AP English Language : Inference About the Author

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Example Question #1 : Inference About The Author

Adapted from On Liberty by John Stuart Mill (1859)

Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant—society collectively, over the separate individuals who compose it—its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries.

Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs be protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence, and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.

Which of the following positions would Mill not hold?

Possible Answers:

Tyranny can act through governmental channels.

Society should aim to minimize interference in personal opinions.

Society often does censor its people, if only indirectly.

There should be no political or social power whatsoever.

None of the other answer choices is correct.

Correct answer:

There should be no political or social power whatsoever.

Explanation:

Notice that the question asks which position Mill would not hold. It is tempting to think that he would not want any power to be given to the government; however, this is not the case in this selection. He does think that it is necessary to limit social pressure on individual expression; however, he does say, "Society can and does execute its own mandates; and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right . . ." If there are wrong mandates, there can be right ones. Mill might wish to limit the power of such mandates, but he does not wish to eliminate social and political power entirely.

Example Question #2 : Inference About The Author

Adapted from On Liberty by John Stuart Mill (1859)

Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant—society collectively, over the separate individuals who compose it—its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries.

Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs be protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence, and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.

Which of the following political ideals would you think the author most likely to have?

Possible Answers:

Control ideas carefully through regulatory laws.

Highly regulate interpersonal relations in order to prevent people from tyrannizing each other.

Generally keep laws the same, allowing most past distinctions to remain in force.

Allow maximum individual freedom, so long as people are not a danger to each other.

Allow for an aristocracy of intellectuals to rule the cultural landscape.

Correct answer:

Allow maximum individual freedom, so long as people are not a danger to each other.

Explanation:

In contrast to the kind of stifling authority of the tyrannical majority, Mill implicitly backs the idea of personal development and freedom in this passage. (Throughout this essay, he is more forceful in his support of this point.) Indeed, his political ideal is one that allows for the greatest freedom in society, allowing people to make their own individual choices, so long as those individual lives and choices do not infringe on the safety and rights of others.

Example Question #3 : Inference About The Author

Adapted from On Liberty by John Stuart Mill (1859)

Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant—society collectively, over the separate individuals who compose it—its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries.

Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs be protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence, and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.

Which of the following political ideals would you think the author most likely to have?

Possible Answers:

All new ideas should be approved by the social order before being considered safe and acceptable.

Religion should be abolished by the state because of the danger it poses.

Intellectualism should be promoted maximally in all of society.

Freedom is a great social good and should be maximized.

All things should fall under political control in order to prevent monopoly control of culture and business.

Correct answer:

Freedom is a great social good and should be maximized.

Explanation:

This whole text, as is quite evident in its title, is about liberty. In the selection presented here, Mill clearly thinks that finding the proper limit to public encroachment on private matters is "indispensable to a good condition of human affairs." He is a proponent of liberty and wishes for there to be a maximal amount of it in the culture and political environment.

Example Question #4 : Inference About The Author

Adapted from On Liberty by John Stuart Mill (1859)

Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant—society collectively, over the separate individuals who compose it—its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries.

Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs be protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence, and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.

Which of the following proposals would you expect Mill to make in the legislature?

Possible Answers:

A law that promotes the right to suffrage for women

A law that prohibits anything that seems dangerous to the republic

A law that guarantees wide allowance to the topics that are acceptable for publication

A law that promotes the cause of the East India Tea Company against all other tea importers

A law providing education to the poor for free

Correct answer:

A law that guarantees wide allowance to the topics that are acceptable for publication

Explanation:

This passage is about how society tends to censor new ideas, taking them to be unacceptable. Mill holds that such action should be limited. (See especially the last sentence of the selection.) Perhaps Mill would have held some of the other positions listed here. Indeed, he was a supporter of women's rights, for example. However, these other positions are not expressed in this selection.

Example Question #5 : Inference About The Author

Adapted from "The Poet" in Essays: Second Series by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1844)

Those who are esteemed umpires of taste are often persons who have acquired some knowledge of admired pictures or sculptures and have an inclination for whatever is elegant, but if you inquire whether they are beautiful souls, and whether their own acts are like fair pictures, you learn that they are selfish and sensual. Their cultivation is local, as if you should rub a log of dry wood in one spot to produce fire, all the rest remaining cold. Their knowledge of the fine arts is some study of rules and particulars, or some limited judgment of color or form, which is exercised for amusement or for show. It is a proof of the shallowness of the doctrine of beauty, as it lies in the minds of our amateurs, that men seem to have lost the perception of the instant dependence of form upon soul. There is no doctrine of forms in our philosophy. We were put into our bodies, as fire is put into a pan, to be carried about; but there is no accurate adjustment between the spirit and the organ, much less is the latter the germination of the former. So in regard to other forms, the intellectual men do not believe in any essential dependence of the material world on thought and volition. Theologians think it a pretty air-castle to talk of the spiritual meaning of a ship or a cloud, of a city or a contract, but they prefer to come again to the solid ground of historical evidence; and even the poets are contented with a civil and conformed manner of living, and to write poems from the fancy, at a safe distance from their own experience. But the highest minds of the world have never ceased to explore the double meaning, or, shall I say, the quadruple, or the centuple, or much more manifold meaning, of every sensuous fact: Orpheus, Empedocles, Heraclitus, Plato, Plutarch, Dante, Swedenborg, and the masters of sculpture, picture, and poetry. For we are not pans and barrows, nor even porters of the fire and torch-bearers, but children of the fire, made of it, and only the same divinity transmuted, and at two or three removes, when we know least about it. And this hidden truth, that the fountains whence all this river of Time, and its creatures, floweth, are intrinsically ideal and beautiful, draws us to the consideration of the nature and functions of the Poet, or the man of Beauty, to the means and materials he uses, and to the general aspect of the art in the present time.

The breadth of the problem is great, for the poet is representative. He stands among partial men for the complete man, and apprises us not of his wealth, but of the common-wealth. The young man reveres men of genius, because, to speak truly, they are more himself than he is. They receive of the soul as he also receives, but they more. Nature enhances her beauty to the eye of loving men from their belief that the poet is beholding her shows at the same time. He is isolated among his contemporaries, by truth and by his art, but with this consolation in his pursuits, that they will draw all men sooner or later. For all men live by truth, and stand in need of expression. In love, in art, in avarice, in politics, in labor, in games, we study to utter our painful secret. The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression.

Which of the following is most likely true regarding the author’s beliefs, based on the underlined statement in the first paragraph, "We were put into our bodies, as fire is put into a pan, to be carried about; but there is no accurate adjustment between the spirit and the organ, much less is the latter the germination of the former"?

Possible Answers:

The author thinks that physical form is at least partially a result of thought, soul, or spirit.

The author thinks it is foolish to associate thought and spirit with the physical body in any way.

The author does not believe in any deities or higher powers.

The author believes that fire should not be carried around in pans.

The author does not believe that anyone can play the organ in a way that inspires the soul.

Correct answer:

The author thinks that physical form is at least partially a result of thought, soul, or spirit.

Explanation:

We can’t infer anything about what the author thinks about carrying fire around in pans from this statement, and “organ” is not being used to mean the musical instrument. He clearly does not think that associating the soul with the physical body is foolish, as he is advocating for this. This leaves us with two potential answer choices: “The author does not believe in any deities or higher powers” and “The author thinks that physical form is partially a result of soul or spirit.” The passive voice of “we were put into our bodies” suggests that the author thinks that some higher power did this action, so we cannot reasonably infer that the author does not believe in any deities or higher powers. We can infer that the author thinks that physical form is at least partially a result of soul or spirit by considering that he says “much less is the latter a germination of the former.” His complaint is two-fold: he first complains that “there is no accurate adjustment between the spirit and the organ.” This is a fact that he holds to be true, as we have seen previously in the passage. Therefore, when he goes on to state that “much less is the latter the germination of the former,” we can infer that this is also a point he holds to be true. Such an inference is supported by an earlier phrase in the passage, ““the instant dependence of form upon soul.”

Example Question #38 : Making Inferences In Humanities Passages

Adapted from a work by Oscar Wilde in Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde (1914)

Art begins with abstract decoration, with purely imaginative and pleasurable work dealing with what is unreal and non-existent. This is the first stage. Then Life becomes fascinated with this new wonder, and asks to be admitted into the charmed circle. Art takes Life as part of her rough material, recreates it, and refashions it in fresh forms, is absolutely indifferent to fact, invents, imagines, dreams, and keeps between herself and reality the impenetrable barrier of beautiful style, of decorative or ideal treatment. The third stage is when Life gets the upper hand, and drives Art out into the wilderness. That is the true decadence, and it is from this that we are now suffering.

Take the case of the English drama. At first in the hands of the monks Dramatic Art was abstract, decorative, and mythological. Then she enlisted Life in her service, and using some of life’s external forms, she created an entirely new race of beings, whose sorrows were more terrible than any sorrow man has ever felt, whose joys were keener than lover’s joys, who had the rage of the Titans and the calm of the gods, who had monstrous and marvelous sins, monstrous and marvelous virtues. To them she gave a language different from that of actual use, a language full of resonant music and sweet rhythm, made stately by solemn cadence, or made delicate by fanciful rhyme, jeweled with wonderful words, and enriched with lofty diction. She clothed her children in strange raiment and gave them masks, and at her bidding the antique world rose from its marble tomb. A new Cæsar stalked through the streets of risen Rome, and with purple sail and flute-led oars another Cleopatra passed up the river to Antioch. Old myth and legend and dream took shape and substance. History was entirely re-written, and there was hardly one of the dramatists who did not recognize that the object of Art is not simple truth but complex beauty. In this they were perfectly right. Art itself is really a form of exaggeration; and selection, which is the very spirit of art, is nothing more than an intensified mode of overemphasis.

But Life soon shattered the perfection of the form. Even in Shakespeare we can see the beginning of the end. It shows itself by the gradual breaking-up of the blank-verse in the later plays, by the predominance given to prose, and by the over-importance assigned to characterization. The passages in Shakespeare—and they are many—where the language is uncouth, vulgar, exaggerated, fantastic, obscene even, are entirely due to Life calling for an echo of her own voice, and rejecting the intervention of beautiful style, through which alone should life be suffered to find expression. Shakespeare is not by any means a flawless artist. He is too fond of going directly to Life, and borrowing Life’s natural utterance. He forgets that when Art surrenders her imaginative medium she surrenders everything.

Which of these works or types of art would the author be most likely to approve of?

Possible Answers:

Michelangelo’s David

A piece of clay pottery from Ancient Rome

Religious depictions of the apocalypse in the Medieval era

An ornamental display in a traditional Japanese garden

Ernest Hemingway's accounts of the Spanish Civil War

Correct answer:

An ornamental display in a traditional Japanese garden

Explanation:

Any of the answer choices that relate directly to life, or life’s involvement in art, ought to be discounted immediately. So, we can eliminate "Ernest Hemingway's accounts of the Spanish Civil War" and "Michelangelo’s David" for starters. Religious depictions of the apocalypse are an artistic rendering of a profoundly human fear and are a primary example of life affecting art, so "Religious depictions of the apocalypse in the Medieval Era" can also be discarded. This leaves two reasonable answer choices: "A piece of clay pottery from ancient Rome" and "An ornamental display in a traditional Japanese garden." The author might very well approve of a piece of clay pottery from ancient Rome; he also might very well claim that it is not art at all, but rather a useful object. We can say quite categorically that he would approve of an ornamental display in a traditional Japanese garden from inference. The author says, “At first, in the hands of the monks, Dramatic Art was abstract, decorative, and mythological.” He speaks favorably of art in the hands of the monks, claiming it was before the intervention of life rather ruined art. And given that “decorative” is a synonym for “ornamental,” the most likely answer choice is "an ornamental display in a traditional Japanese garden."

Example Question #49 : Inferences About Authorial Opinions And Beliefs In Humanities Passages

Adapted from a work by Oscar Wilde in Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde (1914)

Art begins with abstract decoration, with purely imaginative and pleasurable work dealing with what is unreal and non-existent. This is the first stage. Then Life becomes fascinated with this new wonder, and asks to be admitted into the charmed circle. Art takes Life as part of her rough material, recreates it, and refashions it in fresh forms, is absolutely indifferent to fact, invents, imagines, dreams, and keeps between herself and reality the impenetrable barrier of beautiful style, of decorative or ideal treatment. The third stage is when Life gets the upper hand, and drives Art out into the wilderness. That is the true decadence, and it is from this that we are now suffering.

Take the case of the English drama. At first in the hands of the monks Dramatic Art was abstract, decorative, and mythological. Then she enlisted Life in her service, and using some of life’s external forms, she created an entirely new race of beings, whose sorrows were more terrible than any sorrow man has ever felt, whose joys were keener than lover’s joys, who had the rage of the Titans and the calm of the gods, who had monstrous and marvelous sins, monstrous and marvelous virtues. To them she gave a language different from that of actual use, a language full of resonant music and sweet rhythm, made stately by solemn cadence, or made delicate by fanciful rhyme, jeweled with wonderful words, and enriched with lofty diction. She clothed her children in strange raiment and gave them masks, and at her bidding the antique world rose from its marble tomb. A new Cæsar stalked through the streets of risen Rome, and with purple sail and flute-led oars another Cleopatra passed up the river to Antioch. Old myth and legend and dream took shape and substance. History was entirely re-written, and there was hardly one of the dramatists who did not recognize that the object of Art is not simple truth but complex beauty. In this they were perfectly right. Art itself is really a form of exaggeration; and selection, which is the very spirit of art, is nothing more than an intensified mode of overemphasis.

But Life soon shattered the perfection of the form. Even in Shakespeare we can see the beginning of the end. It shows itself by the gradual breaking-up of the blank-verse in the later plays, by the predominance given to prose, and by the over-importance assigned to characterization. The passages in Shakespeare—and they are many—where the language is uncouth, vulgar, exaggerated, fantastic, obscene even, are entirely due to Life calling for an echo of her own voice, and rejecting the intervention of beautiful style, through which alone should life be suffered to find expression. Shakespeare is not by any means a flawless artist. He is too fond of going directly to Life, and borrowing Life’s natural utterance. He forgets that when Art surrenders her imaginative medium she surrenders everything.

With which of these statements would the author most likely disagree?

Possible Answers:

The author would agree with all of these statements.

Shakespeare contributed to the decline of English drama.

Life’s involvement in art has been detrimental for both.

The integration of life into art created characters who were unrealistic and exaggerated.

Artistic expression suffers when created in abstraction.

Correct answer:

Artistic expression suffers when created in abstraction.

Explanation:

When answering a question like this, it is best to consider the answer choices one at a time, unless the correct answer immediately jumps out at you. Firstly, we know that the author believes that “the integration of life into art created characters who were unrealistic and exaggerated” because he states, “Then [Art] enlisted Life in her service, and using some of life’s external forms, she created an entirely new race of beings, whose sorrows were more terrible than any sorrow man has ever felt, whose joys were keener than lover’s joys.” Likewise, you know that the author believes Shakespeare contributed to the decline of English drama because the author talks about how English drama is in decline and how evidence for this decline can be seen in his works. We do not necessarily know that the author believes life’s involvement in art is detrimental for both. We know that the author believes it was detrimental for art because this is the thesis of the essay, but it involves a slight reach to suggest that the author believes the effect also functioned the other way around. The question asks which of these answers the author would “most likely” disagree with, so we must consider the other remaining answer choice, which says “Artistic expression suffers when created in abstraction.” From the manner in which the author praises art and declares that its truest form is abstract, we can determine that the author would heavily disagree with this statement, and it must therefore be the correct answer.

Example Question #85 : Humanities

Adapted from Volume 1 of History of Woman Suffrage by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage (1887)

Change is a law of life, and the development of society a natural growth. Although to this law we owe the discoveries of unknown worlds, the inventions of machinery, swifter modes of travel, and clearer ideas as to the value of human life and thought, yet each successive change has met with the most determined opposition. Fortunately, progress is not the result of pre-arranged plans of individuals, but is born of a fortuitous combination of circumstances that compel certain results, overcoming the natural inertia of mankind. There is a certain enjoyment in habitual sluggishness; in rising each morning with the same ideas as the night before; in retiring each night with the thoughts of the morning. This inertia of mind and body has ever held the multitude in chains. Thousands have thus surrendered their most sacred rights of conscience. In all periods of human development, thinking has been punished as a crime, which is reason sufficient to account for the general passive resignation of the masses to their conditions and environments.

Again, "subjection to the powers that be" has been the lesson of both church and state, throttling science, checking invention, crushing free thought, persecuting and torturing those who have dared to speak or act outside of established authority. Anathemas and the stake have upheld the church, banishment and the scaffold the throne, and the freedom of mankind has ever been sacrificed to the idea of protection. So entirely has the human will been enslaved in all classes of society in the past, that monarchs have humbled themselves to popes, nations have knelt at the feet of monarchs, and individuals have sold themselves to others under the subtle promise of "protection"—a word that simply means release from all responsibility, all use of one's own faculties—a word that has ever blinded people to its true significance. Under authority and this false promise of "protection," certain beliefs have been inculcated, certain crimes invented, in order to intimidate the masses. Hence, the church made free thought the worst of sins, and the spirit of inquiry the worst of blasphemies; while the state proclaimed her temporal power of divine origin, and all rebellion high treason alike to God and the king, to be speedily and severely punished. In this union of church and state mankind touched the lowest depth of degradation.

All these influences fell with crushing weight on woman; more sensitive, helpless, and imaginative, she suffered a thousand fears and wrongs where man did one. Lecky, in his "History of Rationalism in Europe," shows that the vast majority of the victims of fanaticism and witchcraft, burned, drowned, and tortured, were women. Society, including our systems of jurisprudence, civil and political theories, trade, commerce, education, religion, friendships, and family life, have all been framed on the sole idea of man's rights. Hence, he takes upon himself the responsibility of directing and controlling the powers of woman, under that all-sufficient excuse of tyranny, "divine right."

The people who demand authority for every thought and action, who look to others for wisdom and protection, are those who perpetuate tyranny. The thinkers and actors who find their authority within, are those who inaugurate freedom. Obedience to outside authority to which woman has everywhere been trained, has not only dwarfed her capacity, but made her a retarding force in civilization, recognized at last by statesmen as a dangerous element to free institutions. Hence, in the scientific education of woman, in the training of her faculties to independent thought and logical reasoning, lies the hope of the future.

Based on the whole of this passage, the author would be most likely to define “Divine Right” as __________.

Possible Answers:

the natural order of the world that groups human beings into distinct categories of subservience and in doing so prevents chaos and warfare

an idea put forth by the church to ensure that all humans understand their places and therefore do not seek to rebel or improve their condition

part of mankind’s natural imagining of the world that in spite of its restrictions still allows women the opportunity for self-improvement

a constructed idea designed to justify female subservience and reinforce the power of men

a concept is unfairly weighted to protect the interests of the rich and powerful, regardless of gender

Correct answer:

a constructed idea designed to justify female subservience and reinforce the power of men

Explanation:

In context, at the end of the third paragraph, the author says, “Hence, [man] takes upon himself the responsibility of directing and controlling the powers of woman, under that all-sufficient excuse of tyranny, 'divine right.'” As the author uses the words “excuse” and “tyranny,” we can infer that she believes the concept of “divine right” is not genuine and is used to control people. From this, we can determine that she believes it is a constructed idea designed to justify female subservience and, additionally, to ensure the continued control of women by men. It might be reasonable to determine that the author thinks it is an idea put forth by the church alone, but the author clearly places blame for its propagation with both the church and the state, so this answer is less acceptable than the correct answer.

Example Question #6 : Inference About The Author

Adapted from “Introductory Remarks” in The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud (trans. 1913)

In attempting to discuss the interpretation of dreams, I do not believe that I have overstepped the bounds of neuropathological interest. For, when investigated psychologically, the dream proves to be the first link in a chain of abnormal psychic structures whose other links—the hysterical phobia, the obsession, and the delusion—must interest the physician for practical reasons. The dream can lay no claim to a corresponding practical significance; however, its theoretical value is very great, and one who cannot explain the origin of the content of dreams will strive in vain to understand phobias, obsessive and delusional ideas, and likewise their therapeutic importance.

While this relationship makes our subject important, it is responsible also for the deficiencies in this work. The surfaces of fracture, which will be frequently discussed, correspond to many points of contact where the problem of dream formation informs more comprehensive problems of psychopathology which cannot be discussed here. These larger issues will be elaborated upon in the future.

Peculiarities in the material I have used to elucidate the interpretation of dreams have rendered this publication difficult. The work itself will demonstrate why all dreams related in scientific literature or collected by others had to remain useless for my purpose. In choosing my examples, I had to limit myself to considering my own dreams and those of my patients who were under psychoanalytic treatment. I was restrained from utilizing material derived from my patients' dreams by the fact that during their treatment, the dream processes were subjected to an undesirable complication—the intermixture of neurotic characters. On the other hand, in discussing my own dreams, I was obliged to expose more of the intimacies of my psychic life than I should like, more so than generally falls to the task of an author who is not a poet but an investigator of nature. This was painful, but unavoidable; I had to put up with the inevitable in order to demonstrate the truth of my psychological results at all. To be sure, I disguised some of my indiscretions through omissions and substitutions, though I feel that these detract from the value of the examples in which they appear. I can only express the hope that the reader of this work, putting himself in my difficult position, will show patience, and also that anyone inclined to take offense at any of the reported dreams will concede freedom of thought at least to the dream life.

Based on what is stated in the passage, one can infer that the author __________.

Possible Answers:

is famous

is unable to make sense of his own dreams

is not himself a psychologist

believes himself to have no “intermixture of neurotic characters” 

is participating in a tradition of studying dreams in a psychological light

Correct answer:

believes himself to have no “intermixture of neurotic characters” 

Explanation:

When answering this question, it is important to rely only on information presented in the passage and not bring in anything you may know about Freud. You may have heard of Freud, and might assume that the answer has to be “is famous,” but nothing in the passage suggests that Freud is famous, so this cannot be the correct answer. The way in which the author justifies his work in the first paragraph suggests that this is the first study of its kind, instead of part of a tradition of studying dreams in a psychological light; this is particularly visible when the author begins by stating, “In attempting to discuss the interpretation of dreams, I do not believe that I have overstepped the bounds of neuropathological interest. For, when investigated psychologically, the dream proves to be the first link in a chain of abnormal psychic structures.” In the third paragraph, the author refers to using the dreams of “[his] patients who were under psychoanalytic treatment,” so we cannot assume that he “is not himself a psychologist,” as he seems to be one. The author included his own dreams in the study, so we can infer that he can make some sense of them; this allows us to discard the answer choice “is unable to make sense of his own dreams.” This leaves us with the correct answer, “believes himself to have no ‘intermixture of neurotic characters’.” You could also arrive at this answer by considering how, in the third paragraph, the author writes, “I was restrained from utilizing material derived from my patients' dreams by the fact that during their treatment, the dream processes were subjected to an undesirable complication—the intermixture of neurotic characters.” He then goes on to say that when discussing his own dreams, he “was obliged to expose more of the intimacies of [his] psychic life than [he] should like.” The fact that he constrains the perceived “intermixture of neurotic characters” to his patients in this way and addresses a different reason why he didn’t want to discuss his own dreams supports the idea that he believes himself to have no “intermixture of neurotic characters.”

Example Question #182 : Content Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from Walden by Henry Thoreau (1854)

Still we live meanly, like ants; it is error upon error, and clout upon clout, and our best virtue has for its occasion a superfluous and evitable wretchedness. Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumbnail. In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live, if he would not founder and go to the bottom and not make his port at all, by dead reckoning, and he must be a great calculator indeed who succeeds. Simplify, simplify. Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion.

Our life is like a German Confederacy, made up of petty states, with its boundary forever fluctuating, so that even a German cannot tell you how it is bounded at any moment. The nation itself, with all its so-called internal improvements, which, by the way are all external and superficial, is just such an unwieldy and overgrown establishment, cluttered with furniture and tripped up by its own traps, ruined by luxury and heedless expense, by want of calculation and a worthy aim, as the million households in the land; and the only cure for it, as for them, is in a rigid economy, a stern and more than Spartan simplicity of life and elevation of purpose. It lives too fast. Men think that it is essential that the Nation have commerce, and export ice, and talk through a telegraph, and ride thirty miles an hour, without a doubt, whether they do or not, but whether we should live like baboons or like men is a little uncertain. If we do not get out sleepers, and forge rails, and devote days and nights to the work, but go to tinkering upon our lives to improve them, who will build railroads? And if railroads are not built, how shall we get to heaven in season? But if we stay at home and mind our business, who will want railroads? We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us. Did you ever think what those sleepers are that underlie the railroad? Each one is a man, an Irishman, or a Yankee man. The rails are laid on them, and they are covered with sand, and the cars run smoothly over them. They are sound sleepers, I assure you.

One can infer that the author of this passage would support __________.

Possible Answers:

buying a large house that requires lots of cleaning

ensuring one has the latest new technology

signing up for many clubs and organizations that require attendance at meetings

donating one’s possessions to people who could use them

installing a new type of cable in a city to allow for faster internet speeds

Correct answer:

donating one’s possessions to people who could use them

Explanation:

In the first paragraph, the author notes, “Our life is frittered away by detail,” and in the second paragraph, he says, “The nation itself, with all its so-called internal improvements, which, by the way are all external and superficial, is just such an unwieldy and overgrown establishment, cluttered with furniture and tripped up by its own traps, ruined by luxury and heedless expense, by want of calculation and a worthy aim, as the million households in the land; and the only cure for it, as for them, is in a rigid economy, a stern and more than Spartan simplicity of life and elevation of purpose. It lives too fast.” From this, we can conclude that the author would not be in favor of “buying a large house that requires lots of cleaning,” “installing a new type of cable in a city to allow for faster internet speeds,” “ensuring one has the latest new technology,” or “signing up for many clubs and organizations that require attendance at meetings,” as all of these things would put more things on one’s to-do list instead of simplifying one’s life. The correct answer, “donating one’s possessions to people who could use them,” would help one simplify one’s life, and is thus in line with the author’s urgings.

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