Alcove Activities: Second Level: Explicating Quotes, Set 1
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Second Level: Explicating Quotes, Set 1
In the previous activities, you have interpreted important quotes by briefly paraphrasing them. In this next activity you will practice another way of approaching understanding of powerful ideas, by stating the idea in your own words, elaborating that idea, giving an example of it, and then developing an analogy or illustration of the idea if you can. If you can’t think of an analogy, don’t be too concerned. An analogy is an example or idea from a different domain of thought that helps you better understand the original idea. These are frequently difficult to develop, whereas examples from your life should be easier to develop.

Use the following template to guide you in explicating the following quotes:

Follow this Example written by our scholars:

“All truly wise thoughts have been thought already thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience.” — Goethe
  1. The essence of this quote is that the most important ideas are not new, but what is new is using them in our thinking. We have to think them through for ourselves, again and again, until we can use them in our lives

  2. In other words, we don’t have to be brilliant to use significant ideas in our life. All of the most important ideas have already been figured out and thought through numerous times throughout history. But if we want to take possession of these ideas, we have to be committed to working them into our thinking, connecting them to personal experience, and then using them to guide our behavior. If we want to live better lives, we don’t have to come up with novel or original ideas. Rather, we need to learn how to live the ones already available to us.

  3. For example consider what Socrates proposed (around 600 B.C.): The unexamined life is not worth living. Throughout history, many people have said that if you want to improve your life, you have to look at the way you live; you have to think about your behavior and what causes you to behave irrationally. Yet, few people take this idea seriously. Few have thought about what it would mean to examine their life. Few have any tools for doing this. Few have related this idea to their personal experience. Few have really faced themselves straight on.

  4. To give you a metaphor (or analogy) so you can better understand what I am saying, consider this: Every city has libraries containing thousands of books that express important ideas and experiences. Yet, most of these books are ignored, not read. Few think of the library as a place to gain ideas that can change their lives for the better. Few realize that rather than to seek out a flashy (and probably superficial) new idea from the mass media, they should master some of the many old, time- tested, deep, and important ideas (from a library or good bookstore).

Now it’s your turn. In this section we do not offer further specimen answers. Again, use this structure to write, clarify, and explain the quotes in this activity:

Quote: “No man is free who is not master of himself.” — Epictetus

State, Elaborate, Exemplify and Illustrate the quote:

Quote: “All our freedoms are a single bundle; all must be secure if any is to be preserved.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

State, Elaborate, Exemplify and Illustrate the quote:

Quote: “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” — Goethe

State, Elaborate, Exemplify and Illustrate the quote:

Quote: “Security is never an absolute... The government of a free people must take certain chances for the sake of maintaining freedom which the government of a police state avoids.” — Bartholini

State, Elaborate, Exemplify and Illustrate the quote:

Quote: “The first step to knowledge is to know that we are ignorant.” — Cecil

State, Elaborate, Exemplify and Illustrate the quote:

Quote: “The more you practice what you know, the more shall you know what to practice.” — W. Jenkin

State, Elaborate, Exemplify and Illustrate the quote: