Learning Skills

Representing
Complex Ideas


For General Education 110

Plato, The Allegory of the Cave and The Divided Line, from The Republic

For General Education 111

Rousseau, The Discourse on Inequality

Complex Ideas

   Up until this point, you are accustomed to dealing with simple ideas. These are ideas that can be stated in a few sentences and require only a few arguments to be developed. College-level thinking, however, requires thinking through complex ideas. These are ideas that require a large number of arguments and a large number of subsidiary arguments and ideas in order to be fully developed. Complex ideas and arguments are ideas or arguments that are built off of a number of other ideas and arguments. If you were to restate a complex idea, it's necessary that you understand and restate all the subsidiary ideas. A simple idea can be represented by a simple sentence; a complex idea has to be represented by all the subsidiary ideas in their proper order and relationship.
   Representing a complex idea or argument is similar to writing a study guide. First, you need to identify the central problem or argument. Then you need to identify all the parts of the argument and all the parts of each of these arguments. You then need to define the relationship between these parts and how they lead to the conclusion the argument arrives at.

The Assignment

For General Education 110

   On this assignment, I want you to provide a two paragraph summary of Plato's discussion of the Divided Line and the Allegory of the Cave. Identify the main point that Plato is trying to make and then identify all the subordinate arguments that Plato constructs in order to arrive at that point. Include all the important aspects of these subordinate arguments and how they relate to the points of other subordinate arguments. The grading for this assignment will include my summary of Plato's argument; compare your summary to mine and identify the differences.

For General Education 111

   On this assignment, I want you to produce a two to three paragraph summary of Rousseau's argument about the nature of society and the individual in The Discourse on Inequality, Part Two. Identify the main argument that Rousseau is making and then identify all the subordinate arguments that Rousseau constructs in order to support this main argument. Include all the important aspects of these subordinate arguments and how they relate to important aspects of the other subordinate arguments. You may also print your answer and turn in a hard copy if you want to rather than using the following form.
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