LSAT Reading : Analyzing Humanities Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for LSAT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #71 : Tone, Structure, And Purpose Of Humanities Passages

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.

The author most likely refers to steam and electrical power in order to do what?

Possible Answers:

To show his knowledge of how technology can affect people

To show the advancement in contemporary technology

To describe how technology has aided communications

To distinguish between the modern and the antiquated

To elaborate on how communication aids advances in transportation

Correct answer:

To describe how technology has aided communications

Explanation:

The author mentions the two technologies to show how they have aided the speed of communication and therefore the ability for people to communicate with others regarding political matters. “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.” So, the author's mentioning of these advances is an attempt to underline how they have aided communication, which in turn has helped people take part in the political discourse of the country.

Example Question #72 : Tone, Structure, And Purpose Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from Deeds of a Great Railway by G. R. S. Darroch (1920)

August 4th, 1914, was not fated after all, as we know, to be a day of disaster. That it was not so is perhaps attributable in the main to two causes. "Miraculous" is the manner in which escape from disaster has been described; but the miracle was performed primarily and essentially by the loss of those "many thousands of brave men whose sacrifice we deplore, while we regard their splendid gallantry and self-devotion with unstinted admiration and gratitude." A secondary, but by no means inconsiderable, cause contributory to the successful working of the miracle lay in the fact that we did possess the "order," the "certainty," in regard to moving that part of the army detailed for home defense, and of the six divisions of which the original Expeditionary Force was composed, and which were flung across the Channel to assist in stemming the initial German onrush. And it is with regard to this "order," this "certainty," and the attendant successful working of the railways that the ensuing pages are concerned.

We have already traced in some degree of detail the antecedents of the Railway Executive Committee, that body of distinguished civilian railway experts, who, from the time that the government assumed, under provisions of the Act of 1871, nominal control of the railways, became, and throughout the war remained, responsible to the government for the maintenance and the efficient working of the entire railway systems of the British Isles; and in order to acquire some insight into the amazing and complex detail involved in this efficient working, we cannot very well do better than probe a few of the more salient facts concerning the London and North-Western Railway, which, on the outbreak of hostilities, and appropriately enough, was deputed to act as the "Secretary" Company to the Western and Eastern Commands and afterwards to the Central Force.

In a report dated October 1st, 1914, Mr. L. W. Horne, secretary to the "Secretary" Company to the Commands previously mentioned, describes the measures that were adopted both prior to and during mobilization, in conformity with the War Office program.

Owing to the "very drastic alterations in the mobilization time tables" made by the War Office, a staff was specially appointed to deal with the matter, and as a result of herculean efforts, "on mobilization being ordered, not only was our scheme complete, but time tables and sheets numbering many thousands were ready for immediate issue."

Special troop trains were "signaled by a special code of 4-4-4 beats," this code signifying "precedence over all other trains," ordinary passenger service being curtailed as occasion demanded. Seven hundred and fifty-one special trains were required for the "large quantities of stores, equipment, etc.," and "in order to ensure that such consignments should be worked forward without delay," it was agreed that "they should be given 'Perishable transit.'"

As will doubtless be within the memory of most of us, on August 3rd, 1914, Sir Edward Grey was in a position to inform the House that "the mobilization of the Fleet has taken place.” The credit for the promptitude of this precautionary measure was in due course claimed by Mr. Winston Churchill, and resulted shortly afterwards in the resignation from his post as a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty of Prince Louis of Battenberg, eldest son of Prince Alexander of Hesse, Germany. The message spontaneously addressed by His Majesty the King to Admiral Sir John Jellicoe ran, "I send you, and through you to the officers and men of the Fleets . . . the assurance of my confidence that under your direction they will revive and renew the old glories of the Royal Navy, and prove once again the sure shield of Britain." To enable officers and men to "revive and renew the old glories of the Royal Navy," coal, not canvas, was needed, this entailing the provision forthwith of six hundred and fifty-one special trains for the conveyance of approximately 150,000 tons of Admiralty coal from the South Wales collieries to certain points on the East Coast.

The primary purpose of the passage is most likely __________.

Possible Answers:

to continue a discussion of the management of railways with specific reference to World War I

to conclude an argument concerning the success of the use of trains during World War I

to discuss the first time a railway was used in a war effort

to open a chapter on the benefits of using a railway during wartime

to discuss the management of trains when war breaks out

Correct answer:

to continue a discussion of the management of railways with specific reference to World War I

Explanation:

The passage does not seem to conclude much and is not exactly an introduction, as it alludes to previous discussions. We can assume that it continues a previous discussion about the management of the railways and we can say there is a specific reference to the use of the railways during wartime. Other than this, we cannot argue that the passage has another purpose. The remaining answers are inadequate or attempt to say that the passage does things that it does not do.

Example Question #73 : Tone, Structure, And Purpose Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Diary Of Samuel Pepys (1893) by Samuel Pepys.

September 1st. Up and at the office all the morning, and then dined at home. Got my new closet made mighty clean against to-morrow. Sir W. Pen and my wife and Mercer and I to "Polichinelly," but were there horribly frighted to see Young Killigrew come in with a great many more young sparks; but we hid ourselves, so as we think they did not see us. By and by, they went away, and then we were at rest again; and so, the play being done, we to Islington, and there eat and drank and mighty merry; and so home singing, and, after a letter or two at the office, to bed.

2nd (Lord's day). Some of our maids sitting up late last night to get things ready against our feast to-day, Jane called us up about three in the morning, to tell us of a great fire they saw in the City. So I rose and slipped on my nightgowne, and went to her window, and thought it to be on the backside of Marke-lane at the farthest; but, being unused to such fires as followed, I thought it far enough off; and so went to bed again and to sleep. About seven rose again to dress myself, and there looked out at the window, and saw the fire not so much as it was and further off. So to my closet to set things to rights after yesterdays cleaning. By and by Jane comes and tells me that she hears that above 300 houses have been burned down to-night by the fire we saw, and that it is now burning down all Fish-street, by London Bridge. So I made myself ready presently, and walked to the Tower, and there got up upon one of the high places, Sir J. Robinson's little son going up with me; and there I did see the houses at that end of the bridge all on fire, and an infinite great fire on this and the other side the end of the bridge; which, among other people, did trouble me for poor little Michell and our Sarah on the bridge. So down, with my heart full of trouble, to the Lieutenant of the Tower, who tells me that it begun this morning in the King's baker's' house in Pudding-lane, and that it hath burned St. Magnus's Church and most part of Fish-street already. So I down to the water-side, and there got a boat and through bridge, and there saw a lamentable fire. Poor Michell's house, as far as the Old Swan, already burned that way, and the fire running further, that in a very little time it got as far as the Steeleyard, while I was there. Everybody endeavouring to remove their goods, and flinging into the river or bringing them into lighters that layoff; poor people staying in their houses as long as till the very fire touched them, and then running into boats, or clambering from one pair of stairs by the water-side to another. And among other things, the poor pigeons, I perceive, were loath to leave their houses, but hovered about the windows and balconies till they were, some of them burned, their wings, and fell down. Having staid, and in an hour's time seen the fire: rage every way, and nobody, to my sight, endeavouring to quench it, but to remove their goods, and leave all to the fire, and having seen it get as far as the Steele-yard, and the wind mighty high and driving it into the City; and everything, after so long a drought, proving combustible, even the very stones of churches, and among other things the poor steeple by which pretty Mrs.————lives, and whereof my old school-fellow Elborough is parson, taken fire in the very top, an there burned till it fell down: I to White Hall (with a gentleman with me who desired to go off from the Tower, to see the fire, in my boat); to White Hall, and there up to the Kings house in the Chappell, where people come about me, and did give them an account dismayed them all, and word was carried in to the King. So I was called for, and did tell the King and Duke of Yorke what I saw, and that unless his Majesty did command houses to be pulled down nothing could stop the fire. They seemed much troubled, and the King commanded me to go to my Lord Mayor—[Sir Thomas Bludworth.]—from him, and command him to spare no houses, but to pull down before the fire every way. The Duke of York bid me tell him that if he would have any more soldiers he shall; and so did my Lord Arlington afterwards, as a great secret.

Here meeting, with Captain Cocke, I in his coach, which he lent me, and Creed with me to Paul's, and there walked along Watlingstreet, as well as I could, every creature coming away laden with goods to save, and here and there sick people carried away in beds. Extraordinary good goods carried in carts and on backs. At last met my Lord Mayor in Canningstreet, like a man spent, with a handkerchief about his neck. To the King's message he cried, like a fainting woman, "Lord! What can I do? I am spent: people will not obey me. I have been pulling down houses; but the fire overtakes us faster than we can do it." That he needed no more soldiers; and that, for himself, he must go and refresh himself, having been up all night. So he left me, and I him, and walked home, seeing people all almost distracted, and no manner of means used to quench the fire. The houses, too, so very thick thereabouts, and full of matter for burning, as pitch and tar, in Thames-street; and warehouses of oil, and wines, and brandy, and other things. Here I saw Mr. Isaake Houblon, the handsome man, prettily dressed and dirty, at his door at Dowgate, receiving some of his brothers' things, whose houses were on fire; and, as he says, have been removed twice already; and he doubts (as it soon proved) that they must be in a little time removed from his house also, which was a sad consideration.

Which one of the following statements describes an example of the function accorded to London Bridge?

Possible Answers:

An iconic sight during the blaze.

A break in the fire's path.

A sign of finery in the city.

A highway of the city.

A place for housing.

Correct answer:

A place for housing.

Explanation:

We can tell that the bridge had housing as the author states: “I did see the houses at that end of the bridge all on fire, and an infinite great fire on this and the other side the end of the bridge; which, among other people, did trouble me for poor little Michell and our Sarah on the bridge.” “Michell and our Sarah's” houses being on the bridge. This takes careful examination to infer although, again, elimination can be used as the author does not mention it being a highway of the city.

Example Question #74 : Tone, Structure, And Purpose Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from Rough Riders (1899) By Theodore Roosevelt

Up to the last moment we were spending every ounce of energy we had in getting the regiment into shape. Fortunately, there were a good many vacancies among the officers, as the original number of 780 men was increased to 1,000; so that two companies were organized entirely anew. This gave the chance to promote some first-rate men.

One of the most useful members of the regiment was Dr. Robb Church, formerly a Princeton football player. He was appointed as Assistant Surgeon, but acted throughout almost all the Cuban campaign as the Regimental Surgeon. It was Dr. Church who first gave me an idea of Bucky O'Neill's versatility, for I happened to overhear them discussing Aryan word roots together, and then sliding off into a review of the novels of Balzac, and a discussion as to how far Balzac could be said to be the founder of the modern realistic school of fiction. Church had led almost as varied a life as Bucky himself, his career including incidents as far apart as exploring and elk hunting in the Olympic Mountains, cooking in a lumber camp, and serving as doctor on an emigrant ship.

Woodbury Kane was given a commission, and also Horace Devereux, of Princeton. Kane was older than the other college men who entered in the ranks; and as he had the same good qualities to start with, this resulted in his ultimately becoming perhaps the most useful soldier in the regiment. He escaped wounds and serious sickness, and was able to serve through every day of the regiment's existence.

Two of the men who made Second Lieutenants by promotion from the ranks while in San Antonio were John Greenway, a noted Yale football player and catcher on her baseball nine, and David Goodrich, for two years captain of the Harvard crew. They were young men, Goodrich having only just graduated; while Greenway, whose father had served with honor in the Confederate Army, had been out of Yale three or four years. They were natural soldiers, and it would be well nigh impossible to overestimate the amount of good they did the regiment. They were strapping fellows, entirely fearless, modest, and quiet. Their only thought was how to perfect themselves in their own duties, and how to take care of the men under them, so as to bring them to the highest point of soldierly perfection. I grew steadily to rely upon them, as men who could be counted upon with absolute certainty, not only in every emergency, but in all routine work. They were never so tired as not to respond with eagerness to the slightest suggestion of doing something new, whether it was dangerous or merely difficult and laborious. They not merely did their duty, but were always on the watch to find out some new duty which they could construe to be theirs. Whether it was policing camp, or keeping guard, or preventing straggling on the march, or procuring food for the men, or seeing that they took care of themselves in camp, or performing some feat of unusual hazard in the fight—no call was ever made upon them to which they did not respond with eager thankfulness for being given the chance to answer it. Later on I worked them as hard as I knew how, and the regiment will always be their debtor.

Greenway was from Arkansas. We could have filled up the whole regiment many times over from the South Atlantic and Gulf States alone, but were only able to accept a very few applicants. One of them was John McIlhenny, of Louisiana; a planter and manufacturer, a big-game hunter and book-lover, who could have had a commission in the Louisiana troops, but who preferred to go as a trooper in the Rough Riders because he believed we would surely see fighting. He could have commanded any influence, social or political, he wished; but he never asked a favor of any kind. He went into one of the New Mexican troops, and by his high qualities and zealous attention to duty speedily rose to a sergeantcy, and finally won his lieutenancy for gallantry in action.

The tone of the officers' mess was very high. Everyone seemed to realize that he had undertaken most serious work. They all earnestly wished for a chance to distinguish themselves, and fully appreciated that they ran the risk not merely of death, but of what was infinitely worse—namely, failure at the crisis to perform duty well; and they strove earnestly so to train themselves, and the men under them, as to minimize the possibility of such disgrace. Every officer and every man was taught continually to look forward to the day of battle eagerly, but with an entire sense of the drain that would then be made upon his endurance and resolution. They were also taught that, before the battle came, the rigorous performance of the countless irksome duties of the camp and the march was demanded from all alike, and that no excuse would be tolerated for failure to perform duty. Very few of the men had gone into the regiment lightly, and the fact that they did their duty so well may be largely attributed to the seriousness with which these eager, adventurous young fellows approached their work. This seriousness, and a certain simple manliness which accompanied it, had one very pleasant side. During our entire time of service, I never heard in the officers' mess a foul story or a foul word; and though there was occasional hard swearing in moments of emergency, even this was the exception.

Which one of the following statements describes an example of the function accorded to the men's training by the men themselves?

Possible Answers:

To make them understand the harsh nature of war.

To make them into heroes.

To distinguish them from regular soldiers.

To make them miserable so they would be thankful later on.

To prepare them to carry out their task without mistake.

Correct answer:

To prepare them to carry out their task without mistake.

Explanation:

The author explains that, to the men, training was ensuring that when the time came they would distinguish, or prove, themselves. “They all earnestly wished for a chance to distinguish themselves, and fully appreciated that they ran the risk not merely of death, but of what was infinitely worse—namely, failure at the crisis to perform duty well; and they strove earnestly so to train themselves, and the men under them, as to minimize the possibility of such disgrace.” Their training was then a preparation to carry out their task without mistake as they desired to, under any circumstance, act perfectly within the line of duty.

Example Question #75 : Tone, Structure, And Purpose Of Humanities Passages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which one of the following statements describes an example of the function accorded to alms in the passage?

Possible Answers:

A source of contention

Relief for the needy

A method of self-affirmation

Monetary relief to beggars that people have mixed feelings towards

Money given for the benefit of society as a whole

Correct answer:

Monetary relief to beggars that people have mixed feelings towards

Explanation:

The most apt answer involves the entire function accorded to alms in the passage rather than one of its composite parts. As the author says, “Giving alms to common beggars is naturally praised because it seems to carry relief to the distressed and indigent, but when we observe the encouragement thence arising to idleness and debauchery, we regard that species of charity rather as a weakness than a virtue.” So, it is a type of charity that causes argument, as some people see it as morally good whereas others see it as morally bad.

Example Question #76 : Tone, Structure, And Purpose Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from Past and Present by Thomas Carlyle (1843)

How true, for example, is that other old Fable of the Sphinx, who sat by the wayside, propounding her riddle to the passengers, which if they could not answer she destroyed them! Such a Sphinx is this Life of ours, to all men and societies of men. Nature, like the Sphinx, is of womanly celestial loveliness and tenderness; the face and bosom of a goddess, but ending in claws and the body of a lioness. There is in her a celestial beauty,— which means celestial order, pliancy to wisdom; but there is also a darkness, a ferocity, fatality, which are infernal. And does she not propound her riddles to us? Of each man she asks daily, in mild voice, yet with a terrible significance, “Do you know the meaning of this Day? What can you do Today, or wisely attempt to do?” Nature, Universe, Destiny, Existence, howsoever we name this grand unnameable Fact in the midst of which we live and struggle, is as a heavenly bride to the wise and brave, to them who can discern her behests and do them; a destroying fiend to them who cannot.

With Nations it is as with individuals: Can they rede the riddle of Destiny? This English Nation, will it get to know the meaning of its strange new Today? Is there sense enough extant, discoverable anywhere or anyhow, in our united twenty-seven million heads to discern the same; valor enough in our twenty-seven million hearts to dare and do the bidding thereof? It will be seen!

The secret of gold Midas, which he with his long ears never could discover, was that he had offended the Supreme Powers—that he had parted company with the eternal inner Facts of this Universe, and followed the transient outer Appearances thereof. Properly it is the secret of all unhappy men and unhappy nations. Had they known Nature's right truth, Nature's right truth would have made them free; but they have forgotten the right Inner True, and taken up with the Outer Sham-true. They answer the Sphinx's question wrong.

Foolish men imagine that because judgment for an evil thing is delayed, there is no justice, but an accidental one, here below. Judgment for an evil thing is many times delayed some day or two, some century or two, but it is sure as life, it is sure as death! In the center of the world-whirlwind, verily now as in the oldest days, dwells and speaks a god. The great soul of the world is just. O brother, can it be needful now at this late epoch of experience to remind thee of such a fact; which all manner of old Pagan Romans, Scythians, and heathen Greeks, and indeed more or less all men, have managed at one time to see into; nay which thou thyself, till redtape philosophy strangled the inner life of thee, hadst once some inkling of: that there is justice here below, and even, at bottom, that there is nothing else but justice! Forget that, thou hast forgotten all. Success will never more attend thee: how can it now? Thou hast the whole Universe against thee.

Which one of the following statements describes an example of the function accorded to the Supreme Powers?

Possible Answers:

They gave Midas donkey's ears and the golden touch as punishment. 

They were lost in ancient cultures but have been found again in England.

They can impart the answer to the riddle of destiny.

They punish the foolish and aid the diligent.

They are what Parliament must answer to.

Correct answer:

They gave Midas donkey's ears and the golden touch as punishment. 

Explanation:

Although we could probably answer this question with more than one of the answers using inference, we can only really say that the author gives the "Supreme Powers" one function in the passage, and that is the ridiculing of Midas by giving him donkey's ears and the touch of gold: “The secret of gold Midas, which he with his long ears never could discover, was, That he had offended the Supreme Powers.”

Example Question #77 : Tone, Structure, And Purpose Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson in The Oxford Book of American Essays (1914)

It is natural to believe in great men. If the companions of our childhood should turn out to be heroes, and their condition regal, it would not surprise us. All mythology opens with demigods, and the circumstance is high and poetic; that is, their genius is paramount. In the legends of the Gautama, the first men ate the earth, and found it deliciously sweet.

Nature seems to exist for the excellent. The world is upheld by the veracity of good men: they make the earth wholesome. They who lived with them found life glad and nutritious. Life is sweet and tolerable only in our belief in such society, and actually or ideally we manage to live with superiors. We call our children and our lands by their names. Their names are wrought into the verbs of language, their works and effigies are in our houses, and every circumstance of the day recalls an anecdote of them.

The search after the great is the dream of youth and the most serious occupation of manhood. We travel into foreign parts to find his works—if possible, to get a glimpse of him. But we are put off with fortune instead. You say the English are practical; the Germans are hospitable; in Valencia the climate is delicious; and in the hills of the Sacramento there is gold for the gathering. Yes, but I do not travel to find comfortable, rich, and hospitable people, or clear sky, or ingots that cost too much. But if there were any magnet that would point to the countries and houses where are the persons who are intrinsically rich and powerful, I would sell all, and buy it, and put myself on the road today.

The people go with us on their credit. The knowledge that in the city is a man who invented the railroad raises the credit of all the citizens. But enormous populations, if they be beggars, are disgusting, like moving cheese, like hills of ants or of fleas—the more, the worse.

Our religion is the love and cherishing of these patrons. The gods of fable are the shining moments of great men. We run all our vessels into one mould. Our colossal theologies of Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, are the necessary and structural action of the human mind. The student of history is like a man going into a warehouse to buy clothes or carpets. He fancies he has a new article. If he goes to the factory, he shall find that his new stuff still repeats the scrolls and rosettes which are found on the interior walls of the pyramids of Thebes. Our theism is the purification of the human mind. Man can paint, or make, or think nothing but man. He believes that the great material elements had their origin from his thought. And our philosophy finds one essence collected or distributed.

Other men are lenses through which we read our own minds. I count him a great man who inhabits a higher sphere of thought, into which other men rise with labor and difficulty; he has but to open his eyes to see things in a true light, and in large relations, whilst they must make painful corrections and keep a vigilant eye on many sources of error. His service to us is of like sort. It costs a beautiful person no exertion to paint his or her image on our eyes; yet how splendid is that benefit! It costs no more for a wise soul to convey his quality to other men. And everyone can do his best thing easiest. He is great who is what he is from nature, and who never reminds us of others.

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

Possible Answers:

To represent past knowledge

To challenge deities from the realm of men

To add strength to our sense of greatness

To commence all legends

To add high lyricism to stories

Correct answer:

To commence all legends

Explanation:

The function accorded to demigods by the author is as follows: “All mythology opens with demigods, and the circumstance is high and poetic; that is, their genius is paramount.” So, of the answers, the one that is most easily supported is that demigods are at the beginning of all mythology and that they are extremely great in knowledge or deeds. We could say from this that their function is to represent past knowledge, but this is not fully stated by the text. We can say, however, that they commenced legends in that their deeds started or opened all legends.

Example Question #78 : Tone, Structure, And Purpose Of Humanities Passages

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.

The primary purpose of the passage is most likely __________.

Possible Answers:

to form part of a list of U.S. contributions to mankind’s betterment

to reminisce about the past when not many people were allowed to vote

to propagate details about why all Americans should have the right to vote

to form the third part of an argument on the American voting system

to list one of the ways in which America is great

Correct answer:

to form part of a list of U.S. contributions to mankind’s betterment

Explanation:

The passage is obviously from a larger piece in which the author is lists ways in which America has contributed to human civilization. We know this as the passage states as much in its first few lines: “The third characteristic contribution which the United States have made to civilization has been the safe development of a manhood suffrage nearly universal.” One could say the author is listing ways in which America is great, but if that is so, it is not the main point of the passage.

Example Question #79 : Tone, Structure, And Purpose Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Monk by Matthew Lewis (1796)

The monks having attended their abbot to the door of his cell, he dismissed them with an air of conscious superiority in which humility's semblance combated with the reality of pride. He was no sooner alone, than he gave free loose to the indulgence of his vanity. When he remembered the enthusiasm that his discourse had excited, pride told him loudly that he was superior to the rest of his fellow-creatures.

“Who,” thought he; “Who but myself has passed the ordeal of youth, yet sees no single stain upon his conscience? Who else has subdued the violence of strong passions and an impetuous temperament, and submitted even from the dawn of life to voluntary retirement? I seek for such a man in vain. I see no one but myself possessed of such resolution. Religion cannot boast Ambrosio's equal! How powerful an effect did my discourse produce upon its auditors! How they loaded me with benedictions, and pronounced me the sole uncorrupted stalwart of the church! What then now is left for me to do? Nothing, but to watch as carefully over the conduct of my brothers as I have hitherto watched over my own. Yet hold! May I not be tempted from those paths which till now I have pursued without one moment's wandering? I must now abandon the solitude of my retreat; the fairest and noblest dames of Madrid continually present themselves at the abbey, and will use no other confessor. Should I meet some lovely female in that world that I am constrained to enter, lovely . . . as you, Madonna . . . !”

As he said this, he fixed his eyes upon a picture of the Virgin, which was suspended opposite to him. This for two years had been the object of his increasing wonder and adoration. He paused, and gazed upon it with delight.

“What beauty in that countenance!” He continued after a silence of some minutes. “Oh! If such a creature existed, and existed but for me! Gracious God, should I then resist the temptation? Should I not barter for a single embrace the reward of my sufferings for thirty years? Should I not abandon . . . Fool that I am! Whither do I suffer my admiration of this picture to hurry me? Away, impure ideas! Let me remember that woman is forever lost to me. Never was mortal formed so perfect as this picture. But even did such exist, the trial might be too mighty for a common virtue, but Ambrosio's is proof against temptation. Temptation, did I say? To me it would be none. It is not the woman's beauty that fills me with such enthusiasm; it is the painter's skill that I admire, it is the divinity that I adore! Are not the passions dead in my bosom? Have I not freed myself from the frailty of mankind? Fear not, Ambrosio! Take confidence in the strength of your virtue.”

Here his reverie was interrupted by three soft knocks at the door of his cell. With difficulty did the abbot awake from his delirium. The knocking was repeated.

“Who is there?” said Ambrosio at length.

“It is only Rosario,” replied a gentle voice.

“Enter! Enter, my son!”

The door was immediately opened, and Rosario appeared with a small basket in his hand.

Rosario was a young novice belonging to the monastery, who in three months intended to make his profession. A sort of mystery enveloped this youth, which rendered him at once an object of interest and curiosity.

The author most likely describes the attributes of the painting through the eyes of Ambrosio primarily __________.

Possible Answers:

to show that the monk is openly wanton

to make the psychology of the abbot mysterious

to defend the notion that all men are fallible

to weaken the stature of the character

to show that the character is further flawed

Correct answer:

to show that the character is further flawed

Explanation:

The writer does not make any implication that he wants you to make an analysis of Ambrosio's character, though this is something you may naturally do. The key to this question is the understanding that the piece is part of a narrative and that the description of the painting is just another part of the narrative. Ambrosio's stature in the eyes of the reader is already weakened by his pride, so the description of the painting from his perspective shows that he has more than one flaw: firstly, his pride and secondly, his lust. The monk is not openly wanton, as he is talking in supposed privacy.

Example Question #80 : Tone, Structure, And Purpose Of Humanities Passages

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

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

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

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

What does the author intend to prove in the underlined statement “The cultured Hellenes murdered their prisoners of war without hesitation?”

Possible Answers:

That both the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians practiced violence in ways almost incomprehensible to a contemporary audience. 

That the Ancient Greeks were a cultured civilization, but also more than capable of abhorrent acts of violence.

That the Ancient Egyptians suffered heavily in their wars with the Ancient Greeks.

That the Ancient Greeks were significantly less humane than the Ancient Egyptians, when compared at the same time period. 

That the Ancient Greeks were significantly less humane than the Ancient Egyptians throughout the history of the two peoples. 

Correct answer:

That the Ancient Greeks were significantly less humane than the Ancient Egyptians, when compared at the same time period. 

Explanation:

During this section of the passage the author is describing the relative levels of understanding attached to the value of human life in the ancient civilizations of Greece and Egypt. Here we can take the word “cultured” as a sarcastic comment by the author who is clearly arguing that the Ancient Greeks were less “civilized” than the Ancient Egyptians of the same time period. It is also relevant to note the author’s bias with regard to his own society. His comparison between the behavior of General Grant in the Civil War with that of the Ancient Greeks may be regarded as a logical fallacy - primarily because it seeks to make a general statement about two societies from a very small (one example) sample size. The answer choice “both the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians practiced violence in ways almost incomprehensible to a contemporary audience” is perhaps relevant to the overall discussion, but in this specific extract it is not the correct option. 

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