LSAT Reading : Recognizing Details of Humanities Passages

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Example Question #1 : Recognizing Details Of Humanities Passages

The name “Karen” is a term for over twenty sub-ethnic groups which constitute a minority group in Burma, a developing country in Southeast Asia suffering from the longest civil war in modern history. Many of the Karen people have been displaced and compelled to live as refugees in Thailand, where they lack citizenship and basic human rights.   Historically, violence in Burma forced the Karen people into the Eastern highlands of Burma, where many were persecuted for their belief in Christianity.  Some members of the Karen were subject to torture, while others were forced into slavery. Today, it is still a struggle for the Karen people to break free from their tumultuous history on many levels—including a linguistic one.

The origin of the word “Karen” is subject to dispute. The Oxford Dictionary denotes the origin of the word for “Karen” as being derived from the Burmese word “ka-reng,” meaning “wild, unclean man.”  However, it is ambiguous as to whether the Burmese word from which “Karen” was derived is “ka-reng,” or “kayin.”  According to Nick Cheesman, the foremost scholar on the Karen people, “Karen” is an Anglicization of the Burmese word “kayin,” the direct translation of which is unknown.  By one account, “kayin” means “aboriginal,” but by another account it means “wild cattle of the hills.” 

The Oxford Dictionary, rather than explaining the ambiguity that surrounds the etymology of “Karen,” instead provides inaccurate information. Its representation of the word “Karen” has been a source of pain for the Karen people, who resent the fact that they are associated with a description of “wild, unclean man.”  The Karen people have already been subject to much turmoil and oppression; the characterization of their identity’s origin only deepens their plight.

Given the uncertainty as to the origin of the word “Karen,” and the subsequent pain that the Oxford Dictionary is currently causing to the Karen people, some activists are urging the Oxford Dictionary to change the listed origin from “wild, unclean man,” to “aboriginal person.”  The term “aboriginal person” is equally accurate, if not more so, than “wild, unclean man,” and does not offend the populace it seeks to describe. However, instigating change is going to be a challenging endeavor. For the Oxford Dictionary to admit that it has erred in its definition could potentially subject it to scrutiny. However, between the two options of allowing the Karen people to continue to suffer, versus admitting a mistake, the latter is more benign.

Each of the following is an example of the suffering that the Karen people have likely endured EXCEPT for which answer choice?

Possible Answers:

The Karen people are misunderstood

The Karen people, as refugees, had to flee from their homes

The Karen people are barred from pursuing education

Many Karen people have had to practice their religion in secret

The Karen people were subjected to slavery and torture

Correct answer:

The Karen people are barred from pursuing education

Explanation:

All of the answer choices, except "The Karen people are barred from pursuing education," are either stated directly in the text as being a form of suffering that the Karen people have endured, or have been implied as one. 

Example Question #2 : Recognizing Details Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Last Man by Mary Shelley (1826)

I fulfilled my commission; I saw Karazza. He was somewhat surprised; he would see, he said, what could be done, but it required time, and Raymond had ordered me to return by noon. It was impossible to affect anything in so short a time. I must stay till the next day, or come back, after having reported the present state of things to the general. My choice was easily made. A restlessness, a fear of what was about to betide, a doubt as to Raymond's purposes, urged me to return without delay to his quarters. Quitting the Seven Towers, I rode eastward towards the Sweet Waters. I took a circuitous path, principally for the sake of going to the top of the mount before mentioned, which commanded a view of the city. I had my glass with me. The city basked under the noon-day sun, and the venerable walls formed its picturesque boundary. Immediately before me was the Top Kapou, the gate near which Mahomet had made the breach by which he entered the city. Trees gigantic and aged grew near; before the gate I discerned a crowd of moving human figures—with intense curiosity I lifted my glass to my eye. I saw Lord Raymond on his charger; a small company of officers had gathered about him, and behind was a promiscuous concourse of soldiers and subalterns, their discipline lost, their arms thrown aside; no music sounded, no banners streamed. The only flag among them was one which Raymond carried; he pointed with it to the gate of the city. The circle round him fell back. With angry gestures he leapt from his horse, and seizing a hatchet that hung from his saddle-bow, went with the apparent intention of battering down the opposing gate. A few men came to aid him; their numbers increased; under their united blows the obstacle was vanquished, gate, portcullis, and fence were demolished, and the wide sun-lit way, leading to the heart of the city, now lay open before them. The men shrank back; they seemed afraid of what they had already done, and stood as if they expected some Mighty Phantom to stalk in offended majesty from the opening. Raymond sprung lightly on his horse, grasped the standard, and with words which I could not hear (but his gestures, being their fit accompaniment, were marked by passionate energy), he seemed to adjure their assistance and companionship; even as he spoke, the crowd receded from him. Indignation now transported him; his words I guessed were fraught with disdain—then turning from his coward followers, he addressed himself to enter the city alone. His very horse seemed to back from the fatal entrance; his dog, his faithful dog, lay moaning and supplicating in his path—in a moment more, he had plunged the rowels into the sides of the stung animal, who bounded forward, and he, the gateway passed, was galloping up the broad and desert street.

Until this moment my soul had been in my eyes only. I had gazed with wonder, mixed with fear and enthusiasm. The latter feeling now predominated. I forgot the distance between us: "I will go with thee, Raymond!" I cried, but, my eye removed from the glass, I could scarce discern the pigmy forms of the crowd, which about a mile from me surrounded the gate; the form of Raymond was lost. Stung with impatience, I urged my horse with force of spur and loosened reins down the acclivity, that, before danger could arrive, I might be at the side of my noble, godlike friend. A number of buildings and trees intervened, when I had reached the plain, hiding the city from my view. But at that moment a crash was heard. Thunder-like it reverberated through the sky, while the air was darkened. A moment more and the old walls again met my sight, while over them hovered a murky cloud; fragments of buildings whirled above, half seen in smoke, while flames burst out beneath, and continued explosions filled the air with terrific thunders. Flying from the mass of falling ruin which leapt over the high walls, and shook the ivy towers, a crowd of soldiers made for the road by which I came; I was surrounded, hemmed in by them, unable to get forward. My impatience rose to its utmost; I stretched out my hands to the men; I conjured them to turn back and save their General, the conqueror of Stamboul, the liberator of Greece; tears, aye tears, in warm flow gushed from my eyes—I would not believe in his destruction, yet every mass that darkened the air seemed to bear with it a portion of the martyred Raymond. Horrible sights were shaped to me in the turbid cloud that hovered over the city; and my only relief was derived from the struggles I made to approach the gate. Yet when I affected my purpose, all I could discern within the precincts of the massive walls was a city of fire: the open way through which Raymond had ridden was enveloped in smoke and flame. After an interval the explosions ceased, but the flames still shot up from various quarters; the dome of St. Sophia had disappeared. Strange to say (the result perhaps of the concussion of air occasioned by the blowing up of the city), huge, white thunder clouds lifted themselves up from the southern horizon, and gathered overhead; they were the first blots on the blue expanse that I had seen for months, and amidst this havoc and despair they inspired pleasure. The vault above became obscured, lightning flashed from the heavy masses, followed instantaneously by crashing thunder; then the big rain fell. The flames of the city bent beneath it, and the smoke and dust arising from the ruins was dissipated.

Which one of the following is mentioned in the passage as a consequence of the destruction of the city by fire?

Possible Answers:

The fire spreading to the land surrounding the cities

A thunderstorm

The narrator entering the city to rescue Raymond

The loss of crops

The evacuation of citizens

Correct answer:

A thunderstorm

Explanation:

We do not know at the end of the passage if Raymond is definitely dead; we can infer it, but we cannot say it with certainty. We can however say for certain that the passage suggests a consequence of the destruction of the city by fire is the thunderstorm with which the passage ends. The narrator states in the last paragraph, “Strange to say (the result perhaps of the concussion of air occasioned by the blowing up of the city), huge, white thunder clouds lifted themselves up from the southern horizon, and gathered over-head.”

Example Question #3 : Recognizing Details Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from the Introduction to Letters from an American Farmer (Crèvecoeur; 1782) by Warren Barton Blake (1912)

Except by naturalization, the author of Letters from an American Farmer was not an American, and he was no ordinary farmer. Yet why quarrel with him for the naming of his book, or for his signing it "J. Hector Saint-John," when the "Hector" of his title-pages and American biographers was only a prenom de faintaisie? We owe some concessions to the author of so charming a book, to the eighteenth-century Thoreau. His life is certainly more interesting than the real Thoreau's—and would be, even if it did not present many contradictions. Our records of that life are in the highest degree inexact; he himself is wanting in accuracy as to the date of more than one event. The records, however, agree that Crèvecoeur belonged to the petite noblesse of Normandy. The date of his birth was January 31, 1735, the place was Caen, and his full name (his great-grandson and biographer vouches for it) was Michel-Guillaume-Jean de Crèvecoeur. The boy was well enough brought up, but without more than the attention that his birth gave him the right to expect; he divided the years of his boyhood between Caen, where his father's town-house stood, and the College du Mont, where the Jesuits gave him his education. A letter dated 1785 and addressed to his children tells us all that we know of his school-days; though it is said, too, that he distinguished himself in mathematics. "If you only knew," the reminiscent father of a family exclaims in this letter, "in what shabby lodging, in what a dark and chilly closet, I was mewed up at your age; with what severity I was treated; how I was fed and dressed!" Already his powers of observation, that were so to distinguish him, were quickened by his old-world milieu.

"From my earliest youth," he wrote in 1803, "I had a passion for taking in all the antiques that I met with: moth-eaten furniture, tapestries, family portraits, Gothic manuscripts (that I had learned how to decipher) had for me an indefinable charm. A little later on, I loved to walk in the solitude of cemeteries, to examine the tombs and to trace out their mossy epitaphs. I knew most of the churches of the canton, the date of their foundation, and what they contained of interest in the way of pictures and sculptures."

The boy's gift of accurate and keen observation was to be tested soon by a very different class of objects; there were to be no crumbling saints and canvases of bed-chamber grooms for him to study in the forests of America, no reminders of the greatness of his country's past, and the honor of his family.

From school, the future woodsman passed over into England. A distant relative was living near Salisbury; for one reason or another the boy was sent thither to finish his schooling. From England, with what motives we know not, he set out for the New World, where he was to spend his busiest and happiest days. In the Bibliotheca Americana Nova Rich makes the statement that Crèvecoeur was but sixteen when he made the plunge, and others have followed Rich in this error. The lad's age was really not less than nineteen or twenty. According to the family legend, his ship touched at Lisbon on the way out; one cannot decide whether this was just before or immediately after the great earthquake. Then to New France, where he joined Montcalm. Entering the service as cadet, he advanced to the rank of lieutenant; was mentioned in the Gazette; shared in the French successes; drew maps of the forests and block-houses that found their way to the king's cabinet; served with Montcalm in the attack upon Fort William Henry. With that the record is broken off: we can less definitely associate his name with the humiliation of the French in America than with their brief triumphs. Yet it is quite certain, says Robert de Crèvecoeur, his descendant, that he did not return to France with the rag-tag of the defeated army. Quebec fell before Wolfe's attack in September 1759; at some time in the course of the year 1760 we may suppose the young officer to have entered the British colonies, to have adopted his family name of "Saint John" (Saint-Jean), and to have gradually worked his way south, probably by the Hudson. The reader of the Letters hardly supposes him to have enjoyed his frontier life; nor is there any means of knowing how much of that life it was his fortune to lead. In time, he found himself as far south as Pennsylvania. He visited Shippensburg and Lancaster and Carlisle; perhaps he resided at or near one of these towns. Many years later, when his son Louis purchased a farm of two hundred acres from Chancellor Livingstone, at Navesink, near the Blue Mountains, Crèvecoeur the elder was still remembered, and it may have been at this epoch that he visited the place. During the term of his military service under Montcalm, Crèvecoeur saw something of the Great Lakes and the outlying country; prior to his experience as a cultivator, and, indeed, after he had settled down as such, he "travelled like Plato," even visited Bermuda, by his own account. Not until 1764, however, have we any positive evidence of his whereabouts; it was in April of that year that he took out naturalization papers at New York. Some months later, he installed himself on the farm variously called Greycourt and Pine-Hill, in the same state; he drained a great marsh there, and seems to have practiced agriculture upon a generous scale. The certificate of the marriage of Crèvecoeur to Mehitable Tippet, of Yonkers is dated September 20, 1769, and of this union three children were the issue. And more than children: for with the marriage ceremony once performed by the worthy Tetard, a clergyman of New York, formerly settled over a French Reformed Church at Charleston, South Carolina, Crèvecoeur is more definitely than ever the "American Farmer"; he has thrown in his lot with that new country; his children are to be called after their parent's adopted name, Saint-John; the responsibilities of the adventurer are multiplied; his life in America has become a matter more easy to trace and richer, perhaps, in meaning.

Which one of the following is mentioned as a possible consequence of Crèvecoeur's travelling after the war?

Possible Answers:

He gained an intricate knowledge of American life.

He bought areas of land for his future children.

He became well known in some areas. 

He learned vital survival skills which supported him later.

He found a reason to become naturalized.

Correct answer:

He became well known in some areas. 

Explanation:

The fourth paragraph tells us that, in the years following his military service, Crèvecoeur travelled in some parts of the United States. We know from the author's anecdote that he became well known in some areas, as it says “ Many years later, when his son Louis purchased a farm of two hundred acres from Chancellor Livingstone, at Navesink, near the Blue Mountains, Crèvecoeur the elder was still remembered.” The other answers can in some ways be inferred, but it is more likely that he gained survival skills and a reason to become naturalized during his military career rather than after it. Here you must look for specific information in the text to support the answer.

Example Question #4 : Recognizing Details Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from "Walking" by Henry David Thoreau (1862) in The Oxford Book of American Essays (1914)

I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization: the minister and the school-committee, and every one of you will take care of that.

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks—who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering: which word is beautifully derived from "idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretence of going à la Sainte Terre," to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, "There goes a Sainte-Terrer," a Saunterer—a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea. But I prefer the first, which, indeed, is the most probable derivation. For every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us, to go forth and reconquer this Holy Land from the hands of our enemies.

It is true, we are but faint-hearted crusaders, even the walkers, nowadays, who undertake no persevering, never-ending enterprises. Our expeditions are but tours, and come round again at evening to the old hearth-side from which we set out. Half the walk is but retracing our steps. We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return—prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again—if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man, then you are ready for a walk.

To come down to my own experience, my companion and I, for I sometimes have a companion, take pleasure in fancying ourselves knights of a new, or rather an old, order—not Equestrians or Chevaliers, not Ritters or riders, but Walkers, a still more ancient and honorable class, I trust. The chivalric and heroic spirit which once belonged to the Rider seems now to reside in, or perchance to have subsided into, the Walker—not the Knight, but Walker Errant. He is a sort of fourth estate, outside of Church and State and People.

We have felt that we almost alone hereabouts practiced this noble art; though, to tell the truth, at least, if their own assertions are to be received, most of my townsmen would fain walk sometimes, as I do, but they cannot. No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and independence, which are the capital in this profession. It comes only by the grace of God. It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven to become a walker. You must be born into the family of the Walkers. Ambulator nascitur, non fit. Some of my townsmen, it is true, can remember and have described to me some walks which they took ten years ago, in which they were so blessed as to lose themselves for half an hour in the woods; but I know very well that they have confined themselves to the highway ever since, whatever pretensions they may make to belong to this select class. No doubt they were elevated for a moment as by the reminiscence of a previous state of existence, when even they were foresters and outlaws.

"When he came to grene wode,
In a mery mornynge,
There he herde the notes small
Of byrdes mery syngynge.

"It is ferre gone, sayd Robyn,
That I was last here;
Me lyste a lytell for to shote
At the donne dere."

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements. You may safely say, A penny for your thoughts, or a thousand pounds. When sometimes I am reminded that the mechanics and shopkeepers stay in their shops not only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too, sitting with crossed legs, so many of them—as if the legs were made to sit upon, and not to stand or walk upon—I think that they deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago.

Which of the following is mentioned in the passage as a possible consequence of a lack of walking?

Possible Answers:

None of these answers

The mechanization of humanity

The disappearance of beggars

The author's ill health

The slow disintegration of society

Correct answer:

The author's ill health

Explanation:

The author states near the end of the passage, “I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields.” The author would thus attribute a lack of walking to his own ill health or spirits.

Example Question #5 : Recognizing Details Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from "Walking" by Henry David Thoreau (1862) in The Oxford Book of American Essays (1914)

I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization: the minister and the school-committee, and every one of you will take care of that.

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks—who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering: which word is beautifully derived from "idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretence of going à la Sainte Terre," to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, "There goes a Sainte-Terrer," a Saunterer—a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea. But I prefer the first, which, indeed, is the most probable derivation. For every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us, to go forth and reconquer this Holy Land from the hands of our enemies.

It is true, we are but faint-hearted crusaders, even the walkers, nowadays, who undertake no persevering, never-ending enterprises. Our expeditions are but tours, and come round again at evening to the old hearth-side from which we set out. Half the walk is but retracing our steps. We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return—prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again—if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man, then you are ready for a walk.

To come down to my own experience, my companion and I, for I sometimes have a companion, take pleasure in fancying ourselves knights of a new, or rather an old, order—not Equestrians or Chevaliers, not Ritters or riders, but Walkers, a still more ancient and honorable class, I trust. The chivalric and heroic spirit which once belonged to the Rider seems now to reside in, or perchance to have subsided into, the Walker—not the Knight, but Walker Errant. He is a sort of fourth estate, outside of Church and State and People.

We have felt that we almost alone hereabouts practiced this noble art; though, to tell the truth, at least, if their own assertions are to be received, most of my townsmen would fain walk sometimes, as I do, but they cannot. No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and independence, which are the capital in this profession. It comes only by the grace of God. It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven to become a walker. You must be born into the family of the Walkers. Ambulator nascitur, non fit. Some of my townsmen, it is true, can remember and have described to me some walks which they took ten years ago, in which they were so blessed as to lose themselves for half an hour in the woods; but I know very well that they have confined themselves to the highway ever since, whatever pretensions they may make to belong to this select class. No doubt they were elevated for a moment as by the reminiscence of a previous state of existence, when even they were foresters and outlaws.

"When he came to grene wode,
In a mery mornynge,
There he herde the notes small
Of byrdes mery syngynge.

"It is ferre gone, sayd Robyn,
That I was last here;
Me lyste a lytell for to shote
At the donne dere."

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements. You may safely say, A penny for your thoughts, or a thousand pounds. When sometimes I am reminded that the mechanics and shopkeepers stay in their shops not only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too, sitting with crossed legs, so many of them—as if the legs were made to sit upon, and not to stand or walk upon—I think that they deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago.

Which one of the following statements describes an example of the function accorded to Peter the Hermit?

Possible Answers:

The somnolent part of our subconscious

A man who historically encouraged people to walk and still does so through the continuation of his message today

A manifestation of a person’s conscience, in the form of a historical figure, urging outdoor activity

A deity or holy guide to those who would walk

A warning to those who do not walk

Correct answer:

A manifestation of a person’s conscience, in the form of a historical figure, urging outdoor activity

Explanation:

We can tell from the passage that Peter the Hermit is not acting as "the somnolent part of our subconscious," as he is is very much awake as the author describes it: “For every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us, to go forth and reconquer this Holy Land from the hands of our enemies.” It is instead the manifestation of our conscience which encourages us to undertake the crusade of walking on a daily basis. The answer choice "A man who historically encouraged people to walk and still does so through the continuation of his message today" is almost correct, but it fails to mention that the message is naturally within us rather than learned from books or word of mouth.

Example Question #5 : Recognizing Details Of 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 one of the following best captures the author's attitude toward abstract thoughts?

Possible Answers:

They are not real.

They are more important than when we perceive senses.

They are always founded on real perceptions. 

They exist only when we put effort into perceiving them.

They are contradictory to human knowledge.

Correct answer:

They are always founded on real perceptions. 

Explanation:

If we look at the last paragraph, which is largely about abstract thoughts, we can see that the author says “my conceiving or imagining power does not extend beyond the possibility of real existence or perception.” Abstract thoughts are thus founded in reality according to the author. We could perhaps say that “they exist only when we put effort into perceiving them,” however, the author never says this outright.

Example Question #6 : Recognizing Details Of 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 one of the following is mentioned in the passage as a possible consequence of a collection of signifiers?

Possible Answers:

Sensations

A signified

Conscience

Abstract thought

Perceptions

Correct answer:

A signified

Explanation:

The word “signifier” here means “a symbol or something which is sensed”; for instance, a sound is a signifier. The author does not use this term in the passage, but we can assert that the term could be used in the first paragraph when he is talking about senses. "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.” Or, as the author states, “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.” So the “signified apple” is the consequence of many sensed “signifiers.”

Example Question #402 : Humanities

Adapted from The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli (1532; trans. W. K. Marriott 1908)

Considering the difficulties which men have had to hold to a newly acquired state, some might wonder how, seeing that Alexander the Great became the master of Asia in a few years, and died whilst it was scarcely settled (whence it might appear reasonable that the whole empire would have rebelled), nevertheless his successors maintained themselves, and had to meet no other difficulty than that which arose among themselves from their own ambitions.

I answer that the principalities of which one has record are found to be governed in two different ways: either by a prince, with a body of servants, who assist him to govern the kingdom as ministers by his favor and permission; or by a prince and barons, who hold that dignity by antiquity of blood and not by the grace of the prince. Such barons have states and their own subjects, who recognize them as lords and hold them in natural affection. Those states that are governed by a prince and his servants hold their prince in more consideration, because in all the country there is no one who is recognized as superior to him, and if they yield obedience to another they do it as to a minister and official, and they do not bear him any particular affection.

The examples of these two governments in our time are the Turkish Monarchy and the King of France. The entire monarchy of Turkey is governed by one lord, the others are his servants; and, dividing his kingdom into Sanjaks, he sends there different administrators, and shifts and changes them as he chooses. But the King of France is placed in the midst of an ancient body of lords, acknowledged by their own subjects, and beloved by them; they have their own prerogatives, nor can the king take these away except at his peril. Therefore, he who considers both of these states will recognize great difficulties in seizing the state of the Turk, but, once it is conquered, great ease in holding it. The causes of the difficulties in seizing the Turkish Kingdom are that the usurper cannot be called in by the princes of the kingdom, nor can he hope to be assisted in his designs by the revolt of those whom the lord has around him. This arises from the reasons given above, for his ministers, being all slaves and bondmen, can only be corrupted with great difficulty, and one can expect little advantage from them when they have been corrupted, as they cannot carry the people with them, for the reasons assigned. Hence, he who attacks the Turkish must bear in mind that he will find him united, and he will have to rely more on his own strength than on the revolt of others; but, if once the Turkish ruler has been conquered, and routed in the field in such a way that he cannot replace his armies, there is nothing to fear but the family of this prince, and, this being exterminated, there remains no one to fear, the others having no credit with the people; and as the conqueror did not rely on them before his victory, so he ought not to fear them after it.

The contrary happens in kingdoms governed like that of France, because one can easily enter there by gaining over some baron of the kingdom, for one always finds malcontents and such as desire a change. Such men, for the reasons given, can open the way into the state and render the victory easy; but if you wish to hold it afterwards, you meet with infinite difficulties, both from those who have assisted you and from those you have crushed. Nor is it enough for you to have exterminated the family of the prince, because the lords that remain make themselves the heads of fresh movements against you, and as you are unable either to satisfy or exterminate them, that state is lost whenever time brings the opportunity.

Now if you will consider what was the nature of the government of Darius, you will find it similar to the Turkish Kingdom, and therefore it was only necessary for Alexander first to overthrow him in the field, and then to take the country from him. After which victory, Darius being killed, the state remained secure to Alexander, for the above reasons. And if his successors had been united they would have enjoyed it securely and at their ease, for there were no tumults raised in the kingdom except those they provoked themselves.

But it is impossible to hold with such tranquility states constituted like that of France. Hence arose those frequent rebellions against the Romans in Spain, France, and Greece, owing to the many principalities there were in these states, of which, as long as the memory of them endured, the Romans always held an insecure possession; but with the power and long continuance of the empire the memory of them passed away, and the Romans then became secure possessors. And when fighting afterwards amongst themselves, each one was able to attach to himself his own parts of the country, according to the authority he had assumed there; and the family of the former lord being exterminated, none other than the Romans were acknowledged.

When these things are remembered no one will marvel at the ease with which Alexander held the Empire of Asia, or at the difficulties which others have had to keep an acquisition, such as Pyrrhus and many more; this is not occasioned by the little or abundance of ability in the conqueror, but by the want of uniformity in the subject state.

Why does the author believe that the Romans initially had difficulty holding their conquered territories in Western Europe?

Possible Answers:

The Romans faced constant attacks from the people who roamed Western Europe at the time.

These territories had numerous established principalities that maintained the allegiance of the people.

These territories were comprised of diverse and challenging terrain that made road construction and army movement very difficult.

The Romans lacked a central government that could command the allegiance of the whole empire.

The Romans were too concerned with arguing among themselves to properly administer the territories.

Correct answer:

These territories had numerous established principalities that maintained the allegiance of the people.

Explanation:

The author discusses the difficulties faced by the Romans in holding their territories in the sixth paragraph when he says, “Hence arose those frequent rebellions against the Romans in Spain, France, and Greece, owing to the many principalities there were in these states, of which, as long as the memory of them endured, the Romans always held an insecure possession.” The author states that the conquered Roman territories in Spain, France, and Greece had many existing principalities within them, and that as long as the memory of those principalities endured, they would maintain the allegiance of the people and make administration difficult for the Romans.

Example Question #7 : Recognizing Details Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli (1532; trans. W. K. Marriott 1908)

Considering the difficulties which men have had to hold to a newly acquired state, some might wonder how, seeing that Alexander the Great became the master of Asia in a few years, and died whilst it was scarcely settled (whence it might appear reasonable that the whole empire would have rebelled), nevertheless his successors maintained themselves, and had to meet no other difficulty than that which arose among themselves from their own ambitions.

I answer that the principalities of which one has record are found to be governed in two different ways: either by a prince, with a body of servants, who assist him to govern the kingdom as ministers by his favor and permission; or by a prince and barons, who hold that dignity by antiquity of blood and not by the grace of the prince. Such barons have states and their own subjects, who recognize them as lords and hold them in natural affection. Those states that are governed by a prince and his servants hold their prince in more consideration, because in all the country there is no one who is recognized as superior to him, and if they yield obedience to another they do it as to a minister and official, and they do not bear him any particular affection.

The examples of these two governments in our time are the Turkish Monarchy and the King of France. The entire monarchy of Turkey is governed by one lord, the others are his servants; and, dividing his kingdom into Sanjaks, he sends there different administrators, and shifts and changes them as he chooses. But the King of France is placed in the midst of an ancient body of lords, acknowledged by their own subjects, and beloved by them; they have their own prerogatives, nor can the king take these away except at his peril. Therefore, he who considers both of these states will recognize great difficulties in seizing the state of the Turk, but, once it is conquered, great ease in holding it. The causes of the difficulties in seizing the Turkish Kingdom are that the usurper cannot be called in by the princes of the kingdom, nor can he hope to be assisted in his designs by the revolt of those whom the lord has around him. This arises from the reasons given above, for his ministers, being all slaves and bondmen, can only be corrupted with great difficulty, and one can expect little advantage from them when they have been corrupted, as they cannot carry the people with them, for the reasons assigned. Hence, he who attacks the Turkish must bear in mind that he will find him united, and he will have to rely more on his own strength than on the revolt of others; but, if once the Turkish ruler has been conquered, and routed in the field in such a way that he cannot replace his armies, there is nothing to fear but the family of this prince, and, this being exterminated, there remains no one to fear, the others having no credit with the people; and as the conqueror did not rely on them before his victory, so he ought not to fear them after it.

The contrary happens in kingdoms governed like that of France, because one can easily enter there by gaining over some baron of the kingdom, for one always finds malcontents and such as desire a change. Such men, for the reasons given, can open the way into the state and render the victory easy; but if you wish to hold it afterwards, you meet with infinite difficulties, both from those who have assisted you and from those you have crushed. Nor is it enough for you to have exterminated the family of the prince, because the lords that remain make themselves the heads of fresh movements against you, and as you are unable either to satisfy or exterminate them, that state is lost whenever time brings the opportunity.

Now if you will consider what was the nature of the government of Darius, you will find it similar to the Turkish Kingdom, and therefore it was only necessary for Alexander first to overthrow him in the field, and then to take the country from him. After which victory, Darius being killed, the state remained secure to Alexander, for the above reasons. And if his successors had been united they would have enjoyed it securely and at their ease, for there were no tumults raised in the kingdom except those they provoked themselves.

But it is impossible to hold with such tranquility states constituted like that of France. Hence arose those frequent rebellions against the Romans in Spain, France, and Greece, owing to the many principalities there were in these states, of which, as long as the memory of them endured, the Romans always held an insecure possession; but with the power and long continuance of the empire the memory of them passed away, and the Romans then became secure possessors. And when fighting afterwards amongst themselves, each one was able to attach to himself his own parts of the country, according to the authority he had assumed there; and the family of the former lord being exterminated, none other than the Romans were acknowledged.

When these things are remembered no one will marvel at the ease with which Alexander held the Empire of Asia, or at the difficulties which others have had to keep an acquisition, such as Pyrrhus and many more; this is not occasioned by the little or abundance of ability in the conqueror, but by the want of uniformity in the subject state.

According to the author, which territory would be the easiest to conquer?

Possible Answers:

It is impossible to determine which of these territories would be easiest to conquer based on the passage.

The Kingdom of France

The Kingdom of Darius

The Turkish Kingdom

The Roman Empire

Correct answer:

The Kingdom of France

Explanation:

You could answer this question from an overall understanding of the passage; the Kingdom of France is governed by barons, and such kingdoms are stated to be easier to conquer. Or, you could determine the answer specifically from the following excerpt from the fourth paragraph: “The contrary happens in kingdoms governed like that of France, because one can easily enter there by gaining over some baron of the kingdom, for one always finds malcontents and such as desire a change.”

Example Question #7 : Recognizing Details Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli (1532; trans. W. K. Marriott 1908)

Considering the difficulties which men have had to hold to a newly acquired state, some might wonder how, seeing that Alexander the Great became the master of Asia in a few years, and died whilst it was scarcely settled (whence it might appear reasonable that the whole empire would have rebelled), nevertheless his successors maintained themselves, and had to meet no other difficulty than that which arose among themselves from their own ambitions.

I answer that the principalities of which one has record are found to be governed in two different ways: either by a prince, with a body of servants, who assist him to govern the kingdom as ministers by his favor and permission; or by a prince and barons, who hold that dignity by antiquity of blood and not by the grace of the prince. Such barons have states and their own subjects, who recognize them as lords and hold them in natural affection. Those states that are governed by a prince and his servants hold their prince in more consideration, because in all the country there is no one who is recognized as superior to him, and if they yield obedience to another they do it as to a minister and official, and they do not bear him any particular affection.

The examples of these two governments in our time are the Turkish Monarchy and the King of France. The entire monarchy of Turkey is governed by one lord, the others are his servants; and, dividing his kingdom into Sanjaks, he sends there different administrators, and shifts and changes them as he chooses. But the King of France is placed in the midst of an ancient body of lords, acknowledged by their own subjects, and beloved by them; they have their own prerogatives, nor can the king take these away except at his peril. Therefore, he who considers both of these states will recognize great difficulties in seizing the state of the Turk, but, once it is conquered, great ease in holding it. The causes of the difficulties in seizing the Turkish Kingdom are that the usurper cannot be called in by the princes of the kingdom, nor can he hope to be assisted in his designs by the revolt of those whom the lord has around him. This arises from the reasons given above, for his ministers, being all slaves and bondmen, can only be corrupted with great difficulty, and one can expect little advantage from them when they have been corrupted, as they cannot carry the people with them, for the reasons assigned. Hence, he who attacks the Turkish must bear in mind that he will find him united, and he will have to rely more on his own strength than on the revolt of others; but, if once the Turkish ruler has been conquered, and routed in the field in such a way that he cannot replace his armies, there is nothing to fear but the family of this prince, and, this being exterminated, there remains no one to fear, the others having no credit with the people; and as the conqueror did not rely on them before his victory, so he ought not to fear them after it.

The contrary happens in kingdoms governed like that of France, because one can easily enter there by gaining over some baron of the kingdom, for one always finds malcontents and such as desire a change. Such men, for the reasons given, can open the way into the state and render the victory easy; but if you wish to hold it afterwards, you meet with infinite difficulties, both from those who have assisted you and from those you have crushed. Nor is it enough for you to have exterminated the family of the prince, because the lords that remain make themselves the heads of fresh movements against you, and as you are unable either to satisfy or exterminate them, that state is lost whenever time brings the opportunity.

Now if you will consider what was the nature of the government of Darius, you will find it similar to the Turkish Kingdom, and therefore it was only necessary for Alexander first to overthrow him in the field, and then to take the country from him. After which victory, Darius being killed, the state remained secure to Alexander, for the above reasons. And if his successors had been united they would have enjoyed it securely and at their ease, for there were no tumults raised in the kingdom except those they provoked themselves.

But it is impossible to hold with such tranquility states constituted like that of France. Hence arose those frequent rebellions against the Romans in Spain, France, and Greece, owing to the many principalities there were in these states, of which, as long as the memory of them endured, the Romans always held an insecure possession; but with the power and long continuance of the empire the memory of them passed away, and the Romans then became secure possessors. And when fighting afterwards amongst themselves, each one was able to attach to himself his own parts of the country, according to the authority he had assumed there; and the family of the former lord being exterminated, none other than the Romans were acknowledged.

When these things are remembered no one will marvel at the ease with which Alexander held the Empire of Asia, or at the difficulties which others have had to keep an acquisition, such as Pyrrhus and many more; this is not occasioned by the little or abundance of ability in the conqueror, but by the want of uniformity in the subject state.

Why does the author believe that the Romans were eventually able to solidify their control over the principalities of Western Europe?

Possible Answers:

A great deal of time passed and the memories of the existing power structures faded, allowing the Romans to implement their own lords and rulers in administrative positions.

The Roman Empire introduced a unifying religion to Western Europe that kept all territories in obedience to Rome.

All of these answers are incorrect; the author does not believe that the Romans were ever able to solidify control over the principalities of Western Europe.

The Roman Empire was centrally controlled and had the military and economic capabilities to withstand continuous resistance over hundreds of years.

The Romans allowed the existing power structures to continue under nominal Roman control, and as a result the people had little reason to challenge Roman influence.

Correct answer:

A great deal of time passed and the memories of the existing power structures faded, allowing the Romans to implement their own lords and rulers in administrative positions.

Explanation:

In context, the author states, “but with the power and long continuance of the empire the memory of them passed away, and the Romans then became secure possessors. And when fighting afterwards amongst themselves, each one was able to attach to himself his own parts of the country, according to the authority he had assumed there; and the family of the former lord being exterminated, none other than the Romans were acknowledged.” The author is saying that the “long continuance” of the Roman Empire meant that the “memory of [the former power structures] passed away.” This passage of time allowed the Romans to place their own lords and rulers in positions of power that were universally acknowledged.

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