LSAT Reading : Analyzing Humanities Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for LSAT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #865 : Lsat Reading Comprehension

Adapted from Talks to Teachers on Psychology and to Students on Some of Life’s Ideals by William James (1900)

In the general uprising of ideal interests discernible all about us in American life, there is perhaps no more promising feature than the fermentation that has been going on among the teachers. In whatever sphere of education their functions may lie, there is to be seen among them a really inspiring amount of searching of the heart about the highest concerns of their profession. The renovation of nations begins always at the top, among the reflective members of the state, and spreads slowly outward and downward. The teachers of this country, one may say, have its future in their hands. The outward organization of education which we have in our United States is perhaps, on the whole, the best organization that exists in any country. The state school systems give a diversity and flexibility, an opportunity for experiment and keenness of competition, nowhere else to be found on such an important scale. The independence of so many of the colleges and universities; their emulation, and their happy organic relations to the lower schools; the traditions of instruction in them, evolved from the older American recitation-method (and so avoiding on the one hand the pure lecture-system prevalent in Germany and Scotland, which considers too little the individual student, and yet not involving the sacrifice of the instructor to the individual student, which the English tutorial system would seem too often to entail),—all these things are most happy features of our scholastic life, and from them the most sanguine auguries may be drawn.

No one has profited more by the fermentation of which I speak, in pedagogical circles, than we psychologists. The desire of the schoolteachers for a more thorough professional training has led them more and more to turn to us for light on fundamental principles.

Psychology ought certainly to give the teacher radical help. And yet I confess that, acquainted as I am with the height of some of your expectations, I feel a little anxious lest, at the end of these simple talks of mine, not a few of you may experience some disappointment at the net results. In other words, I am not sure that you may not be indulging fancies that are just a shade exaggerated. That would not be altogether astonishing, for we have been having something like a 'boom' in psychology in this country. 'The new psychology' has thus become a term to conjure up portentous ideas withal; and you teachers, docile and receptive and aspiring as many of you are, have been plunged in an atmosphere of vague talk about our science, which to a great extent has been more mystifying than enlightening. 

As regards this subject of psychology, now, I wish at the very threshold to do what I can to dispel the mystification. So I say at once that in my humble opinion there is no 'new psychology' worthy of the name. There is nothing but the old psychology which began in Locke's time, plus a little physiology of the brain and senses and theory of evolution, and a few refinements of introspective detail, for the most part without adaptation to the teacher's use. It is only the fundamental conceptions of psychology which are of real value to the teacher; and they, apart from the aforesaid theory of evolution, are very far from being new.

I say moreover that you make a great, a very great mistake, if you think that psychology, being the science of the mind's laws, is something from which you can deduce definite programs and schemes and methods of instruction for immediate schoolroom use. Psychology is a science, and teaching is an art; and sciences never generate arts directly out of themselves. An intermediary inventive mind must make the application, by using its originality.

The science of logic never made a man reason rightly, and the science of ethics (if there be such a thing) never made a man behave rightly. A science only lays down lines within which the rules of the art must fall, laws which the follower of the art must not transgress; but what particular thing he shall positively do within those lines is left exclusively to his own genius.

Which of the following is the best title for this passage?

Possible Answers:

"The Trouble with Using Psychology to Improve the Profession of Teaching"

"Why Teachers are Naive to Expect Psychology to Help Them with Their Work"

"How to Improve the Quality of American Education"

"Why Psychology is a Science and Teaching is an Art Form"

"The Impact of 'New Psychology' on the Profession of Teaching"

Correct answer:

"The Trouble with Using Psychology to Improve the Profession of Teaching"

Explanation:

When you are asked to give a title for an essay, you are mostly being asked if you understand the thesis of the essay. In this instance, the thesis is primarily that psychology is a science and can do very little to improve the profession of teaching, which is an art. The author does talk about psychology being a science and teaching being an art, but does not focus on the “why” of this difference. Likewise, there is small mention of the improvements to the quality of American education, but they are more reasonably stated as facts. The author totally dismisses the impact of “new psychology,” so we may rule out this answer quite quickly. Finally, although the author discusses his perception of the naiveté of teachers, he does not make it the center of his argument. The best title for the passage is thus "The Trouble with Using Psychology to Improve the Profession of Teaching."

Example Question #866 : Lsat Reading Comprehension

Adapted from English Literature: Its History and Its Significance for the Life of the English Speaking World by William J. Long (1909)

Coleridge left Cambridge in 1794 without taking his degree, and presently we find him with the youthful Southey—a kindred spirit who had been fired to wild enthusiasm by the French Revolution—founding his famous Pantisocracy for the regeneration of human society. "The Fall of Robespierre," a poem composed by the two enthusiasts, is full of the new revolutionary spirit. The Pantisocracy was to be an ideal community that combined farming and literature; work was to be limited to two hours each day. Moreover, each member of the community was to marry a good woman and take her with him. The two poets obeyed the latter injunction first, marrying two sisters, and then found that they had no money to pay even their traveling expenses to the new utopia.

During all the rest of his career a tragic weakness of will takes possession of Coleridge, making it impossible for him, with all his genius and learning, to hold himself steadily to any one work or purpose. He studied in Germany; worked as a private secretary, till the drudgery wore upon his free spirit; then he went to Rome and remained for two years, lost in study. Later he started The Friend, a paper devoted to truth and liberty; lectured on poetry and the fine arts to enraptured audiences in London, until his frequent failures to meet his engagements scattered his hearers; was offered an excellent position and a half interest (amounting to some £2000) in the Morning Post and The Courier, but declined it, saying "that I would not give up the country and the lazy reading of old folios for two thousand times two thousand pounds—in short, that beyond £350 a year I considered money a real evil.” His family, meanwhile, was almost entirely neglected; he lived apart, following his own way. Needing money, he was on the point of becoming a Unitarian minister, when a small pension from two friends enabled him to live for a few years without regular employment.

A terrible shadow in Coleridge's life was the apparent cause of most of his dejection. In early life he suffered from neuralgia, and to ease the pain began to use opiates. The result on such a temperament was almost inevitable. He became a slave to the drug habit; his naturally weak will lost all its directing and sustaining force, until, after fifteen years of pain and struggle and despair, he gave up and put himself in charge of a physician, one Mr. Gillman of Highgate. Carlyle, who visited him at this time, calls him "a king of men," but records that "he gave you the idea of a life that had been full of sufferings, a life heavy-laden, half-vanquished."

The shadow is dark indeed; but there are gleams of sunshine that occasionally break through the clouds. One of these is his association with Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy, out of which came the famous Lyrical Ballads of 1798. Another was his loyal devotion to poetry for its own sake. With the exception of his tragedy Remorse, for which he was paid £400, he received almost nothing for his poetry. Indeed, he seems not to have desired it; for he says: "Poetry has been to me its own exceeding great reward; it has soothed my afflictions; it has multiplied and refined my enjoyments; it has endeared solitude, and it has given me the habit of wishing to discover the good and the beautiful in all that meets and surrounds me." One can better understand his exquisite verse after such a declaration. A third ray of sunlight came from the admiration of his contemporaries; for though he wrote comparatively little, he was by his talents and learning a leader among literary men. Wordsworth says of him that, though other men of the age had done some wonderful things, Coleridge was the only wonderful man he had ever known. Of his conversation it is recorded: "Throughout a long-drawn summer's day would this man talk to you in low, equable but clear and musical tones, concerning things human and divine; marshaling all history, harmonizing all experiment, probing the depths of your consciousness, and revealing visions of glory and terror to the imagination."

Which one of the following most accurately states the main point of the passage?

Possible Answers:

We should canonize Coleridge's work.

Coleridge was respected by his contemporaries but probably did not reach his full potential.

Great people should be remembered for their actions, not their words.

Every person has his or her own flaws.

Coleridge is better known for his poems but should instead be remembered for his plays.

Correct answer:

Coleridge was respected by his contemporaries but probably did not reach his full potential.

Explanation:

While some of the more sweeping statements could be interpreted from the text, “every man has his flaws” being one of them, the main point of the text is that Coleridge was considered by many to be great, but perhaps did not achieve the greatness he could have. We can interpret this from the numerous possible successes the author says he could have had, where he instead followed a different route. The author also presents Coleridge's numerous troubles. We can only assume this is to make excuses for Coleridge as his contemporaries all seemed to admire him.

Example Question #867 : Lsat Reading Comprehension

Adapted from English Literature: Its History and Its Significance for the Life of the English Speaking World by William J. Long (1909)

Coleridge left Cambridge in 1794 without taking his degree, and presently we find him with the youthful Southey—a kindred spirit who had been fired to wild enthusiasm by the French Revolution—founding his famous Pantisocracy for the regeneration of human society. "The Fall of Robespierre," a poem composed by the two enthusiasts, is full of the new revolutionary spirit. The Pantisocracy was to be an ideal community that combined farming and literature; work was to be limited to two hours each day. Moreover, each member of the community was to marry a good woman and take her with him. The two poets obeyed the latter injunction first, marrying two sisters, and then found that they had no money to pay even their traveling expenses to the new utopia.

During all the rest of his career a tragic weakness of will takes possession of Coleridge, making it impossible for him, with all his genius and learning, to hold himself steadily to any one work or purpose. He studied in Germany; worked as a private secretary, till the drudgery wore upon his free spirit; then he went to Rome and remained for two years, lost in study. Later he started The Friend, a paper devoted to truth and liberty; lectured on poetry and the fine arts to enraptured audiences in London, until his frequent failures to meet his engagements scattered his hearers; was offered an excellent position and a half interest (amounting to some £2000) in the Morning Post and The Courier, but declined it, saying "that I would not give up the country and the lazy reading of old folios for two thousand times two thousand pounds—in short, that beyond £350 a year I considered money a real evil.” His family, meanwhile, was almost entirely neglected; he lived apart, following his own way. Needing money, he was on the point of becoming a Unitarian minister, when a small pension from two friends enabled him to live for a few years without regular employment.

A terrible shadow in Coleridge's life was the apparent cause of most of his dejection. In early life he suffered from neuralgia, and to ease the pain began to use opiates. The result on such a temperament was almost inevitable. He became a slave to the drug habit; his naturally weak will lost all its directing and sustaining force, until, after fifteen years of pain and struggle and despair, he gave up and put himself in charge of a physician, one Mr. Gillman of Highgate. Carlyle, who visited him at this time, calls him "a king of men," but records that "he gave you the idea of a life that had been full of sufferings, a life heavy-laden, half-vanquished."

The shadow is dark indeed; but there are gleams of sunshine that occasionally break through the clouds. One of these is his association with Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy, out of which came the famous Lyrical Ballads of 1798. Another was his loyal devotion to poetry for its own sake. With the exception of his tragedy Remorse, for which he was paid £400, he received almost nothing for his poetry. Indeed, he seems not to have desired it; for he says: "Poetry has been to me its own exceeding great reward; it has soothed my afflictions; it has multiplied and refined my enjoyments; it has endeared solitude, and it has given me the habit of wishing to discover the good and the beautiful in all that meets and surrounds me." One can better understand his exquisite verse after such a declaration. A third ray of sunlight came from the admiration of his contemporaries; for though he wrote comparatively little, he was by his talents and learning a leader among literary men. Wordsworth says of him that, though other men of the age had done some wonderful things, Coleridge was the only wonderful man he had ever known. Of his conversation it is recorded: "Throughout a long-drawn summer's day would this man talk to you in low, equable but clear and musical tones, concerning things human and divine; marshaling all history, harmonizing all experiment, probing the depths of your consciousness, and revealing visions of glory and terror to the imagination."

Which of the following is central to the passage?

Possible Answers:

Coleridge's relationships with other great men

Coleridge's literary career

Coleridge's genius

All of the other answers are topics central to the passage.

Coleridge's weak will and other problems

Correct answer:

All of the other answers are topics central to the passage.

Explanation:

The passage's central topic is Coleridge and the aspects of his life; each of these aspects of his life appear centrally in the passage in that they all appear equally throughout the passage. His genius, his literary career, his relationships with his contemporaries, and his weak will are all equally evaluated by the author as being key aspects of his life.

Example Question #868 : Lsat Reading Comprehension

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 is the best title for this passage?

Possible Answers:

"Why Has Belize Developed Differently Than the Rest of Central America?"

“The Cultural Heterogeneity of Belize: Causes for Optimism" 

“The Problems with Foreign Property Ownership in Belize”

“A Short History of British Honduras and Independent Belize”

“On the Difficulties Facing Contemporary Belize”

Correct answer:

“The Cultural Heterogeneity of Belize: Causes for Optimism" 

Explanation:

Of the five answer choices, the best option is “The Cultural Heterogeneity of Belize: Causes for Optimism.” It is the only answer choice that captures both the optimistic tone of the conclusion, and the cautious and considerate tone of the earlier parts of the essay. The answer choice “Why Has Belize Developed Differently Than the Rest of Central America?” is incorrect because the author only mentions the differences between Belize and Central America in passing, not as the main point of the passage. “On the Difficulties Facing Contemporary Belize” is incorrect because the author spends a great deal of time discussing historical Belize and focuses as much on the positives as the negatives of contemporary Belize. “The Problems with Foreign Property Ownership in Belize” is a significant part of the overall argument, but is generally rendered less meaningful by the conclusion. “A Short History of British Honduras and Independent Belize” implies that this text was merely historical, but this essay is clearly argumentative and contemporary.

Example Question #869 : Lsat Reading Comprehension

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 best summarizes the thesis of this passage?

Possible Answers:

"The recent history of Belize gives significant insight into why this should be."

“By this time, two significant and long-lasting precedents had been set.”

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

“In contemporary Belize, almost eighty percent of property and business is owned by outsiders.”

“The majority of people are first- or second-generation independent Belizeans.”

Correct answer:

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

Explanation:

The thesis and purpose of this essay is primarily to document the challenges facing the development of a cohesive Belizean national and cultural identity, but also to suggest that there are reasons to be optimistic. The only answer choice that reflects both this caution and this optimism is “There is little doubt that the road ahead will be challenging, but there are causes for resilient optimism.” The other answer choices are the main points of paragraphs or else only a small portion of the main argument.

Example Question #2 : Other Passage Questions

Adapted from a work by Oscar Wilde in Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde (1914)

Art begins with abstract decoration, with purely imaginative and pleasurable work dealing with what is unreal and non-existent. This is the first stage. Then Life becomes fascinated with this new wonder, and asks to be admitted into the charmed circle. Art takes Life as part of her rough material, recreates it, and refashions it in fresh forms, is absolutely indifferent to fact, invents, imagines, dreams, and keeps between herself and reality the impenetrable barrier of beautiful style, of decorative or ideal treatment. The third stage is when Life gets the upper hand, and drives Art out into the wilderness. That is the true decadence, and it is from this that we are now suffering.

Take the case of the English drama. At first in the hands of the monks Dramatic Art was abstract, decorative, and mythological. Then she enlisted Life in her service, and using some of life’s external forms, she created an entirely new race of beings, whose sorrows were more terrible than any sorrow man has ever felt, whose joys were keener than lover’s joys, who had the rage of the Titans and the calm of the gods, who had monstrous and marvelous sins, monstrous and marvelous virtues. To them she gave a language different from that of actual use, a language full of resonant music and sweet rhythm, made stately by solemn cadence, or made delicate by fanciful rhyme, jeweled with wonderful words, and enriched with lofty diction. She clothed her children in strange raiment and gave them masks, and at her bidding the antique world rose from its marble tomb. A new Cæsar stalked through the streets of risen Rome, and with purple sail and flute-led oars another Cleopatra passed up the river to Antioch. Old myth and legend and dream took shape and substance. History was entirely re-written, and there was hardly one of the dramatists who did not recognize that the object of Art is not simple truth but complex beauty. In this they were perfectly right. Art itself is really a form of exaggeration; and selection, which is the very spirit of art, is nothing more than an intensified mode of overemphasis.

But Life soon shattered the perfection of the form. Even in Shakespeare we can see the beginning of the end. It shows itself by the gradual breaking-up of the blank-verse in the later plays, by the predominance given to prose, and by the over-importance assigned to characterization. The passages in Shakespeare—and they are many—where the language is uncouth, vulgar, exaggerated, fantastic, obscene even, are entirely due to Life calling for an echo of her own voice, and rejecting the intervention of beautiful style, through which alone should life be suffered to find expression. Shakespeare is not by any means a flawless artist. He is too fond of going directly to Life, and borrowing Life’s natural utterance. He forgets that when Art surrenders her imaginative medium she surrenders everything.

Which of the following is the best title for this passage?

Possible Answers:

"Art without the Influence of Life"

"The Corruption of Art"

"Life: The Interloper in Art"

"Shakespeare’s Negative Impact on English Drama"

"The Impact of Art on Life"

Correct answer:

"Life: The Interloper in Art"

Explanation:

When you are asked to give the best title for a passage, you are generally being asked if you understand the thesis and the author’s intention in writing the piece. In this instance, the author’s primary purpose is to argue against the influence of life in artistic expression. The author believes that art has become corrupted by the involvement of life in it; however, the best title is not “The Corruption of Art” because this answer choice only captures a portion of the author’s argument. The answer choice that best represents the whole of the author’s argument is “Life: The Interloper in Art.” An “interloper” is someone or something that interferes in a process and is not welcome. From the whole of the author’s argument, we can clearly see that the author believes life has involved itself detrimentally in the area of artistic expression. The answer choice “The Impact of Art on Life” presents the relationship between the two quantities as if art is affecting life, while in the passage, the author is focused on the ability of life to affect art.

Example Question #871 : Lsat Reading Comprehension

Adapted from Volume 1 of History of Woman Suffrage by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage (1887)

The prolonged slavery of woman is the darkest page in human history. A survey of the condition of humanity through those barbarous periods when physical force governed the world and when the motto "might makes right" was the law enables one to account for the origin of woman's subjection to man without referring the fact to the general inferiority of the sex or Nature's law. Writers on this question differ as to the cause of the universal degradation of woman in all periods and nations.

One of the greatest minds of the century has thrown a ray of light on this gloomy picture by tracing the origin of woman's slavery to the same principle of selfishness and love of power in man that has thus far dominated all weaker nations and classes. This brings hope of final emancipation, for as all nations and classes are gradually, one after another, asserting and maintaining their independence, the path is clear for woman to follow. The slavish instinct of an oppressed class has led her to toil patiently through the ages, giving all and asking little, cheerfully sharing with man all perils and privations by land and sea, that husband and sons might attain honor and success. Justice and freedom for herself is her latest and highest demand.

Another writer asserts that the tyranny of man over woman has its roots, after all, in his nobler feelings; his love, his chivalry, and his desire to protect woman in the barbarous periods of pillage, lust, and war. But wherever the roots may be traced, the results at this hour are equally disastrous to woman. Her best interests and happiness do not seem to have been consulted in the arrangements made for her protection. She has been bought and sold, caressed and crucified at the will and pleasure of her master. But if a chivalrous desire to protect woman has always been the mainspring of man's dominion over her, it should have prompted him to place in her hands the same weapons of defense he has found to be most effective against wrong and oppression.

It is often asserted that as woman has always been man's slave—subject—inferior—dependent, that under all forms of government and religion, slavery must be her normal condition. This might have some weight had not the vast majority of men also been enslaved for centuries to kings, popes, and orders of nobility, who, in the progress of civilization, have reached complete equality.

In an age when the wrongs of society are adjusted in the courts and at the ballot-box, material force yields to reason and majorities. Woman's steady march onward, and her growing desire for a broader outlook, prove that she has not reached her normal condition, and that society has not yet conceded all that is necessary for its attainment.

Which of the following options would best function as a title for this passage?

Possible Answers:

"A Debate on the Causes of Female Subservience"

"The Relationship Between Men and Women Throughout History and The Blame that Can Be Attached to Man"

"A Hope for the Future: How Female Inferiority is Being Mitigated"

"The Origins of Woman’s Enslavement and the Progress Towards Her Liberation"

"The Darkest Chapter in Human History"

Correct answer:

"The Origins of Woman’s Enslavement and the Progress Towards Her Liberation"

Explanation:

Part of this essay focuses on conflicting ideas about the origins of female enslavement to men throughout history. But, another part of it focuses on the progress women have made in recent years towards liberation. So, the answer choice “The Origins of Woman’s Enslavement and the Progress Towards Her Liberation” represents the best title for the essay. The answer choice “The Relationship Between Men and Women Throughout History and The Blame That Can Be Attached to Men” is incorrect because the relationship between men and women is not the primary subject matter, and besides, the author does not blame men in such simple terms. The other answer choices are too limited and focus on only a part of the overall essay.

Example Question #872 : Lsat Reading Comprehension

Adapted from a text by Benjamin Franklin in The Oxford Book of American Essays (1914)

I received my dear friend’s two letters, one for Wednesday and one for Saturday. This is again Wednesday. I do not deserve one for today, because I have not answered the former. But, indolent as I am, and averse to writing, the fear of having no more of your pleasing epistles, if I do not contribute to the correspondence, obliges me to take up my pen.

I am charmed with your description of Paradise, and with your plan of living there; and I approve much of your conclusion, that, in the meantime, we should draw all the good we can from this world. In my opinion we might all draw more good from it than we do, and suffer less evil, if we would take care not to give too much for whistles. For to me it seems that most of the unhappy people we meet with are become so by neglect of that caution.

You ask what I mean? You love stories, and will excuse my telling one of myself.

When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children, and being charmed with the sound of a whistle that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers, sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth, put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money, and laughed at me so much for my folly that I cried with vexation, and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.

This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind, so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don’t give too much for the whistle, and I saved my money.

As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle.

When I saw one too ambitious of court favor, sacrificing his time in attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, This man gives too much for his whistle.

If I knew a miser, who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow-citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth, Poor man, said I, you pay too much for your whistle.

When I met with a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporeal sensations, and ruining his health in their pursuit, Mistaken man, said I, you are providing pain for yourself, instead of pleasure; you give too much for your whistle.

When I see a beautiful sweet-tempered girl married to an ill-natured brute of a husband, What a pity, say I, that she should pay so much for a whistle!

In short, I conceive that great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.

Yet I ought to have charity for these unhappy people, when I consider that, with all this wisdom of which I am boasting, there are certain things in the world so tempting, for example, the apples of King John, which happily are not to be bought; for if they were put to sale by auction, I might very easily be led to ruin myself in the purchase, and find that I had once more given too much for the whistle.

Which one of the following most accurately states the main point of the passage?

Possible Answers:

We should not spend all our money on toys and amusements.

There is only one type of person in this world: foolish.

We should not make foolish decisions because we are jealous of others.

When we are about to do something, we should ask ourselves if it will make us happy.

We should think carefully before we commit everything we have to something.

Correct answer:

We should think carefully before we commit everything we have to something.

Explanation:

The story of the whistle sets the example that regardless of a decision making us happy, there might follow the realization that we have made a mistake. Therefore, the main point of the passage is that we should think carefully before we commit all that we have to something, lest we feel foolish despite our initial happiness at a later time. You could argue some of the other statements, but they are too simple and lack an overall sense of the passage.

Example Question #873 : Lsat Reading Comprehension

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

The third characteristic contribution that the United States has made to civilization has been the safe development of suffrage. The experience of the United States has brought out several principles with regard to the suffrage that have not been clearly apprehended by some eminent political philosophers.

In the first place, American experience has demonstrated the advantages of a gradual approach to universal suffrage over a sudden leap. Universal suffrage is not the first and only means of attaining democratic government; rather, it is the ultimate goal of successful democracy. It is not a cure-all for political ills; on the contrary, it may itself easily be the source of great political evils. When constituencies are large, it aggravates the well-known difficulties of party government; so that many of the ills which threaten democratic communities at this moment, whether in Europe or America, proceed from the breakdown of party government rather than from failures of expanded suffrage. The methods of party government were elaborated where suffrage was limited and constituencies were small. Manhood suffrage has not worked perfectly well in the United States, or in any other nation where it has been adopted, and it is not likely very soon to work perfectly anywhere. It is like freedom of the will for the individual—the only atmosphere in which virtue can grow, but an atmosphere in which vice can also grow. Like freedom of the will, it needs to be surrounded with checks and safeguards, but is the supreme good, the goal of perfected democracy. 

Secondly, like freedom of the will, expanded suffrage has an educational effect that has been mentioned by many writers, but seldom been clearly apprehended or adequately described. This educational effect is produced in two ways. In the first place, the combination of individual freedom with the social mobility a wide suffrage tends to produce permits the capable to rise through all grades of society, even within a single generation; and this freedom to rise is intensely stimulating to personal ambition. Thus capable Americans, from youth to age, are bent on bettering themselves and their conditions. Nothing can be more striking than the contrast between an average American laborer conscious that he can rise to the top of the social scale and a European worker who knows that he cannot rise out of his class and is content with his hereditary classification. 

In the second place, it is a direct effect of a broad suffrage that the voters become periodically interested in the discussion of grave public problems. In no field of human endeavor have the fruits of the introduction of steam and electrical power been more striking than in the methods of reaching multitudes of people with instructive narratives, expositions, and arguments. The multiplication of newspapers, magazines, and books is only one of the immense developments in the means of reaching the people. The interest in the minds of the people that prompts to the reading of these multiplied communications comes from the frequently recurring elections. The more difficult the intellectual problem presented in any given election, the more educative the effect of the discussion.

In these discussions, the people who supply the appeals to the receptive masses benefit alongside them. There is no better mental exercise for the most highly trained person than the effort to expound a difficult subject in so clear a way that an untrained person can understand it. The position of the educated and well-to-do is a thoroughly wholesome one in this respect: they cannot depend for the preservation of their advantages on land-owning, hereditary privilege, or any legislation not equally applicable to the poorest and humblest citizen. They must compete. They cannot live in a too-safe corner.

Which one of the following most accurately states the main point of the passage?

Possible Answers:

The right to vote is often overlooked by intellectuals who are more interested in systems of government.

America's allowing many people to vote offers the country many advantages.

Women should be allowed to vote regardless of society's attitudes about this topic of debate.

To vote is an innate human right.

Voting is what distinguishes the U.S. from other countries.

Correct answer:

America's allowing many people to vote offers the country many advantages.

Explanation:

At the end of the first paragraph, the author states, "The experience of the United States has brought out several principles with regard to suffrage that have not been clearly apprehended by some eminent political philosophers." After this, he spends the rest of the passage listing advantages that the U.S. has gained from its suffrage. Concerning the incorrect answers, the author does not mention women's suffrage; he does not suggest that other countries cannot vote; he does not state that voting is a right as his main point; and while he does address intellectuals ("philosophers" in the previously quoted sentence) overlooking suffrage, it is not his main concern, and he does not say they look mainly at systems of government.

Example Question #874 : Lsat Reading Comprehension

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

The third characteristic contribution that the United States has made to civilization has been the safe development of suffrage. The experience of the United States has brought out several principles with regard to the suffrage that have not been clearly apprehended by some eminent political philosophers.

In the first place, American experience has demonstrated the advantages of a gradual approach to universal suffrage over a sudden leap. Universal suffrage is not the first and only means of attaining democratic government; rather, it is the ultimate goal of successful democracy. It is not a cure-all for political ills; on the contrary, it may itself easily be the source of great political evils. When constituencies are large, it aggravates the well-known difficulties of party government; so that many of the ills which threaten democratic communities at this moment, whether in Europe or America, proceed from the breakdown of party government rather than from failures of expanded suffrage. The methods of party government were elaborated where suffrage was limited and constituencies were small. Manhood suffrage has not worked perfectly well in the United States, or in any other nation where it has been adopted, and it is not likely very soon to work perfectly anywhere. It is like freedom of the will for the individual—the only atmosphere in which virtue can grow, but an atmosphere in which vice can also grow. Like freedom of the will, it needs to be surrounded with checks and safeguards, but is the supreme good, the goal of perfected democracy. 

Secondly, like freedom of the will, expanded suffrage has an educational effect that has been mentioned by many writers, but seldom been clearly apprehended or adequately described. This educational effect is produced in two ways. In the first place, the combination of individual freedom with the social mobility a wide suffrage tends to produce permits the capable to rise through all grades of society, even within a single generation; and this freedom to rise is intensely stimulating to personal ambition. Thus capable Americans, from youth to age, are bent on bettering themselves and their conditions. Nothing can be more striking than the contrast between an average American laborer conscious that he can rise to the top of the social scale and a European worker who knows that he cannot rise out of his class and is content with his hereditary classification. 

In the second place, it is a direct effect of a broad suffrage that the voters become periodically interested in the discussion of grave public problems. In no field of human endeavor have the fruits of the introduction of steam and electrical power been more striking than in the methods of reaching multitudes of people with instructive narratives, expositions, and arguments. The multiplication of newspapers, magazines, and books is only one of the immense developments in the means of reaching the people. The interest in the minds of the people that prompts to the reading of these multiplied communications comes from the frequently recurring elections. The more difficult the intellectual problem presented in any given election, the more educative the effect of the discussion.

In these discussions, the people who supply the appeals to the receptive masses benefit alongside them. There is no better mental exercise for the most highly trained person than the effort to expound a difficult subject in so clear a way that an untrained person can understand it. The position of the educated and well-to-do is a thoroughly wholesome one in this respect: they cannot depend for the preservation of their advantages on land-owning, hereditary privilege, or any legislation not equally applicable to the poorest and humblest citizen. They must compete. They cannot live in a too-safe corner.

Which of the following questions is central to the passage?

Possible Answers:

Why has women's suffrage been ignored or suppressed for so long?

Where has the biggest advance in suffrage been made in terms of sociopolitical structure?

How can we improve European countries by using America as a model?

How is suffrage important to the U.S.?

How has America contributed globally to social and political development?

Correct answer:

How has America contributed globally to social and political development?

Explanation:

Using the beginning of the passage as a guide to answer the question, we can tell that the central message of the passage, and the work from which it is excerpted, is a discourse on the ways in which America has contributed to the advancement of civilization and therefore global social and political development. We can see this from the passage's first paragraph: “The third characteristic contribution that the United States has made to civilization has been the safe development of suffrage. The experience of the United States has brought out several principles with regard to the suffrage that have not been clearly apprehended by some eminent political philosophers."

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