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Tulane Honors Program

Monday, March 27, 2006

Honors Week is Here!

Good Monday Everyone! Today is the first day of Honors Week! (And Homecoming...) I hope that you all can make our various events and be a part of our new tradition.

Today – BBQ 11:30 on the Academic Quad (in front of Hébert) including a rockclimbing wall for entertainment.

Wed – Round table 4:00 in Butler House Lounge: Our own Evan Sparks, Senior Tulane College, “What does it mean to be honorable?” Evan has provided some links of thought provoking readings, be sure to check them out before Wed if you get the chance (see below).

Thurs –
Lunch in Bruff 12 noon with Noam Scheiber,
Tulane College ‘98, Rhodes Scholar and Senior Editor of The New Republic and our keynote speaker.

Keynote Lecture 6pm Stone Auditorium Noam Scheiber, “Rules, Norms, & Politics in the Bush Era.” Open to everyone.

Please invite your friends and come celebrate Honors Week!

Readings for Wed Round Table:

The discussion topic is: "What does it mean to be honorable?" To stimulate thinking on honor and the concepts surrounding it, here are some suggested resources and excerpts from them:

Thucydides, "The Funeral Oration of Pericles," from The Pelopponesian War.

Pericles argues in a funeral oration for felled Athenian soldiers that honor is self-sacrificing and communitarian. The highest form of honor, then, is giving up one's own life for his fellows.

"I have dwelt upon the greatness of Athens because I want to show you that we are contending for a higher prize than those who enjoy none of these privileges, and to establish by manifest proof the merit of these men whom I am now commemorating. Their loftiest praise has been already spoken. For in magnifying the city I have magnified them, and men like them whose virtues made her glorious. And of how few Hellenes can it be said as of them, that their deeds when weighed in the balance have been found equal to their fame! I believe that a death such as theirs has been the true measure of a man's worth; it may be the first revelation of his virtues, but is at any rate their final seal. For even those who come short in other ways may justly plead the valor with which they have fought for their country; they have blotted out the evil with the good, and have benefited the state more by their public services than they have injured her by their private actions. None of these men were enervated by wealth or hesitated to resign the pleasures of life; none of them put off the evil day in the hope, natural to poverty, that a man, though poor, may one day become rich. But, deeming that the punishment of their enemies was sweeter than any of these things, and that they could fall in no nobler cause, they determined at the hazard of their lives to be honorably avenged, and to leave the rest. They resigned to hope their unknown chance of happiness; but in the face of death they resolved to rely upon themselves alone. And when the moment came they were minded to resist and suffer, rather than to fly and save their lives; they ran away from the word of dishonor, but on the battlefield their feet stood fast, and in an instant, at the height of their fortune, they passed away from the scene, not of their fear, but of their glory."

C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man,
Lewis asks (and answers) the question of whether there is a connection between absolute truth and ethics: namely, whether honor has a moral code. Chapter 1 is immensely valuable. Here is the final paragraph:

"And all the time˜such is the tragi-comedy of our situation˜we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more 'drive', or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or 'creativity'. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful."

Josiah Bunting, An Education fo Our Time.

General Bunting, a former VMI superintendent, Rhodes scholar, and Vietnam War veteran, writes in the context of higher education about how honor has become obscured by other metrics of achievement. Here he specifically refers to college rankings.

"The utility of such practices is zero. No, worse than zero. Everything that we should value and exalt in the way we educate our young people is ignored utterly; or if not ignored, forgotten or unknown. What kind of men and women teach the students? What do they teach them? For what have such numbers, such rankings, to do with what the undergraduates will become when they are forty or sixty?"

Theodore Roosevelt, What College Graduates Owe America.

The essay is here (1.2MB).


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