LitLink

This is a course blog for the members of EH236 at the University of South Alabama, Spring 2006.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

What is Prejudice

In the Encyclopedia of Diderot and d'Alembert, Jaucourt describes prejudice as, "- a false judgment made by the mind about the nature of things after an insufficient exercise of the intellectual faculties, this unhappy fruit of ignorance thwarts the understanding, blinds and imprisons it." In Jaucourt's article he talks about prejudice not always being a matter of judgment being taken by surprise when covered up by false hope. He states that idols of prejudices originate from nature of the understanding, "Or from the preoccupation of the judgment, which stems in turn either from the obscurity of ideas or the diversity of impressions derived from the disposition of senses, or from the influence of the passions, always mobile and changing."
Jaucourt address that there are universal prejudices. He writes about the hereditary prejudiced in human beings. He states, "A man sees a fact of nature, attributes it to certain cause because he prefers to err rather than to doubt; in vain does experience expose the falsehood of his conjectures, the first opinion prevails." One statement made by Jaucourt that I found highly insightful was, "Graves hide the doctor's mistakes, while those who recover publicize their supposed cures." In this quote the idea of diminishing the glow of power around the positive aspects is not an option in prevailing the truth. Jaucourt goes on the explain that there is a principle to the theory, "Nature always acts by the most simple means; there's the general maxim; prejudice applies it to all particular facts, and desires all phenomena to submit to this law."
There are personal and temperamental prejudices and Jaucourt states, "- which vary in mankind according to change in the constitution of the humors, the strength of habit, and the transformations wrought by age." Jaucourt gives the example, "For the mind of man is as if imprisoned in the senses, and while eyes glut themselves on the spectacle of nature, a thousand prejudices are formed in the imagination, and in turn enslave the reason."He shares that there are public and conventional prejudices, "which may be considered the apotheosis of error; such is the prejudice of customs always ancient, fashions always new, and language. He states last that there are prejudices of school or faction, based on incorrect notions, or on principles with no truths behind them.
At the end of the article Jaucourt shares, "Let man then rid himself of his prejudices, and approach nature with the pure eyes and uncorrupted sentiments that a modest virgin would inspire; he will contemplate her in all her beauty, worthy of all joy he finds in the detail of her charms." With that article Jaucourt breaks down all the parts to the meaning of prejudice and shows us just how the "desease" infects the human mind. In the last quote he is showing the utopian idea of how we has humans should behave, with the purest of souls.

Emily Jackson

2 Comments:

Blogger Kimberly said...

I think you did a great job of answering the questions thoroughly. The way you expressed your own thought(s) after each quotation was especially affective. I was able to follow along with ease, your essay had a nice rhythm to it.What was your personal thoughts on the article, as well as prejudice in general?

9:43 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

You have a good summary of the article. You go over the main pooints well but I would like to know more about how you interpret or feel about this prejudice Jaucourt describes.

8:26 AM  

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