Saturday, July 12, 2008

MCAT Prep Writing Sample

2 Essays 60 minutes

Begin time 9:10am

Consider this statement: Men are dependent on circumstances, not circumstances on men. (Herodotus)
Write a unified essay in which you perform the following tasks. Explain the meaning of the above statement. Describe a specific situation where circumstances might be dependent on individuals. Discuss what you think determines whether or not individuals are dependent on circumstances or vice versa.

The statement "Men are dependent on circumstances, not circumstances on men" by Herodotus is one that puts faith in something beyond human control. He states that men are subject to the circumstances, situations, and conditions they already exist in rather than create the conditions around them. It almost seems that Herodotus is pointing in the direction that humans have no control over the conditions they are in, something like divine will, or control is some other fashion holds the reigns. But nevertheless, there are times when circumstances could be made by people. For example, a student who cheats on an exam, and gets caught rendering him 'failed', creates such a circumstance for himself, it was his own act of recklessness, that let him take the risk to cheat and get caught. Nevertheless, Herodotus would argue that there existed a circumstance before his act of cheating that lead him to cheat, such as lack of studying, delinquency, a broken home, a busy schedule, a job, or some other condition that forced the student to cheat , and therefore made him dependent on the circumstance.
I believe that arguing whether men are dependent on circumstance or circumstances on men, is just as inconsequential as arguing whether the chicken or the egg came first. There is no real way to know. A circumstance can be a product of a person's action, which in turn could have been a reaction to a prior circumstance and so on. There is no true notion of which is undoubtedly the independent variable since they both actively bounce off one another. Therefore, I would argue that men depend on circumstances while circumstances depend on me.

Consider this statement: The voluntary death by which a man puts an end to intolerable suffering is really an act of redemption (Ernst Heinrich Haeckel).
Write a unified essay in which you preform the following tasks. Explain what you think the above statement means. Describe a specific situation in which the voluntary death by which a person put an end to intolerable suffering would not be an act of redemption. Discuss what you think determines the choice of voluntary death in the face of human suffering.

The statement : "The voluntary death by which a man puts an end to intolerable suffering is really an act of redemption" is a loaded and broad statement. First, one would need to know what voluntary death means. Is it suicide, homicide, the death penalty, ect? Do we know who the executioner is? Is it the one committing suicide, an outside party, the person suffering at the hands of another, a murderer, an opposing enemy combatant, or a government? Again, we would need to know what the conditions of intolerable suffering, is it a physical, mental, or spiritual suffering, Is it a whole group of people suffering, an individual, or an ideal? Finally, the question of what redemption is being applied for. If all these quetions were specified with a specific answer, then maybe the concept could be true.
Assuming that Haeckel meant voluntary death is the killing of a person who is causing you to suffer in order to save yourself, would that be a justifiable action? Would it be okay for me to kill my neighbor's dog, since at odd hours of the night it barks like a banshee under attack, causing me to lose out on sleep. Would I not be redeemed, saved from the suffering of lack of sleep the very next day, if the barking dog was killed? The thought is atrocious, but according to Haeckel it is completely justifiable , based on his statement.
The quote makes any act of taking a human (or in general) life justifiable. Morality is something that differs from person to person, culture to culture, and religion to religion. Therefore, the quote is loaded with very loose terms that can be defined virtually up to the individual who wants to kill. The life of a person should not be subject to the justifications of others, or even a person's own deluded sense of justification at times. I believe that nothing determines the choice of voluntary death in the face of human suffering, because we were all born to live, to endure and tolerate hardships and suffering, and to adapt to life. Even Jesus, who in Christian faith, is believed to have been killed, sacrificed for the spiritual suffering of mankind, did not choose voluntary death to ease suffering, he was forced into it. (Although in Islamic tradition, we do not believe that he died, and each person self-redeems himself) Nothing justifies voluntary death for human suffering.

Finish Time 9:49am-- comment away... I need feedback... I'm taking the MCAT on September 13th and need to work on my brain skills....

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