LSAT Reading : Organization and Structure in Humanities Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for LSAT Reading

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Example Question #1 : Organization And Structure In Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Breckenridge Carnegie (1915)

Our English has changed with the years so that many words now connote more than they did originally. This is true of the word "monotonous." From having but one tone, it has come to mean more broadly, lack of variation.

The monotonous speaker not only drones along in the same volume and pitch of tone, but uses always the same emphasis, the same speed, the same thoughts—or dispenses with thought altogether.

Monotony, the cardinal and most common sin of the public speaker, is not a transgression—it is rather a sin of omission.

Emerson says, "The virtue of art lies in detachment, in sequestering one object from the embarrassing variety." That is just what the monotonous speaker fails to do—he does not detach one thought or phrase from another; they are all expressed in the same manner.

To tell you that your speech is monotonous may mean very little to you, so let us look at the nature—and the curse—of monotony in other spheres of life, then we shall appreciate more fully how it will blight an otherwise good speech.

If the Victrola in the adjoining apartment grinds out just three selections over and over again, it is pretty safe to assume that your neighbor has no other records. If a speaker uses only a few of his powers, it points very plainly to the fact that the rest of his powers are not developed. Monotony reveals our limitations.

In its effect on its victim, monotony is actually deadly—it will drive the bloom from the cheek and the luster from the eye as quickly as sin, and often leads to viciousness. The worst punishment that human ingenuity has ever been able to invent is extreme monotony—solitary confinement. Lay a marble on the table and do nothing eighteen hours of the day but change that marble from one point to another and back again, and you will go insane if you continue long enough.

The author begins the passage with the changing definition of "monotony" in order to __________.

Possible Answers:

reinforce the idea in the reader's mind that monotony is the largest problem public speakers face

make a larger point about the way that language changes in history

confuse the reader as to the real meaning of the word "monotony"

draw the reader back to the older definition of monotony

create a sense of mystery about the real meaning of monotony

Correct answer:

reinforce the idea in the reader's mind that monotony is the largest problem public speakers face

Explanation:

The author begins with a point about how "monotony" has changed meaning over time, and then launches into a discourse about the way "monotony" plagues many public speakers. This means that the use of the historical definition of monotony is placed first in this passage in order to set the reader up regarding the author's arguments about monotony.

Example Question #2 : Organization And Structure In Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Breckenridge Carnegie (1915)

Our English has changed with the years so that many words now connote more than they did originally. This is true of the word "monotonous." From having but one tone, it has come to mean more broadly, lack of variation.

The monotonous speaker not only drones along in the same volume and pitch of tone, but uses always the same emphasis, the same speed, the same thoughts—or dispenses with thought altogether.

Monotony, the cardinal and most common sin of the public speaker, is not a transgression—it is rather a sin of omission.

Emerson says, "The virtue of art lies in detachment, in sequestering one object from the embarrassing variety." That is just what the monotonous speaker fails to do—he does not detach one thought or phrase from another; they are all expressed in the same manner.

To tell you that your speech is monotonous may mean very little to you, so let us look at the nature—and the curse—of monotony in other spheres of life, then we shall appreciate more fully how it will blight an otherwise good speech.

If the Victrola in the adjoining apartment grinds out just three selections over and over again, it is pretty safe to assume that your neighbor has no other records. If a speaker uses only a few of his powers, it points very plainly to the fact that the rest of his powers are not developed. Monotony reveals our limitations.

In its effect on its victim, monotony is actually deadly—it will drive the bloom from the cheek and the luster from the eye as quickly as sin, and often leads to viciousness. The worst punishment that human ingenuity has ever been able to invent is extreme monotony—solitary confinement. Lay a marble on the table and do nothing eighteen hours of the day but change that marble from one point to another and back again, and you will go insane if you continue long enough.

Which of the following is the best reason as to why the author quotes Emerson?

Possible Answers:

To use Emerson as a building block for public speaking

To demean Emerson as a thinker and author

To counter a point made by Emerson

To further develop a point originally made by Emerson

To lend an air of credibility to his own point

Correct answer:

To lend an air of credibility to his own point

Explanation:

The quotation from Emerson that the author uses is one that he immediately agrees with, backing up Emerson's notion of "detachment" from the usual. The author's direct use of one of Emerson's phrases indicates that he is invoking Emerson as a respectable authority, whose agreement with the author's point lends credibility to that point.

Example Question #3 : Organization And Structure In Humanities Passages

Adapted from A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge by George Berkeley (1710)

1. OBJECTS OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE. It is evident to anyone who takes a survey of the objects of human knowledge, that they are either IDEAS actually imprinted on the senses; or else such as are perceived by attending to the passions and operations of the mind; or lastly, ideas formed by help of memory and imagination—either compounding, dividing, or barely representing those originally perceived in the aforesaid ways. By sight I have the ideas of light and colors, with their several degrees and variations. By touch I perceive hard and soft, heat and cold, motion and resistance, and of all these more and less either as to quantity or degree. Smelling furnishes me with odors; the palate with tastes; and hearing conveys sounds to the mind in all their variety of tone and composition. And as several of these are observed to accompany each other, they come to be marked by one name, and so to be reputed as one thing. Thus, for example, a certain color, taste, smell, figure and consistence having been observed to go together, are accounted one distinct thing, signified by the name APPLE. Other collections of ideas constitute a stone, a tree, a book, and the like sensible things, which as they are pleasing or disagreeable excite the passions of love, hatred, joy, grief, and so forth.

2. MIND--SPIRIT--SOUL. But, besides all that endless variety of ideas or objects of knowledge, there is likewise something which knows or perceives them, and exercises diverse operations as willing, imagining, and remembering about them. This perceiving, active being is what I call MIND, SPIRIT, SOUL, or MYSELF, by which words I do not denote any one of my ideas, but a thing entirely distinct from them, WHEREIN THEY EXIST, or, which is the same thing, whereby they are perceived—for the existence of an idea consists in being perceived.

3. HOW FAR THE ASSENT OF THE VULGAR CONCEDED. That neither our thoughts, nor passions, nor ideas formed by the imagination, exist WITHOUT the mind, is what EVERYBODY WILL ALLOW. And it seems no less evident that the various sensations or ideas imprinted on the sense, however blended or combined together (that is, whatever objects they compose), cannot exist otherwise than IN a mind perceiving them. I think an intuitive knowledge may be obtained of this by any one that shall attend to WHAT IS MEANT BY THE TERM "EXIST," when applied to sensible things. The table I write on I say exists—that is, I see and feel it—and if I were out of my study I should say it existed, meaning thereby that if I were in my study I might perceive it, or that some other spirit actually does perceive it. There was an odor, that is, it was smelt; there was a sound, that is, it was heard; a color or figure, and it was perceived by sight or touch. This is all that I can understand by these and the like expressions. For as to what is said of the absolute existence of unthinking things without any relation to their being perceived, that seems perfectly unintelligible. Their ESSE is PERCIPI, nor is it possible they should have any existence out of the minds or thinking things which perceive them.

4. THE VULGAR OPINION INVOLVES A CONTRADICTION. It is indeed an opinion STRANGELY prevailing amongst men, that houses, mountains, rivers, and in a word all sensible objects, have an existence, natural or real, distinct from their being perceived by the understanding. But, with how great an assurance and acquiescence soever this principle may be entertained in the world, yet whoever shall find in his heart to call it in question may, if I mistake not, perceive it to involve a manifest contradiction. For, what are the fore-mentioned objects but the things we perceive by sense? And what do we PERCEIVE BESIDES OUR OWN IDEAS OR SENSATIONS? And is it not plainly repugnant that any one of these, or any combination of them, should exist unperceived?

5. CAUSE OF THIS PREVALENT ERROR. If we thoroughly examine this tenet it will, perhaps, be found at bottom to depend on the doctrine of ABSTRACT IDEAS. For can there be a nicer strain of abstraction than to distinguish the existence of sensible objects from their being perceived, so as to conceive them existing unperceived? Light and colors, heat and cold, extension and figures—in a word, the things we see and feel—what are they but so many sensations, notions, ideas, or impressions on the sense? And is it possible to separate, even in thought, any of these from perception? For my part, I might as easily divide a thing from itself. I may, indeed, divide in my thoughts, or conceive apart from each other, those things which, perhaps, I never perceived by sense so divided. Thus, I imagine the trunk of a human body without the limbs, or conceive the smell of a rose without thinking on the rose itself. So far, I will not deny, I can abstract—if that may properly be called ABSTRACTION which extends only to the conceiving separately such objects as it is possible may really exist or be actually perceived asunder. But my conceiving or imagining power does not extend beyond the possibility of real existence or perception. Hence, as it is impossible for me to see or feel anything without an actual sensation of that thing, so is it impossible for me to conceive in my thoughts any sensible thing or object distinct from the sensation or perception of it.

Which of the following is an apt description of the author's assessment of emotions in the passage?

Possible Answers:

Off-topic

Simply spurious

Extremely complex

Extensive

Brief and lacking detail

Correct answer:

Brief and lacking detail

Explanation:

The author does not fully address emotions in the passage; he only mentions emotions when he says at the end of the first paragraph, “Other collections of ideas constitute a stone, a tree, a book, and the like sensible things, which as they are pleasing or disagreeable excite the passions of love, hatred, joy, grief, and so forth." In relation to the rest of the passage, this is perhaps the briefest address of any subject mentioned. The use of the phrase “and so forth” emphasizes how brief the assessment of emotions is, as if they may undermine his argument.

Example Question #4 : Organization And Structure In Humanities Passages

Adapted from An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals by David Hume (1777)

We may observe that, in displaying the praises of any humane, beneficent man, there is one circumstance that never fails to be amply insisted on, namely, the happiness and satisfaction derived to society from his intercourse and good offices. To his parents, we are apt to say, he endears himself by his pious attachment and duteous care still more than by the connections of nature. His children never feel his authority but when employed for their advantage. With him, the ties of love are consolidated by beneficence and friendship. The ties of friendship approach, in a fond observance of each obliging office, to those of love and inclination. His domestics and dependents have in him a sure resource and no longer dread the power of fortune but so far as she exercises it over him. From him the hungry receive food, the naked clothing, the ignorant and slothful skill and industry. Like the sun, an inferior minister of providence he cheers, invigorates, and sustains the surrounding world.

If confined to private life, the sphere of his activity is narrower, but his influence is all benign and gentle. If exalted into a higher station, mankind and posterity reap the fruit of his labors.

As these topics of praise never fail to be employed, and with success, where we would inspire esteem for any one, may it not thence be concluded that the utility resulting from the social virtues forms at least a PART of their merit, and is one source of that approbation and regard so universally paid to them?

When we recommend even an animal or a plant as USEFUL and BENEFICIAL, we give it an applause and recommendation suited to its nature. As, on the other hand, reflection on the baneful influence of any of these inferior beings always inspires us with the sentiment of aversion. The eye is pleased with the prospect of corn fields and loaded vineyards, horses grazing, and flocks pasturing, but flies the view of briars and brambles, affording shelter to wolves and serpents.

A machine, a piece of furniture, a vestment, a house well contrived for use and convenience, is so far beautiful, and is contemplated with pleasure and approbation. An experienced eye is here sensible to many excellencies, which escape persons ignorant and uninstructed.

Can anything stronger be said in praise of a profession, such as merchandize or manufacture, than to observe the advantages which it procures to society? And is not a monk and inquisitor enraged when we treat his order as useless or pernicious to mankind?

The historian exults in displaying the benefit arising from his labors. The writer of romance alleviates or denies the bad consequences ascribed to his manner of composition.

In general, what praise is implied in the simple epithet USEFUL! What reproach in the contrary!

Your Gods, says Cicero [De Nat. Deor. lib. i.], in opposition to the Epicureans, cannot justly claim any worship or adoration, with whatever imaginary perfections you may suppose them endowed. They are totally useless and inactive. Even the Egyptians, whom you so much ridicule, never consecrated any animal but on account of its utility.

The skeptics assert [Sext. Emp. adrersus Math. lib. viii.], though absurdly, that the origin of all religious worship was derived from the utility of inanimate objects, as the sun and moon, to the support the well-being of mankind. This is also the common reason assigned by historians, for the deification of eminent heroes and legislators [Diod. Sic. passim.].

To plant a tree, to cultivate a field, to beget children—meritorious acts, according to the religion of Zoroaster.

In all determinations of morality, this circumstance of public utility is ever principally in view; and wherever disputes arise, either in philosophy or common life, concerning the bounds of duty, the question cannot, by any means, be decided with greater certainty than by ascertaining, on any side, the true interests of mankind. If any false opinion, embraced from appearances, has been found to prevail, as soon as farther experience and sounder reasoning have given us more just notions of human affairs, we retract our first sentiment, and adjust anew the boundaries of moral good and evil.

Giving alms to common beggars is naturally praised because it seems to carry relief to the distressed and indigent, but when we observe the encouragement thence arising to idleness and debauchery, we regard that species of charity rather as a weakness than a virtue.

This passage is most likely __________.

Possible Answers:

a chapter describing good behavior

an introduction to a greater text on religion

an introduction to a wider topic

a section from the middle of a greater discourse

a small discourse on the importance of morals

Correct answer:

a section from the middle of a greater discourse

Explanation:

This is quite obviously a section from a greater discourse as it starts “We may observe,” suggesting the reader should already know about the subject matter at hand. The author is describing an observance about the beneficent man, but it appears that he has already discussed the topic with the reader. In addition to this, the argument is not ended at the end of the passage, as it seems that the author has made little conclusion.

Example Question #5 : Organization And Structure In Humanities Passages

Adapted from "Belize" by Daniel Morrison (2014)

As an independent country, Belize has existed for little over thirty years, having achieved full autonomy from Britain in 1981. Thirty years is not a lot of time to develop a distinct cultural identity anywhere in the world, and in Belize, the situation is complicated by several factors. There is no dominant ethnic group; religion and language are far from homogenous; it is the only former English colony in Latin America, and it is seemingly closer to a Caribbean state than a Central American one, a situation that is not helped by the tension that exists between Belize and Guatemala. Without a homogenous culture, Belizean national identity is hard to define, particularly for an outsider.

The recent history of Belize gives significant insight into why this should be. The area was originally part of the great Mayan empire in Central America, but the Maya were in decline long before the arrival of Europeans. First, the Spanish came and settled much of the area around Belize, but due to a distinct absence of gold and silver, they largely ignored the territory of Belize itself. The first Europeans to occupy Belize in any significant number were English pirates—violent men who grew wealthy pillaging Spanish ships. But pirates by their very nature create transient communities; it would be English Puritans who were the first Europeans to settle Belize on a permanent basis. They sustained themselves on Belize’s fecund agricultural land and, following the introduction of sugar and the extensive logging of timber, eventually grew wealthy—wealthy enough to purchase slaves to do the bulk of the work for them. For one-hundred and fifty years, the economic system of slavery was dominant in Belize, but following the territory’s formal inclusion as a colony of Britain (called the British Honduras colony) in the 1840s, the institution of slavery was outlawed. 

By this time, however, two significant and long-lasting precedents had been set. The first was the cultural and ethnic diversity of Belize. The marriage of European colonials to freed slaves created a large mestizo population, and the country received influxes of immigrants from the Caribbean, Spanish-speaking refugees from Honduras and El Salvador during times of Civil War, and settlers from Taiwan and Hong Kong. The arrival of people of so many different ethnic backgrounds has only increased the significance of the second precedent, established in colonial times—namely the concentration of property ownership in the hands of foreigners.

At the height of the British Honduras colony, the wealth in Belize was entirely held by English and Scottish settlers, and native Belizeans were either engaged in open conflict with the crown or else forced into servitude and subjugation. The legacy has continued long past independence. In contemporary Belize, almost eighty percent of property and businesses are owned by outsiders. The English and Spanish have largely been replaced with Americans and Taiwanese, but the matter remains the same. What little wealth is produced in the nation is exported elsewhere, and those that live in Belize are often forced to rely exclusively on tourism. If Belizeans are unable to own their own property and to manage their own businesses, then national identity and cultural homogeny may have little opportunity to flourish.

And, yet, the experience of talking with the people in Belize belies these expectations. There are many people, of course, who have recently arrived in Belize and carry with them their culture, language, and customs. These people initially tend to stick to their small and distinct social groups. But, there is a growing tendency to integrate into the larger population. The majority of people are first- or second-generation independent Belizeans. Like people across the world who gained nationhood in the twentieth century, there is a distinct sense of sincere pride that would be hard to recognize in the overly ironic West. Belizeans—be they Maya, Garifuna, Honduran, Amish, Mestizo, or Taiwanese—believe in the future of their country. There is little doubt that the road ahead will be challenging, but there are causes for resilient optimism. Not least of these is Belize’s rich biodiversity and unmolested natural wonders that make it such a haven for naturalists and scientists from around the world. The future of Belize is likely to be one of continuous diversity, but like other former colonial nations like Brazil and the United States, Belizeans believe they can make a strength of it.

Which of these sentences could be most easily taken out of the sixth paragraph without altering the meaning of the whole paragraph?

Possible Answers:

"And, yet, the experience of talking with the people in Belize belies these expectations."

"Like people across the world who gained nationhood in the twentieth century, there is a distinct sense of sincere pride that would be hard to recognize in the overly ironic West."

"But, there is a growing tendency to integrate into the larger population."

“Not least of these is Belize’s rich biodiversity and unmolested natural wonders that make it such a haven for naturalists and scientists from around the world.” 

“There is little doubt that the road ahead will be challenging, but there are causes for resilient optimism.”

Correct answer:

“Not least of these is Belize’s rich biodiversity and unmolested natural wonders that make it such a haven for naturalists and scientists from around the world.” 

Explanation:

This type of question requires you to understand the overall impact of each sentence on the author’s argument and to process which piece of information is least relevant, or least critical to maintaining the cohesion of that argument. The answer choice “And, yet, the experience of talking with the people in Belize belies these expectations” could not very well be removed because it functions as a transition sentence and represents the changing tone and argument of the author. The answer choices "Like people across the world who gained nationhood in the twentieth century, there is a distinct sense of sincere pride that would be hard to recognize in the overly ironic West" and “There is little doubt that the road ahead will be challenging, but there are causes for resilient optimism" are designed to reinforce the feeling of optimism. The answer choice "But, there is a growing tendency to integrate into the larger population" is needed because without it, the author would be contradicting his argument. So, that leaves “Not least of these is Belize’s rich biodiversity and unmolested natural wonders that make it such a haven for naturalists and scientists from around the world” as the most expendable piece of information. This sentence is added almost as an aside, as an example of a cause for optimism, and the meaning of the paragraph as a whole would be least altered if it were omitted. 

Example Question #6 : Organization And Structure In Humanities Passages

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.

We can reasonably assume that this essay __________.

Possible Answers:

None of these answers can be inferred from the text.

would have been roundly condemned by the author’s audience

was issued in response to a growing faith in religious and ethical motives for scientific investigation

is part of a speech given in honor or memory of a fellow scientist

goes against the commonly held notions that existed in the scientific community at the time

Correct answer:

is part of a speech given in honor or memory of a fellow scientist

Explanation:

It is possible that this essay would have been condemned by the author's audience. It is also possible that it goes against the commonly held notions that existed in the scientific community at the time, especially as the author makes considerable effort to correct what he views as misguided notions. However, there is insufficient evidence in the text to reasonably assume that either of these answers is wholly accurate. The author seems to be speaking amid a body of contemporaries and we can only assume that they would have differed on their approaches and opinions, but some would have probably agreed with the author. It seems unlikely that this essay was issued in response to a growing faith in religious and ethical motivations because the author seems to discuss, particularly in the second and third paragraphs, how those motives still exist, but are waning in influence; the author merely urges that this waning continue and be encouraged. The only inference that can definitely be made is that this essay is part of a speech given in honor or memory of a fellow scientist. This we can infer from the second paragraph's first sentence, “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.”

Example Question #7 : Organization And Structure In Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Prince by Nicholas Machiavelli (1513; trans. Mariott 1908)

Having discoursed particularly on the characteristics of such principalities as in the beginning I proposed to discuss, and having considered in some degree the causes of their being good or bad, and having shown the methods by which many have sought to acquire them and to hold them, it now remains for me to discuss generally the means of offense and defense which belong to each of them.

We have seen above how necessary it is for a prince to have his foundations well laid, otherwise it follows of necessity he will go to ruin. The chief foundations of all states, new as well as old or composite, are good laws and good arms; and as there cannot be good laws where the state is not well armed, it follows that where they are well armed they have good laws. I shall leave the laws out of the discussion and shall speak of the arms.

I say, therefore, that the arms with which a prince defends his state are either his own, or they are mercenaries, auxiliaries, or mixed. Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited, ambitious, and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men, and destruction is deferred only so long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by the enemy. The fact is, they have no other attraction or reason for keeping the field than a trifle of stipend, which is not sufficient to make them willing to die for you. They are ready enough to be your soldiers whilst you do not make war, but if war comes they take themselves off or run from the foe; which I should have little trouble to prove, for the ruin of Italy has been caused by nothing else than by resting all her hopes for many years on mercenaries, and although they formerly made some display and appeared valiant amongst themselves, yet when the foreigners came they showed what they were. Thus it was that Charles, King of France, was allowed to seize Italy with chalk in hand; and he who told us that our sins were the cause of it told the truth, but they were not the sins he imagined, but those which I have related. And as they were the sins of princes, it is the princes who have also suffered the penalty.

I wish to demonstrate further the infelicity of these arms. The mercenary captains are either capable men or they are not; if they are, you cannot trust them, because they always aspire to their own greatness, either by oppressing you, who are their master, or others contrary to your intentions; but if the captain is not skillful, you are ruined in the usual way.

And if it be urged that whoever is armed will act in the same way, whether mercenary or not, I reply that when arms have to be resorted to, either by a prince or a republic, then the prince ought to go in person and perform the duty of a captain; the republic has to send its citizens, and when one is sent who does not turn out satisfactorily, it ought to recall him, and when one is worthy, to hold him by the laws so that he does not leave the command. And experience has shown princes and republics, single-handed, making the greatest progress, and mercenaries doing nothing except damage; and it is more difficult to bring a republic, armed with its own arms, under the sway of one of its citizens than it is to bring one armed with foreign arms. Rome and Sparta stood for many ages armed and free. The Swiss are completely armed and quite free. And so I say it is far more dangerous to be defended by mercenaries, than it is to be defended by soldiers of your own state.

This passage is most likely __________.

Possible Answers:

a continuation of a longer piece of advice on how best to govern a state

an excerpt from a guide for princes and religious leaders

a continuation of a longer dissertation on the impact of mercenary troops on the well-being of a state

an excerpt from a reminiscence on the author’s personal experience with mercenaries and armies

an excerpt from an article refuting claims made about the benefits of hiring mercenaries

Correct answer:

a continuation of a longer piece of advice on how best to govern a state

Explanation:

From the context of the introduction, we can infer that this passage is likely a continuation of a longer piece on how best to govern a state. The author states, “Having discoursed particularly on the characteristics of such principalities as in the beginning I proposed to discuss,” and also “We have seen above how necessary it is for a prince to have his foundations well laid.” Because the subject matter previously concerned the characteristics of principalities and the necessity for a prince to have his foundations well laid, we know that it cannot be solely a continuation of a longer dissertation about the impact of mercenary troops. Likewise, there is no evidence to suggest that this is from a guide for both princes and religious leaders because, aside from the occasional use of religious language, there is nothing to support this conclusion.  The author does not seem to be refuting another piece of writing because he does not reference another work and does not adopt an argumentative style. Finally, although the author mentions his personal experience with the invasion of Italy, it is not the primary purpose of the essay. So, we can only say that this is a continuation of a longer piece of advice on how best to govern a state.

Example Question #626 : Lsat Reading Comprehension

Adapted from History of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria in Light of Recent Discoveries by L. W. King and H. R. Hall (1906)

The killing and entombment of the royal servants is of the highest anthropological interest, for it throws a vivid light upon the manners of the time. The king was dead. But yet how could one really die? Shadows, dreams, and all kinds of phenomena which the primitive mind could not explain induced the belief that, though the outer man might rot, there was an inner man which could not die and still lived on. And where should this inner man still live on but in the tomb to which the outer man was consigned? And here, doubtless it was believed, in the house to which the body was consigned, the ghost lived on. And as each ghost had his house with the body, so no doubt all ghosts could communicate with one another from tomb to tomb; and so there grew up the belief in a tomb-world, a subterranean Egypt of tombs, in which the dead Egyptians still lived and had their being. Over this dread realm of dead men presided a dead god, Osiris of Abydos.

Now none could live without food, and men living under the earth needed it as much as men living on the earth. The royal tomb was thus provided with an enormous amount of earthly food for the use of the royal ghost. Royal slaves were needed to take care of all this provision, and to serve the ghost of the king. Ghosts only could serve ghosts, so that of the slaves ghosts had to be made. That was easily done; they died when their master died and followed him to the tomb. No doubt it seemed perfectly natural to all concerned, to the slaves as much as to anybody else. But it shows that an animate thing was hardly distinguished at this period from an inanimate thing. The most ancient Egyptians buried slaves with their kings as naturally as they buried jars of wine and bins of corn with them. Both were buried with a definite object. Of the sanctity of human life as distinct from other life, there was probably no idea at all. The royal ghost needed ghostly servants, and they were provided as a matter of course.

But as time progressed, the ideas of the Egyptians changed on these points, and in the later ages of the ancient world they were more humane, far more so than the Greeks, in fact. The cultured Hellenes murdered their prisoners of war without hesitation. Who has not been troubled in mind by the execution of Mkias and Demosthenes after the surrender of the Athenian army at Syracuse? When we compare this with Grant's refusal even to take Lee's sword at Appomattox, the difference is striking. But the Egyptians of Gylippus's time were probably more humane than the Greeks as well. When Amasis had his rival Apries in his power, he did not put him to death, but kept him as his coadjutor on the throne. Apries fled from him, allied himself with Greek pirates, and advanced against his generous rival. After his defeat and murder at Momemphis, Amasis gave him a splendid burial. When we compare this generosity to a beaten foe with the lack of it shown by the Assyrians, for instance, we see how far the later Egyptians had progressed in developing a respect for the lives of others.

The story about Amasis and Apries is intended to provide evidence supporting the author's belief in __________.

Possible Answers:

the effect of modernization and organization on the ancient Egyptian army

the comparably inhumane nature of the ancient Greeks when compared to the ancient Egyptians

the relatively humane nature of the ancient Egyptians when compared to their contemporaries

the martial prowess of the ancient Egyptians

the inherent risk assumed by someone in a position of power who allows a potential enemy to escape unscathed

Correct answer:

the relatively humane nature of the ancient Egyptians when compared to their contemporaries

Explanation:

In the third paragraph, the author says, “When Amasis had his rival Apries in his power, he did not put him to death, but kept him as his coadjutor on the throne. Apries fled from him, allied himself with Greek pirates, and advanced against his generous rival. After his defeat and murder at Momemphis, Amasis gave him a splendid burial. When we compare this generosity to a beaten foe with the lack of it shown by the Assyrians, for instance, we see how far the later Egyptians had progressed in developing a respect for the lives of others.” Here, a clear comparison is being made between the customs of the ancient Egyptians and the customs of the ancient Greeks and Assyrians. The overall argument is that the ancient Egyptians demonstrated a greater appreciation for the value of human life than their contemporaries did. 

Example Question #8 : Organization And Structure In Humanities Passages

Adapted from A Guide to Stoicism by George Stock (1915)

Among the Greeks and Romans of the classical age, philosophy occupied the place taken by religion in some later societies. Their appeal was to reason, not to revelation. To what, asks Cicero in his Offices, are we to look for training in virtue, if not to philosophy? Many people today are born into certain religions or religious denominations, but it was of his own free choice that the serious-minded young Greek or Roman embraced the tenets of one of the great sects which divided the world of philosophy. Conversions from one sect to another were of quite rare occurrence. A certain Dionysius of Heraclea, who went over from the Stoics to the Cyrenaics, was ever afterward known as "the deserter." It was as difficult to be independent in philosophy as it is with us to be independent in politics. When a young man joined a school, he committed himself to all its opinions, not only as to the end of life, which was the main point of division, but as to all questions on all subjects. The Stoic did not differ merely in his ethics from the Epicurean; he differed also in his theology and his physics and his metaphysics.

The life span of Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, was from B.C.E. 347 to 275. He did not begin teaching till 315, at the mature age of forty. Aristotle had passed away in 322, and with him closed the great constructive era of Greek thought. The Ionian philosophers had speculated on the physical constitution of the universe, the Pythagoreans on the mystical properties of numbers; Heraclitus had propounded his philosophy of fire, Democritus and Leucippus had struck out a rude form of the atomic theory, Socrates had raised questions relating to man, Plato had discussed them with all the freedom of the dialogue, while Aristotle had systematically worked them out. The later schools did not add much to the body of philosophy. What they did was to emphasize different sides of the doctrine of their predecessors and to drive views to their logical consequences. The great lesson of Greek philosophy is that it is worthwhile to do right irrespective of reward and punishment and regardless of the shortness of life. This lesson the Stoics so enforced by the earnestness of their lives and the influence of their moral teaching that it has become associated more particularly with them. 

The Greeks were all agreed that there was an end or aim of life, and that it was to be called "happiness," but at that point their agreement ended. As to the nature of happiness there was the utmost variety of opinion. Democritus had made it consist in mental serenity, Anaxagoras in speculation, Socrates in wisdom, Aristotle in the practice of virtue with some amount of favor from fortune, Aristippus simply in pleasure. Zeno's contribution to thought on the subject does not at first sight appear illuminating. He said that the end was "to live consistently," the implication doubtless being that no life but the passionless life of reason could ultimately be consistent with itself. Cleanthes, his immediate successor in the school, is credited with having added the words "with nature," thus completing the well-known Stoic formula that the end is "to live consistently with nature."

It was assumed by the Greeks that the ways of nature were "the ways of pleasantness," and that "all her paths" were "peace." This may seem to us a startling assumption, but that is because we do not mean by "nature" the same thing as they did. We connect the term with the origin of a thing, they connected it rather with the end; we mean by a thing's nature what it is or has been, they meant what it ought to become under the most favorable conditions. Hence we find Aristotle maintaining that the State is a natural product, because it is evolved out of social relations which exist by nature. Nature indeed was a highly ambiguous term to the Greeks no less than to ourselves, but in the sense with which we are now concerned, the nature of anything was defined by the Peripatetics as "the end of its becoming." Another definition of theirs puts the matter still more clearly. "What each thing is when its growth has been completed, that we declare to be the nature of each thing."

Following out this conception the Stoics identified a life in accordance with nature with a life in accordance with the highest perfection to which man could attain. Now, as man was essentially a rational animal, his work as man lay in living the rational life. And the perfection of reason was virtue. Hence the ways of nature were no other than the ways of virtue. And so it came about that the Stoic formula might be expressed in a number of different ways which yet all amounted to the same thing. The end was to live the virtuous life, or to live consistently, or to live in accordance with nature, or to live rationally.

What impact does the author’s statement “Individuals in some later societies were born into religious denominations” have on the formation of his argument?

Possible Answers:

It helps establish the principle that the Ancient Greeks were much less inclined towards religious and political truths than they were towards philosophical ones.

It aids the author in explaining why the Ancient Greeks were so eager to adopt a philosophical identity, as they had no strong religious or political affiliations to cling to. 

It grounds the author’s argument in contemporary understandings of reality.

It admonishes the author’s audience for being coerced into rigid principles and then sticking with them in spite of information learned later in life.

It helps contrast the manner in which the author’s audience is forced into guiding principles compared to the manner in which the Ancient Greeks were able to choose their philosophy. 

Correct answer:

It helps contrast the manner in which the author’s audience is forced into guiding principles compared to the manner in which the Ancient Greeks were able to choose their philosophy. 

Explanation:

The author makes this statement to compare the freedom with which Ancient Greeks were able to choose their school of philosophy and theology with the manner in which the author’s audience were (in the author’s opinion) born, or forced, into a school of religious and spiritual thinking. 

Example Question #9 : Organization And Structure In Humanities Passages

Adapted from Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (trans. Garnett 1918)

I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased. However, I know nothing at all about my disease, and do not know for certain what ails me. I don't consult a doctor for it, and never have, though I have a respect for medicine and doctors. Besides, I am extremely superstitious, sufficiently so to respect medicine, anyway (I am well-educated enough not to be superstitious, but I am superstitious). No, I refuse to consult a doctor from spite. That you probably will not understand. Well, I understand it, though. Of course, I can't explain who it is precisely that I am mortifying in this case by my spite: I am perfectly well aware that I cannot "pay out" the doctors by not consulting them; I know better than anyone that by all this I am only injuring myself and no one else. But still, if I don't consult a doctor it is from spite. My liver is bad, well—let it get worse! . . .

But do you know, gentlemen, what was the chief point about my spite? Why, the whole point, the real sting of it lay in the fact that continually, even in the moment of the acutest spleen, I was inwardly conscious with shame that I was not only not a spiteful but not even an embittered man, that I was simply scaring sparrows at random and amusing myself by it. I might foam at the mouth, but bring me a doll to play with, give me a cup of tea with sugar in it, and maybe I should be appeased. I might even be genuinely touched, though probably I should grind my teeth at myself afterwards and lie awake at night with shame for months after. That was my way.

I was lying when I said just now that I was a spiteful official. I was lying from spite. I was simply amusing myself with the petitioners and with the officer, and in reality I never could become spiteful. I was conscious every moment in myself of many, very many elements absolutely opposite to that. I felt them positively swarming in me, these opposite elements. I knew that they had been swarming in me all my life and craving some outlet from me, but I would not let them, would not let them, purposely would not let them come out. They tormented me till I was ashamed: they drove me to convulsions and—sickened me, at last, how they sickened me! Now, are not you fancying, gentlemen, that I am expressing remorse for something now, that I am asking your forgiveness for something? I am sure you are fancying that . . . However, I assure you I do not care if you are . . .

The relationship between the first and third paragraph can best be described in which way?

Possible Answers:

The first paragraph introduces a debate and the third paragraph concludes it.

The first paragraph presents a hypothesis that the third paragraph contradicts.

The first paragraph introduces a premise that the third paragraph confirms.

The first paragraph interrogates the narrator’s mindset, and the third paragraph turns that interrogation over into the reader’s hands.

The first paragraph poses an assumption, the logical ramifications of which are outlined in the third paragraph.

Correct answer:

The first paragraph introduces a premise that the third paragraph confirms.

Explanation:

The first paragraph introduces the reader to the claim that the speaker is a sick and spiteful man. The third paragraph provides an instance of the speaker lying out of spite, which confirms what he said in the first paragraph.

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