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Metaphysics, or the attempt to conceive the world as a whole by me

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New post Updated on: 10 May 2020, 07:39
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Passage # 79, Date: 10-May-2020
This post is a part of Project RC Butler 2020. Click here for Details


Metaphysics, or the attempt to conceive the world as a whole by means of thought, has been developed, from the first, by the union and conflict of two very different human impulses - one urging men towards mysticism, and the other urging them towards science. Some men have achieved greatness through one of these impulses: in Hume, for example, the scientific impulse reigns quite unchecked, while in Blake a strong hostility to science co-exists with a profound mystic insight. But the greatest men who have been philosophers have felt the need both of science and of mysticism: the attempt to harmonise the two was what made their life, and what always must, for all its arduous uncertainty, make philosophy, to some minds, a greater thing than either science or religion.

Before attempting an explicit characterisation of the scientific and the mystical impulses, I will provide examples of two philosophers whose greatness lies in the very intimate blending of science and mysticism which they achieved. The two philosophers I mean are Heraclitus and Plato. Heraclitus, as everyone knows, was a believer in universal flux: time builds and destroys all things. From the few fragments that remain, it is not easy to discover how he arrived at his opinions, but there are some sayings that strongly suggest scientific observation as the source. In Plato, the same twofold impulse exists, though the mystic impulse is distinctly the stronger of the two and secures ultimate victory whenever the conflict is sharp


Q1) According to the information in the passage, which of the following can be concluded about Plato?

A. For Plato, both the scientific and the mystical impulses were equally important
B. Plato and Heraclitus had opposing philosophies
C. Plato relied on the mystical impulse when in doubt
D. Plato did not believe in the concept of universal flux
E. When in conflict, Plato used his knowledge of both the mystical and the scientific impulses to resolve the same



Q2) What is the overall purpose of the passage?

A. To assert that the greatest philosophers are those who have achieved the perfect blend of the mystical and scientific impulses
B. To discuss the history of metaphysics
C. To explain why philosophy is superior to science or religion
D. To provide examples of philosophers who have achieved greatness either through only mystic or scientific impulses or through an amalgam of both
E. To praise philosophers who have achieved a perfect blend of science and mysticism



Q3) Each of the following can be inferred from the passage EXCEPT:

A. Blake and Hume were both inclined more towards mysticism than towards science
B. Metaphysics comprises the interplay of the scientific and the mystical impulses
C. There is no real literary proof of how Heraclitus arrived at his opinions
D. Plato and Heraclitus were similar in some aspects
E. Heraclitus was most likely inclined towards the scientific impulse


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Originally posted by GmatWizard on 08 Nov 2018, 10:22.
Last edited by SajjadAhmad on 10 May 2020, 07:39, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Metaphysics, or the attempt to conceive the world as a whole by me  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Nov 2018, 23:29
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Topic & Scope

To discuss how metaphysics is developed using two contrasting impulses and to provide examples of two philosophers who achieved the ideal blend of these two impulses.

Passage Map

Para 1 describes the two impulses that make up metaphysics and states that the best of philosophers are those who have achieved a perfect blend of these two impulses.
Para 2 provides examples of two such philosophers - Heraclitus and Plato
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New post 11 Nov 2018, 23:33
1

Official Answers and Explanations

Q1) According to the information in the passage, which of the following can be concluded about Plato?
A. For Plato, both the scientific and the mystical impulses were equally important
B. Plato and Heraclitus had opposing philosophies
C. Plato relied on the mystical impulse when in doubt
D. Plato did not believe in the concept of universal flux
E. When in conflict, Plato used his knowledge of both the mystical and the scientific impulses to resolve the same
The last line of the passage states that the mystical impulse was the stronger impulse in Plato and whenever Plato was in conflict or doubt, the mystical impulse won. (C) states this best and is the correct answer.
A - Opposite. The passage clearly states that in Plato the mystical impulse was stronger
B - Out of Scope. The passage never states this. In fact the author provides the example of these two philosophers to show a point of similarity – their near perfect blending of the scientific and mystical impulses
D - Out of Scope. Just because Heraclitus believed in this does not mean that Plato did not
E - Opposite as explained above in A

Q2) What is the overall purpose of the passage?
A. To assert that the greatest philosophers are those who have achieved the perfect blend of the mystical and scientific impulses
B. To discuss the history of metaphysics
C. To explain why philosophy is superior to science or religion
D. To provide examples of philosophers who have achieved greatness either through only mystic or scientific impulses or through an amalgam of both
E. To praise philosophers who have achieved a perfect blend of science and mysticism
The passage primarily talks about the combination of science and mysticism as the ideal combination that makes philosophy superior to science or religion. It then goes on to provide examples of two philosophers who have managed to achieve a near-perfect blend
of these two impulses. (A) follows best from this as the correct answer.
B - Apart from the opening lines, the passage does not really even discuss metaphysics as such
C - While this fact is mentioned in the passage, this is too specific to be the main purpose
D - The main purpose of the passage is more than to just provide examples.
E - While the passage does mention two such philosophers, the entire passage was not written to just praise them but to highlight the underlying theme of their achievement - the amalgam of science and mysticism

Q3) Each of the following can be inferred from the passage EXCEPT:
A. Blake and Hume were both inclined more towards mysticism than towards science
B. Metaphysics comprises the interplay of the scientific and the mystical impulses
C. There is no real literary proof of how Heraclitus arrived at his opinions
D. Plato and Heraclitus were similar in some aspects
E. Heraclitus was most likely inclined towards the scientific impulse
The first para states that it was just Blake who was inclined towards mysticism; Hume was in fact a supporter of the scientific impulse. Hence we cannot infer (A), the correct answer.
B - Can be inferred from the opening lines of the passage
C - The 2nd para clearly states that this belief is actually based on ‗sayings‘
D - The author wrote the 2nd para to highlight this similarity - both of them achieved a perfect blend of science and mysticism
E - Can be inferred from the 2nd para

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New post 10 May 2020, 07:41
+1 Kudos to posts containing answer explanation of all questions
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New post 10 May 2020, 11:36
2:58 minutes in total, 3/3 correct, no way this is a 700 level passage. Can you please check again and update the difficulty level? Thanks!
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New post 11 May 2020, 05:19
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Took a total of 5 minutes 5 seconds to answer all questions correctly.

(03:20)
Q1) According to the information in the passage, which of the following can be concluded about Plato?

A. For Plato, both the scientific and the mystical impulses were equally important
B. Plato and Heraclitus had opposing philosophies
C. Plato relied on the mystical impulse when in doubt
D. Plato did not believe in the concept of universal flux
E. When in conflict, Plato used his knowledge of both the mystical and the scientific impulses to resolve the same

The passage states that "In Plato, the same twofold impulse exists, though the mystic impulse is distinctly the stronger of the two and secures ultimate victory whenever the conflict is sharp". This clearly means that Plato relied on mystical impulse when in doubt, and this is precisely what choice (C) states.

(00:28)
Q2) What is the overall purpose of the passage?

A. To assert that the greatest philosophers are those who have achieved the perfect blend of the mystical and scientific impulses
B. To discuss the history of metaphysics
C. To explain why philosophy is superior to science or religion
D. To provide examples of philosophers who have achieved greatness either through only mystic or scientific impulses or through an amalgam of both
E. To praise philosophers who have achieved a perfect blend of science and mysticism

The passage consists of two paragraphs. While the first paragraph talks about constitutes Metaphysics, the second asserts the author's stance. The author clearly favours an amalgamation of both the human impluses - scientific and mystical. Now, let's do PoE on the answer options.
(A) This is a very strong choice there. It states exactly what the author wants to tell us through the passage.
(B) Explaianing history is not really the main point. This choice is very generic and does not talk about the author's advocacy of a combination of scientific and mysticial impluses.
(C) The author does not claim that philosophy is superior to science or religion. This information is baseless and incorrect.
(D) The purpose is not to provide examples but to tell us which philosophers are better.
(E) Of course the author is in favour of the philosophers who have achieved a perfect blend of science and mysticism, but prasising them is not the main purpose. The praise is only to justify the author's stance that these philosophers comply with.


(01:17)
Q3) Each of the following can be inferred from the passage EXCEPT:

A. Blake and Hume were both inclined more towards mysticism than towards science - Hume was inclined more towards science. This choice is the correct option.
B. Metaphysics comprises the interplay of the scientific and the mystical impulses - This is directly stated in the first paragraph.
C. There is no real literary proof of how Heraclitus arrived at his opinions - According to the passage, there are "few fragments that remain". Saying that there are NO proofs available is unwarranted.
D. Plato and Heraclitus were similar in some aspects - This is stated in the second paragraph.
E. Heraclitus was most likely inclined towards the scientific impulse - stated in the second paragraph.
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Metaphysics, or the attempt to conceive the world as a whole by me   [#permalink] 11 May 2020, 05:19

Metaphysics, or the attempt to conceive the world as a whole by me

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