Preceptorial Update

When last I wrote about my preceptorial it was to express a certain frustration, irritation, and self-pity. Those sentiments have resolved themselves into a mild case of envy that I’m trying to ignore. It’s not so bad as I had expected, mostly because the tutor, Mr. V___ does most of the talking, and mostly not about the text. In six precepts so far he has yet to ask an opening question that was actually a question, which is nearly unheard of in the St. John’s grad program. By his own admission the class text is dull and mostly opaque, especially for the first third or so. So instead there have been lengthy digressions into Aquinas’ death, Descartes’ meditations on a piece of wax, Paschal’s triangle, books 5 & 7 of Euclid, Plato’s divided line of understanding, Aristotle’s distinction between form and matter (form could apparently be translated as “that which is was [always is for this] to be”), formulas for adding exponents, a 30 minute advertisement for the coolness of Apollonius, why light is said to be a wave and a particle, and other stuff I’ve no doubt forgotten. For the next three classes we’re also doing Apollonius of Perga on conics (book 1: 1-16).

On the one hand, all this stuff is quite interesting. On the other hand, I don’t understand much of it, and so cannot contribute much to the discussion, and, more importantly, I’m having a very difficult time figuring what of it is necessary and what is digression, since strictly speaking 90% of class is a digression. Alas.

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