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Our purpose is to consider some of the most elaborate and thoughtful efforts to define and delineate "all-mastering," and to consider some of the delineations of "all-mastering the intellect" in various guises - from magicians to master spies to detectives to scientists (mad and otherwise). The major written work of the term will be an ongoing reading journal, which you will circulate to your classmates using an e-mail mailing list. The use of that list is fundamental - it is my intention to generate a sort of ongoing cyberconversation. The journals are meant to be a series of articulate analytic encounters with the topics and texts of the subject. I ask you to submit them on the class mailing list so that you can respond to each other as you are moved to do. On a few occasions, I will offer guidance about what issues to confront. But the open-endedness of the task is essential. If you are sorely in need of a series of questions to shape your entry, draw on these "Questions of Mastery":

  1. How is the "mastery" of the "mastermind" shown, in this instance?
  2. Is there any indication given as to how the mastery is attained?
  3. What are the limits of the mastery, or the sacrifices which attainment demands?
  4. How is the mastery employed?
  5. On balance, is the mastery to be commended or condemned?


For grading, I review and reflect upon the following factors:

  • attendance and involvement in the class
  • journal entries
  • final presentation

No one "low point" is determinative.

Having made my reflections, I assign grades:

A = excellence (one sign of which is how much I was taught by the student)
B = solid competence and consistency
C = minimal adequacy. Seemingly, the student is sliding by on low power
D = clearly unacceptable
F = major dereliction. Frequent absence, frequent failure to submit assigned work.

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