LSAT Reading : Must Be True in Humanities Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for LSAT Reading

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

Example Question #132 : Humanities

Adapted from Mysticism, Logic, and Other Essays by Bertrand Russell (1917)

When we try to ascertain the motives which have led men to the investigation of philosophical questions, we find that, broadly speaking, they can be divided into two groups, often antagonistic, and leading to very divergent systems. These two groups of motives are, on the one hand, those derived from religion and ethics, and, on the other hand, those derived from science. Plato, Spinoza, and Hegel may be taken as typical of the philosophers whose interests are mainly religious and ethical, while Leibniz, Locke, and Hume may be taken as representatives of the scientific wing. In Aristotle, Descartes, Berkeley, and Kant we find both groups of motives strongly present.

Herbert Spencer, in whose honor we are assembled today, would naturally be classed among scientific philosophers; it was mainly from science that he drew his data, his formulation of problems, and his conception of method. But his strong religious sense is obvious in much of his writing, and his ethical preoccupations are what make him value the conception of evolution—that conception in which, as a whole generation has believed, science and morals are to be united in fruitful and indissoluble marriage.

It is my belief that the ethical and religious motives, in spite of the splendidly imaginative systems to which they have given rise, have been, on the whole, a hindrance to the progress of philosophy, and ought now to be consciously thrust aside by those who wish to discover philosophical truth. Science, originally, was entangled in similar motives, and was thereby hindered in its advances. It is, I maintain, from science, rather than from ethics and religion, that philosophy should draw its inspiration.

But there are two different ways in which a philosophy may seek to base itself upon science. It may emphasize the most general results of science, and seek to give even greater generality and unity to these results. Or it may study the methods of science, and seek to apply these methods, with the necessary adaptations, to its own peculiar province. Much philosophy inspired by science has gone astray through preoccupation with the results momentarily supposed to have been achieved. It is not results, but methods that can be transferred with profit from the sphere of the special sciences to the sphere of philosophy. What I wish to bring to your notice is the possibility and importance of applying to philosophical problems certain broad principles of method which have been found successful in the study of scientific questions.

The opposition between a philosophy guided by scientific method and a philosophy dominated by religious and ethical ideas may be illustrated by two notions which are very prevalent in the works of philosophers, namely the notion of the universe, and the notion of good and evil. A philosopher is expected to tell us something about the nature of the universe as a whole, and to give grounds for either optimism or pessimism. Both these expectations seem to me mistaken. I believe the conception of "the universe" to be, as its etymology indicates, a mere relic of pre-Copernican astronomy, and I believe the question of optimism and pessimism to be one which the philosopher will regard as outside his scope, except, possibly, to the extent of maintaining that it is insoluble.

Based on the passage, which of the following is true?

Possible Answers:

Only scientific philosophers are expected to tell us something about the nature of the universe.

While many believe that evolution represents a successful combination of science and ethics, the author would likely disagree with this view.

Science has experienced the same sort of setbacks in recent years as religion has during the past.

Scientific results are remarkably useful when applied to the sphere of philosophy.

A number of philosophers cannot be classed as either being motivated by science or as being motivated by ethics and religion.

Correct answer:

While many believe that evolution represents a successful combination of science and ethics, the author would likely disagree with this view.

Explanation:

We can figure out the correct answer by considering each answer choice carefully. "Only scientific philosophers are expected to tell us something about the nature of the universe" is incorrect because the passage says, "A philosopher is expected to tell us something about the nature of the universe as a whole," and does not differentiate between scientifically-motivated and religiously-motivated philosophers in describing this expectation. "Scientific results are remarkably useful when applied to the sphere of philosophy" is incorrect because in the fourth paragraph, the author argues that "Much philosophy inspired by science has gone astray through preoccupation with the results momentarily supposed to have been achieved." "A number of philosophers cannot be classed as either being motivated by science or as being motivated by ethics and religion" is incorrect because in the first paragraph, the author claims that "broadly speaking, [philosophers] can be divided into two groups . . . those derived from religion and ethics, and . . . those derived from science." While the author continues by mentioning that certain philosophers fall into both of these groups, no mention is made of a significant number of philosophers falling outside these two groups entirely. "Science has experienced the same sort of setbacks in recent years as religion has during the past" is entirely unsupported by the passage, as at no point does the author compare setbacks experienced by science to setbacks experienced by religion; he blames the first on religious influence and urges the second.

Eliminating all of these answer choices leaves us with the correct answer, "While many believe that evolution represents a successful combination of science and ethics, the author would likely disagree with this view." This answer is supported by the last sentence of paragraph two, "[Herbert Spencer's] ethical preoccupations are what make him value the conception of evolution—that conception in which, as a whole generation has believed, science and morals are to be united in fruitful and indissoluble marriage." We can infer based on the author's view as explained in the rest of the passage that he would not agree that science and morals can be successfully united, as he sees religious and moral influences as hindering scientific philosophical enquiry and the proponents of each camp as "often antagonistic."

Example Question #133 : Humanities

"Perspective" by William Floyd (2015)

In the visual arts, “perspective” describes creating a two-dimensional image which has the illusion of depth and shading to make it appear like a three-dimensional image. The ability to paint with perspective was a Renaissance idea, when painters such as Jan van Eyck and Leonardo da Vinci created scenes which had a revolutionary look, particularly as compared to the notably flat medieval paintings of earlier artists. These reflected life in a way that it was thought painting could never hope to achieve. The question that obviously arises from this revolution in painting is why the artists of the middle ages felt so comfortable with their lack of such perspective.

The fifteenth century Italian painter and Dominican friar born Guido Pietri was dubbed Fra Beato Angleico, which in English is “the Blessed Angelic Friar,” for the way he captured the imagination of his contemporaries. While he painted less than a century before da Vinci, Fra Angelico appears to belong to a different tradition entirely, with a completely different aesthetic sense. His portraits are oddly formal, while his crowd scenes are so busy as to be overwhelming. To look at his “Annunciation of the Virgin” or “Last Judgement” is to see a painting which is almost too flat and busy, necessitating a careful look at each element, moving across the painting, rather than being able to take in the entire scene of the painting at once.

Which might be the actual expectation of a medieval painter. Any scene with a dozen saints has such precision in the portrayal of each saint, who has to be recognizable to every worshipful person viewing it, that it requires an up close view of every single element. Additionally, the subject matter is presented in such a way as to make the viewer move from left to right. This essentially means that a medieval viewer “read” a painting as much as they viewed it. Each element was a self-contained piece which needed to be viewed in a specific order. Rather than conveying one scene, the painting was actually more of a storytelling device. Naturally, the time of perspective was also the time the printing press brought widespread literacy to Europe. With more people being able to read a text, a painting had less need to function as a text itself, making a revolution in painting a necessity for the genre.

Which of the following statements must be true based on the information provided in the passage?

Possible Answers:

Renaissance artists had no regard for the work of medieval artists.

Very few technical innovations have been made in painting since the Renaissance era.

Medieval artists were far inferior to Renaissance artists in terms of technical ability.

Medieval art often depicted religious themes and subjects.

Perspective was only widely used by painters during the Renaissance era.

Correct answer:

Medieval art often depicted religious themes and subjects.

Explanation:

The majority of the passage is devoted to comparing medieval and Renaissance art, with little discussion of other eras. The main descriptors of the details in medieval art, noted by the author as signature elements, including images of saints and the Virgin Mary, which were viewed by "worshipful" people, indicating a widespread use of religious themes.

Example Question #134 : Humanities

Passage adapted from Edgehill: The Battle and Battlefield (1904), by Edwin Walford.

The reign of King Charles I. showed a widening of the difference between the ecclesiastic and puritan elements of the English community—elements which were the centers of the subsequently enlarged sections, royalist and parliamentarian. In the later dissentions between the King and the Commons it was early apparent how widespread had been the alienation of the people from the King’s cause—an alienation heightened, as Green in his “Short History” tells us, by a fear that the spirit of Roman Catholicism, so victorious on the continent, should once more become dominant in England. How great was the tension may be known from the fact of the contemplated emigration to the American colonies of such leaders as Lord Saye and Sele, Lord Warwick, Lord Brooke, and Sir John Hampden and Oliver Cromwell. When the rupture at last came, the Parliament was found to have secured the larger arsenals, and also to have forces at its disposal in the trained bands of London and in the militia, which it was enabled rapidly to enroll. Though the unfurling of the Royal Standard near Nottingham failed to secure many adherents to the King’s cause, Essex hesitated to attack the royalists when they might have been easily dispersed, thinking no doubt to overawe the King by mere show of force. Yet when Charles began recruiting in the neighborhood of Shrewsbury, he was soon able to gather an army, and on October 12th, 1642, he commenced his march upon London. The astute and carefully moderate policy of the Commons was to rescue the King from his surroundings, and to destroy the enemies, especially the foreign enemies, of the State, about the King’s person. The sanctity of the King’s person was yet a prominent factor—the belief in divinity of Kingship, notwithstanding all the misrule there had been, was yet alive in the hearts of the people. Therefore when the King had gathered his forces together and began his Southward march, Lord Essex with his army was commissioned “to march against his Majesties Army and fight with them, and to rescue the persons of the King, Prince and Duke of York.” The Earl of Essex, with the Parliamentarian forces, was at that time in Worcestershire, endeavoring to prevent the recruiting of the King’s troops; and though the Earl moved two days later on by rapid marches into Warwickshire, it was only to find that he had been out-marched by the King, who, after resting at Southam, stood with the Royalist army at Edgcot across the way to the capital. That this had been accomplished, notwithstanding the opposition of the strongholds of Warwick and Coventry, speaks not unfavorably for the generalship of Earl Lindsay, the King’s Lieutenant-General, whom we find at Edgcot contemplating an attack upon Banbury Castle. The King’s was a good position: it commanded all the roads to London, held Banbury in its hand, covered the Cherwell bridge and fords, and had within touch the dominating escarpment of Edge Hill. If the purpose was the subjection of some prominent leaders of the Parliamentarians it succeeded only in the taking of Lord Saye and Sele’s house at Broughton, and of Banbury, and Banbury Castle; in the partial destruction of Lord Spencer’s house at Wormleighton, and in sending a summons to Warwick Castle to surrender.

Which of the following statements must be true based on the information presented in the passage?

Possible Answers:

The Parliament was not able to amass any force that could withstand the Royalist forces.

The Parliamentarian side had few real complaints and was instead seeking a simple power grab.

The Parliamentarian forces found many of King Charles I's actions highly objectionable.

The Parliamentary forces were far superior in terms of military leadership and strategy.

The Parliamentary forces were largely composed of non-professional soldiers who had no regard for military convention.

Correct answer:

The Parliamentarian forces found many of King Charles I's actions highly objectionable.

Explanation:

The fact-based approach of the passage does not allow for many extrapolations to be made beyond what is contained in the passage. The information given about the Parliamentary forces in the passage is largely that they were able to muster a significant force based on a series of grievances and problems with the rule of King Charles I.

Example Question #135 : Humanities

"Ed Sullivan and All the Rest" by William Floyd (2015)

Modern television talk shows center on the host, with the guests as a side dish that still accentuates the main entrée of the funny person at the center of the spectacle. Their forerunners were on television as early as television was in American homes, scene stealers such as Steve Allen and Jack Parr making even the most famous celebrities play inside their world. At the same time, though, one man showed how a television show could highlight a variety of performers, from the remarkable to the mundane and the famous to the unknown. If more television shows operated like “The Ed Sullivan Show,” maybe television would be less ego centric.

Ed Sullivan began his career before World War II as an entertainment and sports reporter, gaining his first significant notoriety as a celebrity maker for his gossip column in the New York Daily News. This influential position led him to be chosen as the host of “The Toast of the Town,” a variety show on CBS, in 1948. He was awkward on camera and made no effort to be a schmoozer or comedian. Despite his awkwardness, Ed Sullivan became a household name, with his show first informally and then officially being known as “The Ed Sullivan Show.” No one cared about watching Sullivan himself, but rather what Sullivan presented to his audience each week. Sullivan was a force behind the scenes, putting together the show that everyone wanted to watch each week.

The genius of Sullivan’s show was that it was truly a variety show. Sullivan made sure to show his audience ballet and opera selections, yet also never shied away from presenting Rock n Roll acts on his prestigious time slot. He was also a key benefactor for a number of young comedians, who would present their usual stand-up routines free of comment in front of a national audience. Naturally, the Beatles were not actually big in America until they had gotten the Sullivan anointment, but many other acts could credit Sullivan with a breakthrough. Considering the time he was on the air, 1948 to 1971, Sullivan made twentieth century American popular culture. With the fragmentation of culture through cable, the internet, and streaming services, no one can ever hope to have the same impact as a man described as having the personality of an Easter Island statue.

Based on the information in the passage, which of the following statements must be true?

Possible Answers:

Steve Allen and Jack Parr were much more popular than Ed Sullivan

Ed Sullivan came to television after Steve Allen and Jack Parr were already successful

CBS was not a major network in the early history of television

Ed Sullivan remained hugely influential for decades after his show had gone off the air

Television was not a very popular form of entertainment until after World War II

Correct answer:

Television was not a very popular form of entertainment until after World War II

Explanation:

The author discusses Ed Sullivan's career as being based in newspapers and the radio before World War II, then notes that early in television's popularity Ed Sullivan moved to television with "The Talk of the Town." This indicates that television was not widely used as a form of entertainment before World War II.

Example Question #136 : Humanities

Passage adapted from Shakespearean Playhouses (1917) by Joseph Quincy Adams.

Before the building of regular playhouses, the itinerant troupes of actors were accustomed, except when received into private homes, to give their performances in any place that chance provided, such as open street-squares, barns, town-halls, moot-courts, schoolhouses, churches, and—most frequently of all, perhaps—the yards of inns. These yards, especially those of carriers' inns, were admirably suited to dramatic representations, consisting as they did of a large open court surrounded by two or more galleries. Many examples of such inn-yards are still to be seen in various parts of England... In the yard a temporary platform—a few boards, it may be, set on barrel-heads—could be erected for a stage; in the adjacent stables a dressing-room could be provided for the actors; the rabble—always the larger and more enthusiastic part of the audience—could be accommodated with standing-room about the stage; while the more aristocratic members of the audience could be comfortably seated in the galleries overhead. Thus a ready-made and very serviceable theatre was always at the command of the players; and it seems to have been frequently made use of from the very beginning of professionalism in acting.

One of the earliest extant moralities, Mankind, acted by strollers in the latter half of the fifteenth century, gives us an interesting glimpse of an inn-yard performance. The opening speech makes distinct reference to the two classes of the audience described above as occupying the galleries and the yard:

"O ye sovereigns that sit, and ye brothers that stand right up."

The "brothers," indeed, seem to have stood up so closely about the stage that the actors had great difficulty in passing to and from their dressing-room. Thus, Nowadays leaves the stage with the request:

“Make space, sirs, let me go out!”

New Gyse enters with the threat:

“Out of my way, sirs, for dread of a beating!”

While Nought, with even less respect, shouts:

“Avaunt, knaves! Let me go by!”

Language such as this would hardly be appropriate if addressed to the "sovereigns" who sat in the galleries above; but, as addressed to the "brothers," it probably served to create a general feeling of good nature. And a feeling of good nature was desirable, for the actors were facing the difficult problem of inducing the audience to pay for its entertainment.

Which of the following statements must be true based on the information presented in the passage?

Possible Answers:

Actors were often from the higher social classes in fifteenth century society.

Playwrights of the fifteenth century rarely acknowledged the nature of their audiences during their plays.

Theater performances in the fifteenth century were rarely attended by the wealthier members of society.

Actors in the fifteenth century were trained to largely ignore the audience and focus on their performances.

There was a clear social divide between the wealthy members of society and the general crowd in the fifteenth century.

Correct answer:

There was a clear social divide between the wealthy members of society and the general crowd in the fifteenth century.

Explanation:

The author clearly describes the way in which even impromptu performance spaces in the fifteenth century required for the different classes of society to sit in separate sections. This shows that the society of the era was highly segmented with a clear divide between the different social classes.

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors

Incompatible Browser

Please upgrade or download one of the following browsers to use Instant Tutoring: