement in a variety of extracurricular activities. From community engagement to sports, these activities allow the student to develop skills that they may not be able to learn just inside the classroom. UVA greatly promotes the idea of a community in which students are active.The University has greatly implemented this concept of “honorary excitements” throughout the years, as there are hundreds of clubs and organizations available for students to join. -Komal Kamdar, Morgan Negron, and Lyudmila Avagyan
These exercises with antient nations, constituted the principal part of the education of their youth. Their arms and mode of warfare rendered them severe in the extreme. Ours on the same correct principle, should be adapted to our arms & warfare; and the manual exercise, military maneuvres, and tactics generally, should be the frequent exercises of the students, in their hours of recreation. It is at that age of aptness, docility & emulation of the practices of manhood, that such things are soonest learnt, and longest remembered.
I am fascinated by these two sentences because of what is in my opinion their oddity. The mention of the physical exercises of young boys in ancient civilizations for the purpose of making them strong warriors and then subsequent support of that ideal at the newly-founded University of Virginia is a slightly strange premise to imagine at the University today. First, this sentence, in line with the rest of the report, stresses the all-male status of the University. On top of this, traditional masculine values (strength and military cunning) are held up as highly desirable, even in a more modern age. Perhaps the desire for military training stems from the historical proximity of the authoring of the report to the American Revolution just 35 years before. The sentiment that University sentiments should pursue military and physical excellence whenever possible in their free time is of course an idea that is not central to the University today. However, I think that perhaps the sentiment behind it is; the authors of the Rockfish Gap Report are expressing a desire to see future students pursue proficiency in areas outside of the classroom, an idea that I find both a core part of the fabric of the University and of the private convictions of the student body today.
- Engagement 1540
- visual imagery
- aesthetic engagement
- Human Nature
- Mortality and Morality
- Sep 2017
that of proposing a plan for its buildings; and they are of opinion that it should consist of distinct houses or pavilions, arranged at proper distances on each side of a lawn of a proper breadth, & of indefinite extent in one direction at least, in each of which should be a lecturing room with from two to four apartments for the accommodation of a professor and his family: that these pavilions should be united by a range of Dormitories, sufficient each for the accommodation of two students only, this provision being deemed advantageous to morals, to order, & to uninterrupted study; and that a passage of some kind under cover from the weather should give a communication along the whole range
The planning and design of the lawn shows care for its aesthetic nature. The pavilions were to be set with a specific symmetry and to be linked to each other by student housing. This layout is then mirrored for the other side of the lawn and set with no real limit for its expansion. This exemplifies what the founders of UVA thought about this venture into education, limitless. The proximity between students and teacher signifies a sort of journey one must take in their academic journey, and that this specific road may never end as everyone continually grows.
To expound the principles & structure of government, the laws which regulate the intercourse of nations, those formed municipally for our own government, and a sound spirit of legislation, which banishing all arbitrary & unnecessary restraint on individual action shall leave us free to do whatever does not violate the equal rights of another.
A pretty interesting perspective this quote puts into place. Reflecting that our constitution was built on a reflection of the tyranny done by other countries in order to abolish said tyranny, individual action and spirit are encouraged. Yet it is very well known that it is almost impossible not to violate the equal rights of another. In all regard to the Bill of Rights, why then are their disputes today if this is true?
our indigenous neighbours?
Jefferson and the University's founders held a supercilious view over the Native Americans and their traditional lifestyle. They felt as if the indigenous population was inferior simply for their tendency to revert back to old traditions and simple ways of life rather than pursuing a goal of democracy and advanced civilization. The native population had a structure of government and tradition that maintained their societal constructs but the white men who founded our university considered it to be lesser because it wasn't formal, written down, or an advancement of political theory. In an evolutionary sense, it is interesting to think about when or why it became necessary for humans to need a written out document defining their system of governance or their individual liberty. Did men become more ambitious or unruly as they became "smarter" or more aware and worldly throughout time?
centrality to the white population of the whole state:
In laying the cornerstone of the University the founders considered many places in Virginia including Lexington, Charlottresville, and Augusta County. However, Charlottesville was chosen due to its affluence and concentration of the caucasian population. The concentration of races can be found on a macro-scale dating back 200,000 years ago when the human population in Africa split off into different parts of the Earth. However, this isolation is also present on a micro level even within the confines of a state. Some towns are heavily black and others white, etc.
To improve by reading, his morals and faculties.
I liked the philosophy this phrase presented, that reading could teach one new things that might change one's views on certain topics and thereby influence one's moral directions. I think reading is a form of concentrated listening where one must listen to another's thoughts to full conclusion without opportunity to interject although, how completely one chooses to listen and the interpretations one draws may be flawed from original intent as in any communication on the part of the recipient. However, the rockfish gap doesn't elaborate what varieties of readings the ideal primary education would cover, and I think the breadth of what one learns from deep listening can be just as influenced by the subject matter one is given as much as the receptive will of the reader. In other words, the ideal primary education readings described by the board would be written by white men reflecting the beliefs of white men to be passed onto another narrow body of white men to set down life for a generation knowing what only white men could know. Jin Yoon
the condition of man cannot be ameliorated
The 'natural condition of a human' is viewed to be beastly and ignoble, and knowledge is the only factor that upgrades a human from an animal. However, there's a view that there's a right or wrong knowledge, and a better or worse knowledge, and the European form of thought and enlightenment era sciences are the correct beliefs. Thus, Indians are viewed as ignorant barbarians without European knowledge and beliefs showing through in their lifestyles and cultures, and this is interpreted as proof that they are uncultured rather than of a different culture. I think this view of a heightened state of mind has changed since the founding of the university, where wisdom is the acknowledgement that one doesn't necessarily know everything, and academia is a questioning and open minded collaboration rather than a learning of universal facts or truths. Jin Yoon
full enquiry & impartial & mature consideration
I think it is interesting (and a little nauseating) in how this is what an impartial and mature consideration was considered at the time. The idea that a consideration was considered unbiased while it only accounted for the convenience of one race is baffling; it’s a complete lack of foresight into the future of the people that would make up the university. This relates to our discussion in our evolution engagement about noticing how science is inherently biased, which can be seen in their “impartial...consideration”, which is not impartial at all. They claim how it is a mature consideration, but there is nothing mature about the fact that they are segregating such a large portion of the population in the plans to build the University of Virginia.
It could not be more explicit in stating this University was built for the white population. I wonder whether or not this would have phased anyone at the time reading this; it is one of the most striking words for us reading this paragraph, but for those writing and planning off of it, did it even cause a moment of thought? Even though historically schools, like the University of Virginia, would not be integrated for a very long time (The University did not see full integration until the 1960s), did the planners write out “White population” because that was who they were building it for at the present moment? Or was it the hope, or even assumption, of the planners that they would be able to keep it that way forever?