Things Fall Apart

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Mike Funk
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Humanity stands proudly atop the world, the apex predator in a global ecosystem filled with dangerous game. Humanity did not reach the top of the food chain by being the most physically dangerous animal; compared to other predators humans are physically lacking. As a species humans lack the speed and strength of the big cats, the evolutionary poison of the vipers, and the numbers of the insects. What sets humanity apart is intelligence and the power of community. The ability to act off of reason instead of instinct allows humanity to dominate the world. Things Fall Apart is a novel set in tribal Africa which shows both the power and weakness of human reasoning. The protagonist Okonkwo struggles with a time of change and traditional ideas of masculinity, and his actions set against the Kantian idea of rationality shows that even though human logic is our greatest strength, it is not perfect and can be often be overcome by emotion.

The idea of Kantianism is that all people are rational creatures and that by imagining an action to be universal you can see if it is rational and moral. For example, if a person disagrees with you, you shouldn’t stop speaking to them. Because if everyone’s response to a disagreement was to stop communicating, eventually the world would become silent. However, the idea has holes in it. First is the matter of perspective, people as a whole do not view the same actions the same way. Because of upbringing and bias, no one person can accurately consider the effects of his action on a universal scale. What one considers rational, someone else could consider completely irrational. Another glaring error in Kant’s theory is that humans will always act rationally. Human nature is dictated by emotions, and it is more common for a person to act based on these emotions than for them to reflect on the rational choice. There are times when there simply isn’t time to consider your actions logically, this...
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