LSAT Reading : Authorial Tone and Attitude in Social Science Passages

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Example Question #1 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Social Science Passages

Adapted from the third volume of The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (1782)

The spectator who casts a mournful view over the ruins of ancient Rome, is tempted to accuse the memory of the Goths and Vandals, for the mischief which they had neither leisure, nor power, nor perhaps inclination, to perpetrate. The tempest of war might strike some lofty turrets to the ground; but the destruction which undermined the foundations of those massy fabrics was prosecuted, slowly and silently, during a period of ten centuries; and the motives of interest, that afterwards operated without shame or control, were severely checked by the taste and spirit of the emperor Majorian. The decay of the city had gradually impaired the value of the public works. The circus and theaters might still excite, but they seldom gratified, the desires of the people: the temples, which had escaped the zeal of the Christians, were no longer inhabited, either by gods or men; the diminished crowds of the Romans were lost in the immense space of their baths and porticos; and the stately libraries and halls of justice became useless to an indolent generation, whose repose was seldom disturbed, either by study or business. The monuments of consular, or Imperial, greatness were no longer revered, as the immortal glory of the capital: they were only esteemed as an inexhaustible mine of materials, cheaper, and more convenient than the distant quarry. Specious petitions were continually addressed to the easy magistrates of Rome, which stated the want of stones or bricks, for some necessary service: the fairest forms of architecture were rudely defaced, for the sake of some paltry, or pretended, repairs; and the degenerate Romans, who converted the spoil to their own emolument, demolished, with sacrilegious hands, the labors of their ancestors. Majorian, who had often sighed over the desolation of the city, applied a severe remedy to the growing evil.

He reserved to the prince and senate the sole cognizance of the extreme cases which might justify the destruction of an ancient edifice; imposed a fine of fifty pounds of gold (two thousand pounds sterling) on every magistrate who should presume to grant such illegal and scandalous license, and threatened to chastise the criminal obedience of their subordinate officers, by a severe whipping, and the amputation of both their hands. In the last instance, the legislator might seem to forget the proportion of guilt and punishment; but his zeal arose from a generous principle, and Majorian was anxious to protect the monuments of those ages, in which he would have desired and deserved to live. The emperor conceived that it was his interest to increase the number of his subjects; and that it was his duty to guard the purity of the marriage-bed: but the means which he employed to accomplish these salutary purposes are of an ambiguous, and perhaps exceptionable, kind. The pious maids, who consecrated their virginity to Christ, were restrained from taking the veil till they had reached their fortieth year. Widows under that age were compelled to form a second alliance within the term of five years, by the forfeiture of half their wealth to their nearest relations, or to the state. Unequal marriages were condemned or annulled. The punishment of confiscation and exile was deemed so inadequate to the guilt of adultery, that, if the criminal returned to Italy, he might, by the express declaration of Majorian, be slain with impunity.

Which one of the following best captures the author's attitude toward those in general who view ancient Rome?

Possible Answers:

Dismissive of their point of view

Scathing because of their lack of sense

Sympathetic with their lack of knowledge

Horrified by their reasoning

Chiding at their misplaced blame

Correct answer:

Chiding at their misplaced blame

Explanation:

To answer this question, we must simply interpret the author's opening tone. If we look at the lines “The spectator who casts a mournful view over the ruins of ancient Rome, is tempted to accuse the memory of the Goths and Vandals, for the mischief which they had neither leisure, nor power, nor perhaps inclination, to perpetrate,” we can see that the author is making a judgment of the general spectator of the ruins because of his or her hasty conclusions. He is loftily “chiding their misplaced blame” and goes on to correct their mistaken assumptions in the passage.

Example Question #2 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Social Science Passages

Adapted from an essay by Charles William Eliot in The Oxford Book of American Essays (1914)

The first and principal contribution to which I shall ask your attention is the advance made in the United States, not in theory only, but in practice, toward the abandonment of war as the means of settling disputes between nations, the substitution of discussion and arbitration, and the avoidance of armaments. If the intermittent Indian fighting and the brief contest with the Barbary corsairs be disregarded, the United States have had only four years and a quarter of international war in the one hundred and seven years since the adoption of the Constitution. Within the same period the United States have been a party to forty-seven arbitrations—being more than half of all that have taken place in the modern world. The questions settled by these arbitrations have been just such as have commonly caused wars, namely, questions of boundary, fisheries, damage caused by war or civil disturbances, and injuries to commerce. Some of them were of great magnitude, the four made under the treaty of Washington (May 8, 1871) being the most important that have ever taken place. Confident in their strength, and relying on their ability to adjust international differences, the United States have habitually maintained, by voluntary enlistment for short terms, a standing army and a fleet which, in proportion to the population, are insignificant.

The beneficent effects of this American contribution to civilization are of two sorts: in the first place, the direct evils of war and of preparations for war have been diminished; and secondly, the influence of the war spirit on the perennial conflict between the rights of the single personal unit and the powers of the multitude that constitute organized society—or, in other words, between individual freedom and collective authority—has been reduced to the lowest terms. War has been, and still is, the school of collectivism, the warrant of tyranny. Century after century, tribes, clans, and nations have sacrificed the liberty of the individual to the fundamental necessity of being strong for combined defense or attack in war. Individual freedom is crushed in war, for the nature of war is inevitably despotic. It says to the private person: "Obey without a question, even unto death; die in this ditch, without knowing why; walk into that deadly thicket; mount this embankment, behind which are men who will try to kill you, lest you should kill them." At this moment every young man in Continental Europe learns the lesson of absolute military obedience, and feels himself subject to this crushing power of militant society, against which no rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness avail anything.

In the War of Independence there was a distinct hope and purpose to enlarge individual liberty. It made possible a confederation of the colonies, and, ultimately, the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. It gave to the thirteen colonies a lesson in collectivism, but it was a needed lesson on the necessity of combining their forces to resist an oppressive external authority. The War of 1812 is properly called the Second War of Independence, for it was truly a fight for liberty and for the rights of neutrals, in resistance to the impressment of seamen and other oppressions growing out of European conflicts. The Civil War of 1861-65 was waged, on the side of the North, primarily, to prevent the dismemberment of the country, and, secondarily and incidentally, to destroy the institution of slavery. On the Northern side it therefore called forth a generous element of popular ardor in defense of free institutions.

In all this series of fightings the main motives were self-defense, resistance to oppression, the enlargement of liberty, and the conservation of national acquisitions. The war with Mexico, it is true, was of a wholly different type. That was a war of conquest, and of conquest chiefly in the interest of African slavery. It was also an unjust attack made by a powerful people on a feeble one; but it lasted less than two years, and the number of men engaged in it was at no time large. Its results contradicted the anticipations both of those who advocated and of those who opposed it. It was one of the wrongs which prepared the way for the great rebellion; but its direct evils were of moderate extent, and it had no effect on the perennial conflict between individual liberty and public power.

The ordinary causes of war between nation and nation have been lacking in America for the last century and a quarter. How many wars in the world’s history have been due to contending dynasties; how many of the most cruel and protracted wars have been due to religious strife; how many to race hatred! No one of these causes of war has been efficacious in America since the French were overcome in Canada by the English in 1759. Looking forward into the future, we find it impossible to imagine circumstances under which any of these common causes of war can take effect on the North American continent. Therefore, the ordinary motives for maintaining armaments in time of peace, and concentrating the powers of government in such a way as to interfere with individual liberty, have not been in play in the United States as among the nations of Europe, and are not likely to be. Such have been the favorable conditions under which America has made its best contribution to the progress of civilization.

The author’s tone in this passage could best be described as __________.

Possible Answers:

self-absorbed and condescending

congratulatory and optimistic

cantankerous and wanton

thoughtful and nationalistic

haughty and courageous

Correct answer:

congratulatory and optimistic

Explanation:

The primary tone of this passage is definitely optimistic. The author is discussing the positive changes that have been wrought by the American approach to warfare and seems extremely optimistic about what will happen in the future. This can be seen, for example, when the author states in the last pararaph, “Looking forward into the future, we find it impossible to imagine circumstances under which any of these common causes of war can take effect on the North American continent.” We may also observe a congratulatory tone in the author’s writings. He is rather distinctly praising the United States for its influence, and seems to believe that the advancement of society is no accident: “Therefore, the ordinary motives for maintaining armaments in time of peace, and concentrating the powers of government in such a way as to interfere with individual liberty, have not been in play in the United States as among the nations of Europe, and are not likely to be. Such have been the favorable conditions under which America has made its best contribution to the progress of civilization.” You might be able to call this essay “haughty,” “condescending,” or “nationalistic,” but none of these properly capture the tone and feel of the essay.

Example Question #3 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Social Science Passages

Adapted from “Federalist No. 5. The Same Subject Continued (Concerning Dangers From Foreign Force and Influence)” by John Jay in The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (1788)

The history of Great Britain is the one with which we are in general the best acquainted, and it gives us many useful lessons. Although it seems obvious to common sense that the people of such an island should be but one nation, yet we find that they were for ages divided into three, and that those three were almost constantly embroiled in quarrels and wars with one another.

Should the people of America divide themselves into three or four nations, would not the same thing happen? Instead of their being "joined in affection" and free from all apprehension of different "interests," envy and jealousy would soon extinguish confidence and affection, and the partial interests of each confederacy, instead of the general interests of all America, would be the only objects of their policy and pursuits. Hence, like most other bordering nations, they would always be either involved in disputes and war, or live in the constant apprehension of them.

The most sanguine advocates for three or four confederacies cannot reasonably suppose that they would long remain exactly on an equal footing in point of strength, even if it was possible to form them so at first; but, admitting that to be practicable, yet what human contrivance can secure the continuance of such equality? Whenever, and from whatever causes, it might happen, and happen it would, that any one of these nations or confederacies should rise on the scale of political importance much above the degree of her neighbors, that moment would those neighbors behold her with envy and with fear. Both those passions would lead them to countenance, if not to promote, whatever might promise to diminish her importance. She would soon begin, not only to lose confidence in her neighbors, but also to feel a disposition equally unfavorable to them. Distrust naturally creates distrust, and by nothing is good-will and kind conduct more speedily changed than by invidious jealousies and uncandid imputations, whether expressed or implied.

From these considerations it appears that those gentlemen are greatly mistaken who suppose that alliances offensive and defensive might be formed between these confederacies, and would produce that combination and union of wills of arms and of resources, which would be necessary to put and keep them in a formidable state of defense against foreign enemies.

When did the independent states, into which Britain and Spain were formerly divided, combine in such alliance, or unite their forces against a foreign enemy? The proposed confederacies will be distinct nations with different degrees of political attachment to and connection with different foreign nations. Hence it might and probably would happen that the foreign nation with whom the southern confederacy might be at war would be the one with whom the northern confederacy would be the most desirous of preserving peace and friendship. An alliance so contrary to their immediate interest would not therefore be easy to form, nor, if formed, would it be observed and fulfilled with perfect good faith.

Nay, it is far more probable that in America, as in Europe, neighboring nations, acting under the impulse of opposite interests and unfriendly passions, would frequently be found taking different sides. Considering our distance from Europe, it would be more natural for these confederacies to apprehend danger from one another than from distant nations, and therefore that each of them should be more desirous to guard against the others by the aid of foreign alliances, than to guard against foreign dangers by alliances between themselves. And here let us not forget how much more easy it is to receive foreign fleets into our ports, and foreign armies into our country, than it is to persuade or compel them to depart. How many conquests did the Romans and others make in the characters of allies, and what innovations did they under the same character introduce into the governments of those whom they pretended to protect.

The author’s tone in this passage is primarily __________.

Possible Answers:

urgent and argumentative

respectful and accommodating

portentous and amendable

polemical and virulent

introspective and sanguine

Correct answer:

urgent and argumentative

Explanation:

The author’s tone in this passage is best described as “urgent and argumentative"; “urgent” because the author identifies several threats to the prosperity, unity, and continuation of the United States and seeks to caution his audience and detractors about how to deal with these threats before they arise, and “argumentative” because it harangues his opposition for the lack of logic and reason he perceives in their contentions. Evidence of the author’s urgency can be seen in excerpts like “Hence, like most other bordering nations, they would always be either involved in disputes and war, or live in the constant apprehension of them,” and evidence of the author’s argumentative stance can be seen in excerpts like “The most sanguine advocates for three or four confederacies cannot reasonably suppose“ and “From these considerations it appears that those gentlemen are greatly mistaken who suppose.” It is perhaps correct to suggest that the author’s tone could be described as “portentous,” given that it warns of future catastrophes. But, it is certainly not “amendable,” as it is both argumentative and resolute.

Example Question #4 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Social Science Passages

Adapted from Crime: Its Cause and Treatment by Clarence Darrow (1922)

The growth of the big cities has produced the child criminal. He is clearly marked and well-defined. He is always poor. Generally he has lost one or both parents in youth and has lived in the crowded districts where the home was congested. He has no adequate playground and he runs the streets or vacant, waste places. He associates and combines with others of his kind. He cannot or does not go to school. If he goes to school, he dreads to go and cannot learn the lessons in the books. He likes to loaf, just as all children like to play. He is often set to work. He has no trade and little capacity for skilled work that brings good wages and steady employment. He works no more than he needs to work. Every night and all the days that he can get are spent in idleness on the street with his "gang."

Many writers have classified the crimes that the boy commits. It is scarcely worth the while. He learns to steal or becomes a burglar largely for the love of adventure; he robs because it is exciting and may bring large returns. In his excursions to pilfer property he may kill, and then for the first time the State discovers that there is such a boy and sets in action the machinery to take his life. The city quite probably has given him a casual notice by arresting him a number of times and sending him to a juvenile prison, but it has rarely extended a hand to help him. Any man or woman who has fairly normal faculties, and can reason from cause to effect, knows that the crimes of children are really the crimes of the State and society which by neglect and active participation have made him what he is. When it is remembered that the man is the child grown up, it is equally easy to understand the adult prisoner.

The author's tone in this passage is best described as __________.

Possible Answers:

snide and dismissive towards the issue being discussed

fair and even-handed to two opposing viewpoints

dreamy and ruminating on the issue

brusque and determined to convey the point

temperamental and angry about the issue at hand

Correct answer:

brusque and determined to convey the point

Explanation:

The author is up-front about the message he is trying to convey, directly arguing that cities cause juvenile crime, juvenile criminals are "always poor," and that crimes by children should be blamed on the state. The author's sentence structure is also extremely short and brusque, helping him to state his point in a very direct manner.

Example Question #5 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Social Science Passages

Adapted from “The Hypocrisy of Puritanism” in Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman (1910)

Puritanism celebrated its reign of terror in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, destroying and crushing every manifestation of art and culture. It was the spirit of Puritanism which robbed Shelley of his children, because he would not bow to the dicta of religion. It was the same narrow spirit which alienated Byron from his native land, because that great genius rebelled against the monotony, dullness, and pettiness of his country. It was Puritanism, too, that forced some of England's freest women into the conventional lie of marriage: Mary Wollstonecraft and, later, George Eliot. And recently Puritanism has demanded another toll—the life of Oscar Wilde. In fact, Puritanism has never ceased to be the most pernicious factor in the domain of John Bull, acting as censor of the artistic expression of his people, and stamping its approval only on the dullness of middle-class respectability.

It is therefore sheer British jingoism that points to America as the country of Puritanic provincialism. It is quite true that our life is stunted by Puritanism, and that the latter is killing what is natural and healthy in our impulses. But it is equally true that it is to England that we are indebted for transplanting this spirit on American soil. It was bequeathed to us by the Pilgrim fathers. Fleeing from persecution and oppression, the Pilgrims of Mayflower fame established in the New World a reign of Puritanic tyranny and crime. The history of New England, and especially of Massachusetts, is full of the horrors that have turned life into gloom, joy into despair, naturalness into disease, honesty and truth into hideous lies and hypocrisies. The ducking-stool and whipping post, as well as numerous other devices of torture, were the favorite English methods for American purification.

Boston, the city of culture, has gone down in the annals of Puritanism as the "Bloody Town." It rivaled Salem, even, in her cruel persecution of unauthorized religious opinions. On the now famous Common a half-naked woman, with a baby in her arms, was publicly whipped for the crime of free speech; and on the same spot Mary Dyer, another Quaker woman, was hanged in 1659. In fact, Boston has been the scene of more than one wanton crime committed by Puritanism. Salem, in the summer of 1692, killed eighteen people for witchcraft. Nor was Massachusetts alone in driving out the devil by fire and brimstone. As Canning justly said: "The Pilgrim fathers infested the New World to redress the balance of the Old." The horrors of that period have found their most supreme expression in the American classic, The Scarlet Letter.

The author's attitude toward Puritanism is best described as __________.

Possible Answers:

delighted and pleased

wounded and sorrowful

reverential and respectful

angry and alarmed

annoyed and dismissive

Correct answer:

angry and alarmed

Explanation:

The author piles negative language on Puritanism from the start of the passage, and only builds from that point to continually rail against the evil of Puritanism. The author calls it, variously, "narrow," "pernicious," and "cruel," while demonstrating its many "crimes." This all indicates that the author is extremely angry and alarmed about Puritanism.

Example Question #6 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Social Science Passages

Adapted from The Elementary Forms of Religious Life by Émile Durkheim (trans. Joseph Ward Swain) (1915)

For a long time it has been known that the first systems of representations with which men have pictured to themselves the world and themselves were of religious origin. There is no religion that is not a cosmology at the same time that it is a speculation — upon divine things. If philosophy and the sciences were born of religion, it is because religion began by taking the place of the sciences and philosophy. But it has been less frequently- noticed that religion has not confined itself to enriching the human intellect, formed beforehand, with a certain number of ideas; it has contributed to forming the intellect itself. Men owe to it not only a good part of the substance of their knowledge, but also the form in which this knowledge has been elaborated.

At the roots of all our judgments there are a certain number of essential ideas which dominate all our intellectual life; they are what philosophers since Aristotle have called the categories of the understanding: ideas of time, space, class, number, cause, substance, personality, etc. They correspond to the most universal properties of things. They are like the solid frame which encloses all thought; this does not seem to be able to liberate itself from them without destroying itself, for it seems that we cannot think of objects that are not in time and space, which have no number, etc. Other ideas are contingent and unsteady; we can conceive of their being unknown to a man, a society or an epoch ; but these others appear to be nearly inseparable from the normal working of the intellect. They are like the frame-work of the intelligence. Now when primitive religious belief s are systematically analysed, the principal categories are naturally found. They are born in religion and of religion; they are a product of religious thought.

The author's tone in the passage is best described as _________.

Possible Answers:

aggrieved and agitated

haughty and imperious

calm and academic

curt and dismissive

annoyed and irritable

Correct answer:

calm and academic

Explanation:

The author very carefully lays out his own presentation of what defines religion. While discussing many different elements that contribute to religion, and how to fundamentally identify what is key to the nature of religion, the author always keeps an even tone. Additionally, the author presents everything in a logical, academic manner. Certainly, the tone is not "haughty," "imperious," or in any way exasperated or aggrieved.

Example Question #7 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Social Science Passages

Passage adapted from Leon Gambetta's Educating the Peasantry (1869)

(1) We have received a classical or scientific education— even the imperfect one of our day. (3) We have learned to read our history, to speak our language, while (a cruel thing to say) so many of our countrymen can only babble! Ah! (4) That peasant, bound as he is to the tillage of the soil, who bravely carries the burden of his day, with no other consolation than that of leaving to his children the paternal fields, perhaps increased an acre in extent; all his passions, joys, and fears concentrated in the fate of his patrimony. (5) Of the external world, of the society in which he lives, he apprehends only legends and rumors. (6) He is the prey of the cunning and fraudulent. (7) He strikes, without knowing it, the bosom of the revolution, his benefactress… (8) It is to the peasantry, then, that we must address ourselves. (9) We must raise and instruct them… Enlightened and free peasants who are able to represent themselves… should be a tribute rendered to the progress of the civilization of the masses.

(10) …Progress will be denied us as long as the French democracy fail to demonstrate that if we would remake our country, if we would bring back her grandeur, her power, and her genius it is of vital interest to her superior classes to elevate and emancipate this people of workers, who hold in reserve a force still virgin but able to develop inexhaustible treasures of activity and aptitude. (11) We must learn and then teach the peasant what he owes to Society and what he has the right to ask of her.

(12) On the day when it shall be well understood that we have no grander or more pressing work; that we should put aside and postpone all other reforms: that we have but one task— the Instruction of the people, the diffusion of education, the encouragement of science— on that day a great step will have been taken in your regeneration. (13) But our action needs to be a double one, that it may bear upon the body as well as the wind. (14) To be exact, each man should be intelligent, trained not only to think, read, and reason, but made able to act and fight. (15) Everywhere beside the teacher we should place the gymnast and the soldier, to the end that our children, our soldiers, our fellow citizens, may be able to hold a sword, to carry a gun on a long march, to sleep under the canopy of the stars, to support valiantly all the hardships demanded of a patriot. (16) We must push to the front education. (17) Otherwise we only make a success of letters, but do not create a bulwark of patriots...

Which of the following best describes the tone of this passage?

Possible Answers:

argumentative 

woeful

lamenting

insistent 

Correct answer:

insistent 

Explanation:

The word that best describes the tone of this passage is "insistent" since he repeatedly notes that there is "no grander or more pressing work" than educating the peasantry. The author does not appear woeful or lamenting, both of which imply sorrow, grief, or disappointment. The author also displays no evidence of being argumentative.

Example Question #8 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Social Science Passages

Passage adapted from Friedrich Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil (1886).

A species originates, and a type becomes established and strong in the long struggle with essentially constant unfavourable conditions. On the other hand, it is known by the experience of breeders that species which receive superabundant nourishment, and in general a surplus of protection and care, immediately tend in the most marked way to develop variations... Now look at an aristocratic commonwealth, say an ancient Greek polis, or Venice, as a voluntary or involuntary contrivance for the purpose of rearing human beings; there are there men beside one another thrown upon their own resources, who want to make their species prevail, chiefly because they must prevail, or else run the terrible danger of being exterminated. The favour, the superabundance, the protection are there lacking under which variations are fostered; the species needs itself as species, as something which, precisely by virtue of its hardness, its uniformity, and simplicity of structure, can in general prevail and make itself permanent in constant struggle with its neighbors, or with rebellious or rebellion-threatening vassals. The most varied experience teaches it what are the qualities to which it principally owes the fact that it still exists, in spite of all Gods and men, and has hitherto been victorious: these qualities it calls virtues, and these virtues alone it develops to maturity. It does so with severity, indeed it desires severity; every aristocratic morality is intolerant in the education of youth, in the control of women, in the marriage customs, in the relations of old and young, in the penal laws (which have an eye only for the degenerating): it counts intolerance itself among the virtues, under the name of “justice.” A type with few, but very marked features, a species of severe, warlike, wisely silent, reserved and reticent men… is thus established, unaffected by the vicissitudes of generations; the constant struggle with uniform unfavourable conditions is, as already remarked, the cause of a type becoming stable and hard. Finally, however, a happy state of things results, the enormous tension is relaxed; there are perhaps no more enemies among the neighboring peoples, and the means of life, even of the enjoyment of life, are preset in superabundance. With one stroke the bond and constraint of the old discipline severs: it is no longer regarded as necessary, as a condition of existence— if it would continue, it can only do so as a form of luxury, as an archaising taste. Variations, whether they be deviations (into the higher, finer, and rarer), or deterioration and  monstrosities, appear suddenly on the scene in the greatest exuberance and splendor; the individual dares to be individual and detach himself. At this turning-point of history there manifest themselves, side by side, and often mixed and entangled together, a magnificent, manifold, virgin-forest-like up-growth and up-striving, a kind of tropical tempo in the rivalry of growth, and an extraordinary decay and self-destruction, owing to the savagery opposing and seemingly exploding egoisms, which strive with one another “for sun and light,” and can no longer assign any limit, restraint, or forebearance for themselves by means of the hitherto existing morality…

Which of the following best describes the tone of this passage?

Possible Answers:

Reflective 

Whimsical

Argumentative 

Puerile

Placating 

Correct answer:

Reflective 

Explanation:

The tone of this passage is best described as reflective, as the author, although making a persuasive case regarding commonwealths and the development of species, primarily offers a philosophical reflection on states of being and development. The author is not "argumentative," as he is not expressing opposition to another person or idea, nor is he "placating" because he is not reassuring or mollifying the reader. "Whimsical" would only be an appropriate answer choice if the passage was amusing in some way. 

Example Question #9 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Social Science Passages

Passage adapted from Friedrich Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil (1886).

A species originates, and a type becomes established and strong in the long struggle with essentially constant unfavourable conditions. On the other hand, it is known by the experience of breeders that species which receive superabundant nourishment, and in general a surplus of protection and care, immediately tend in the most marked way to develop variations... Now look at an aristocratic commonwealth, say an ancient Greek polis, or Venice, as a voluntary or involuntary contrivance for the purpose of rearing human beings; there are there men beside one another thrown upon their own resources, who want to make their species prevail, chiefly because they must prevail, or else run the terrible danger of being exterminated. The favour, the superabundance, the protection are there lacking under which variations are fostered; the species needs itself as species, as something which, precisely by virtue of its hardness, its uniformity, and simplicity of structure, can in general prevail and make itself permanent in constant struggle with its neighbors, or with rebellious or rebellion-threatening vassals. The most varied experience teaches it what are the qualities to which it principally owes the fact that it still exists, in spite of all Gods and men, and has hitherto been victorious: these qualities it calls virtues, and these virtues alone it develops to maturity. It does so with severity, indeed it desires severity; every aristocratic morality is intolerant in the education of youth, in the control of women, in the marriage customs, in the relations of old and young, in the penal laws (which have an eye only for the degenerating): it counts intolerance itself among the virtues, under the name of “justice.” A type with few, but very marked features, a species of severe, warlike, wisely silent, reserved and reticent men… is thus established, unaffected by the vicissitudes of generations; the constant struggle with uniform unfavourable conditions is, as already remarked, the cause of a type becoming stable and hard. Finally, however, a happy state of things results, the enormous tension is relaxed; there are perhaps no more enemies among the neighboring peoples, and the means of life, even of the enjoyment of life, are preset in superabundance. With one stroke the bond and constraint of the old discipline severs: it is no longer regarded as necessary, as a condition of existence— if it would continue, it can only do so as a form of luxury, as an archaising taste. Variations, whether they be deviations (into the higher, finer, and rarer), or deterioration and  monstrosities, appear suddenly on the scene in the greatest exuberance and splendor; the individual dares to be individual and detach himself. At this turning-point of history there manifest themselves, side by side, and often mixed and entangled together, a magnificent, manifold, virgin-forest-like up-growth and up-striving, a kind of tropical tempo in the rivalry of growth, and an extraordinary decay and self-destruction, owing to the savagery opposing and seemingly exploding egoisms, which strive with one another “for sun and light,” and can no longer assign any limit, restraint, or forebearance for themselves by means of the hitherto existing morality…

Which of the following best describe the author's attitude toward variations?

Possible Answers:

Nietzsche believes that variations enable individual striving and fulfillment

Nietzsche believes that variations occur when a species is struggling to survive

Nietzsche believes that variations are a capitalist construct

Nietzsche believes that all variations are monstrosities  

Nietzsche believes that variations make a species weaker 

Correct answer:

Nietzsche believes that variations enable individual striving and fulfillment

Explanation:

Nietzsche believes that variations enable individual striving, as evidenced by his comment that "Variations... appear suddenly on the scene in the greatest exuberance and splendor; the individual dares to be individual and detach himself. At this turning-point of history there manifest themselves, side by side, and often mixed and entangled together, a magnificent, manifold, virgin-forest-like up-growth and up-striving," although Nietzsche does not believe that up-striving of the individual are necessarily positive for the species. The author's notation that "Variations, whether they be deviations (into the higher, finer, and rarer), or deterioration and  monstrosities..." indicates that Nietzsche does not believe that all variations are monstrosities or that all variations make a species weaker. Nietzsche did not believe that variation occurred in species struggling to survive, but rather that "species which receive superabundant nourishment, and in general a surplus of protection and care, immediately tend in the most marked way to develop variations."

Example Question #10 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Social Science Passages

Passage adapted from “Why We Are Militant” by Emmeline Pankhurst (1913)

I know that in your minds there are questions like these; you are saying, "Woman Suffrage is sure to come; the emancipation of humanity is an evolutionary process, and how is it that some women, instead of trusting to that evolution, instead of educating the masses of people of their country, instead of educating their own sex to prepare them for citizenship, how is it that these militant women are using violence and upsetting the business arrangements of the country in their undue impatience to attain their end?"

…Well, I say that the time is long past when it became necessary for women to revolt in order to maintain their self respect in Great Britain. The women who are waging this war are women who would fight, if it were only for the idea of liberty— if it were only that they might be free citizens of a free country— I myself would fight for that idea alone. But we have, in addition to this love of freedom, intolerable grievances to redress.

We do not feel the weight of those grievances in our own persons. I think it is very true that people who are crushed by personal wrongs are not the right people to fight for reform. The people who can fight best who have happy lives themselves, the fortunate ones. At any rate, in our revolution it is the happy women, the fortunate women, the women who have drawn prizes in the lucky bag of life, in the shape of good fathers, good husbands and good brothers, they are the women who are fighting this battle. They are fighting it for the sake of others more helpless than themselves, and it is of the grievances of those helpless ones that I want to say a few words to-night to make you understand the meaning of our campaign…

Those grievances are so pressing that, so far from it being a duty to be patient and to wait for evolution, in thinking of those grievances the idea of patience is intolerable. We feel that patience is something akin to crime when our patience involves continued suffering on the part of the oppressed.

…All my life I have tried to understand why it is that men who value their citizenship as their dearest possession seem to think citizenship ridiculous when it is to be applied to the women of their race. And I find an explanation, and it is the only one I can think of. It came to me when I was in a prison cell, remembering how I had seen men laugh at the idea of women going to prison… to men women are not human beings like themselves. Some men think we are superhuman; they put us on pedestals; they revere us; they think we are too fine and too delicate to come down into the hurly-burly of life. Other men think us sub-human; they think we are a strange species unfortunately having to exist for the perpetuation of the race. They think that we are fit for drudgery, but that in some strange way our minds are not like theirs, our love for great things is not like theirs, and so we are a sort of sub-human species. 

Which of the following best describes the tone of the passage?

Possible Answers:

Reverent

Whimsical

Exigent

Pessimistic

Correct answer:

Exigent

Explanation:

The tone of this passage is best described as exigent, which is urgent and demanding. Whimsical (fanciful/amusing) is not appropriate because of the gravity of the situation Pankurst discusses, and the author does not indicate reverence (solemn respect) for anything discussed in the passage. Finally, the author, although expressing urgency, is not pessimistic about the issue or the possibilities she sees for positive change.

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