AP European History : Secularization of Learning

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP European History

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Secularization Of Learning

Descent of Man was written by __________ and attempts to __________.

Possible Answers:

Herbert Spencer . . . rebuke the theory of evolution and defend the Church’s interpretation of human creation

Bertrand Russell . . . rebuke the theory of evolution and defend the Church’s interpretation of human creation

Charles Darwin . . . understand the growth of human civilization through the prism of “survival of the fittest”

Herbert Spencer . . . apply the theory of evolution to the development of humans

Charles Darwin . . . apply the theory of evolution to the development of humans

Correct answer:

Charles Darwin . . . apply the theory of evolution to the development of humans

Explanation:

Darwin’s Descent of Man was published in 1871 and is Darwin’s second book on his theory of evolution and natural selection. It follows his original work, published a decade earlier, called On the Origin of Species. The Descent of Man focused on applying the theory of evolution to the development of the human species.

Example Question #2 : Secularization Of Learning

The British philosopher Jeremy Bentham's views on education differed widely from those of his contemporaries in that he believed __________.

Possible Answers:

education should be done on an individual basis rather than in universities

the purpose of education was strictly to educate the clergy

education needed to return to the study of Greek and Latin

access to education should not be restricted on the basis of religion

education should only be available to those who can afford it

Correct answer:

access to education should not be restricted on the basis of religion

Explanation:

Jeremy Bentham was a radical thinker on a number of levels, arguing that decisions should be made based on effecting the most good for the largest number of people. In education, Bentham was perhaps the most radical, but also the most influential. Bentham argued that the then contemporary practice of making education only available to Anglicans who could afford Oxford and Cambridge was wrong. Bentham's ideas were central to the founding of University College London in 1826, which sought to admit students based wholly on merit rather than religion and wealth.

Example Question #3 : Secularization Of Learning

The idea that Christianity represented a “slave morality” and that true meaning and understanding could only be achieved through scientific research is best attributed to __________.

Possible Answers:

Friedrich Nietzsche

Victor Hugo

Francis Bacon

Edmund Burke

Mary Wollstonecraft

Correct answer:

Friedrich Nietzsche

Explanation:

Many of these writers were critical of Christianity in one form or another, but only Nietzsche famously suggested that religion was abhorrent and a distraction from the pursuit of individual truth or meaning. Nietzsche's emphasis on individual subjecthood directly contrasted religious notions of sacrifice, humility, and hubris. Nietzsche’s ideas were widely influential encouraging the growth of nihilism and existentialism and challenging religion's claim as the correct path to truth and meaning.

Example Question #4 : Secularization Of Learning

Prior to the Humanist movement, the vast majority of scholarly writing was undertaken by __________.

Possible Answers:

kings and princes

noblemen

merchants

peasants

clergymen

Correct answer:

clergymen

Explanation:

Throughout the Medieval period of European history, most scholarly pursuits, including writing, were almost exclusively the prerogative of monks and other clergymen. The vast majority of Europeans had neither the education nor the free time to undertake intellectual pursuits, and the noblemen and kings were often more interested in making war and enjoying life. This left the role of scholar occupied almost exclusively by members of the church. Their writing generally reflected their absolute faith in the divine and their belief that the earthly life was merely a preparation for the afterlife.

Example Question #5 : Secularization Of Learning

The work of this scientist proved that laws of nature were predictable and consistent, and that direct divine involvement was not necessary to explain all the workings of the universe.

Possible Answers:

Humphrey Davy

Alexander Pope

Isaac Newton

Ernest Rutherford

Francis Bacon

Correct answer:

Isaac Newton

Explanation:

A famous quotation, usually attributed to Alexander Pope about the importance of the work of Isaac Newton, had direct bearing on this question: “Nature, and nature’s laws, lay bathed in night. God said ‘Let Newton be!' And all was light.” Isaac Newton’s most famous contribution to science was to prove that gravity was the primary driving force behind the movement of planets and of objects on Earth. His research proved that the universe could be explained independently of divine will, ushering in a new era of scientific inquiry and skepticism.

Example Question #6 : Secularization Of Learning

When Newton claimed that he “stood on the shoulders of giants,” he was most likely referring to __________.

Possible Answers:

It is impossible to reliably answer this question.

Thomas Aquinas and Thomas More

Copernicus and Leibnitz

Galileo and Kepler

Petrarch and Dante

Correct answer:

Galileo and Kepler

Explanation:

Like all great scientists, Isaac Newton’s work is simultaneously brilliantly original and deeply reliant on the tradition of scientific inquiry and discovery in which he was participating. When Newton developed his laws of motion and gravity, he was building, specifically, on the work of Galileo and Kepler (and to a lesser degree Copernicus) on the movement of planets and the Earth’s place in the universe.

Example Question #7 : Secularization Of Learning

__________ was the first literary movement in Europe concerned with primarily secular issues.

Possible Answers:

Romanticism

Impressionism

Transcendentalism

Realism

Humanism

Correct answer:

Humanism

Explanation:

Humanism emerged in the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries in the Italian city-states. The emergence of Humanism coincides with the beginning of the Renaissance in Europe. Humanism was an artistic and intellectual movement, and also a literary movement; prominent examples of humanist literary writing include Erasmus and Petrarch. Humanist literary writing represented a shift in the focus of many writers and thinkers from the divine to the temporal, as in Petrarch's sonnets, which focus entirely on earthly love and unrequited desire.

Example Question #8 : Secularization Of Learning

The Scottish philosopher David Hume’s most widely regarded work, A Treatise of Human Nature, attempts to __________.

Possible Answers:

None of these answers is correct.

inductively examine the effect of religion and society on natural human behavior

deductively examine the reasons why human nature is so easily corruptible

empirically examine the psychological basis of human behavior

prove that human behavior is affected little by circumstance, and primarily pre-determined by God

Correct answer:

empirically examine the psychological basis of human behavior

Explanation:

David Hume was a Scottish philosopher in the eighteenth century. He is widely considered to be one of the most influential philosophers in British history and one of the pioneers of empiricism and skepticism in Britain. His most famous work A Treatise of Human Nature attempts to empirically examine the psychological basis of human behavior. Hume firmly believed that people could not have innate ideas, but could only have an understanding based on the things they had directly experienced.  

 

Example Question #9 : Secularization Of Learning

The skepticism of the Scientific Revolution employed __________ to revolutionize Europeans' understanding of the natural world.

Possible Answers:

post-structuralism

deconstructionism

inductive reasoning

sophistry

rhetorical arguments

Correct answer:

inductive reasoning

Explanation:

Francis Bacon was an English scientist who is often credited with coming up with what is now known as "the scientific method." Bacon believed that scientific inquiry was too often conducted with the incorrect spirit, or with the wrong intentions. He advocated for inductive reasoning that prioritized observation and the collection of data above the sporadic and unsupported development of theories based on tradition that had previously dominated scientific inquiry. The general principle of inductive reasoning is to build one's larger theories about phenomena on an accumulated base of smaller, quantifiable observations.

Example Question #10 : Secularization Of Learning

During the Renaissance, the emphasis of many writers, particularly those who ascribed to humanism, shifted from glorification of the divine to __________.

Possible Answers:

a consideration of the human experience

complete refutation of the possibility of a divinity

disdain for the human condition

an appreciation for foreign or unfamiliar cultures and traditions

an approach rooted in non-conformity and mysticism

Correct answer:

a consideration of the human experience

Explanation:

The primary emphasis of most writers of the Renaissance, particularly those who ascribed to humanism, was to consider and celebrate the human experience. Humanist writers celebrated the possibility of all people to better their world and focused much less on religious considerations then had their counterparts in the Medieval Era. This is not to say that Renaissance humanists were all atheists; many were deeply religious. They simply sought to turn their intellectual pursuits toward more open and nuanced treatments of human endeavor and experience.

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