For this assignment you will be using argumentative writing techniques to compose your own argumentative literary analysis essay that answers one of the following questions.
Choose one of the following questions and write an argumentative essay that answers your chosen question. You will need to choose at least two readings that will provide support for your paper.
Literary Analysis of "Outlier: The Story of Success" and "The Sports Gene"
As early as the Ancient Greeks and continuing into the present, philosophers have pondered the theory that human actions are preordained or determined by external forces or fate. Other philosophers believe that we live in a deterministic universe and free will is an illusion. However, the universal law of cause and effect rejects that theory. According to this law, every cause or action has a predictable effect and the effects we create in our lives are a direct result of causes that come from within ourselves (Sicinski). Destiny is controlled by the ideals of the mind. An ideal is a value or principle that drives a person towards success. To have ideals is to acquire high moral standards, desires, or aspirations and actively work towards goals for ourselves. The idea of "freedom" is in constant contradiction with the connection between the individual, nature and society, the demands that society makes on the individual, and the individual's dependence on the world (Spirkin). An individual's thoughts, behavior, and actions create specific effects that manifest and create a desired lifestyle (Sicinski). While humans have no control over external conditions such as cultural background, genetics, and environment, these factors are mostly associated to what influences people to behave and act in a certain way. Depending on the person's thought-processes, desires, goals, emotions, and beliefs, it manifests itself in decisive actions as they move forward in life. Although human beings are constrained by life's external circumstances, within those constraints, free will is entirely determined by one's moral choices and actions. Defining success around personal values gives humans control of whether they succeed or fail. Success or failure is the result of our actions. It is up to people to decide who they are and what they become and to keep growing through effort and hard work to achieve greater potential. People's destinies hinge on factors they do not control, though they may be able to enhance the direction of their lives' outcomes.
Within Malcolm Gladwell's non-fiction excerpt, "Outliers: The Story of Success" he examines the foundations of success, hard work, ambition, and ability by discussing his theory behind "the ten-thousand-hour rule" that argues the concept of practice over innate talent. Outliers are people who are extraordinarily gifted in certain subjects or skills. Gladwell reveals that innate talent plays a smaller role in the process of their development than does preparation, which he considers the key to success in any field of endeavor. According to his theory of success, it takes ten thousand hours (or approximately 10 years) to achieve at levels much higher than normal successful individuals do. Gladwell writes, "What truly distinguishes successful people is not their extraordinary talent but their extraordinary opportunities" (Gladwell). In this case, the circumstances and conditions surrounding our lives are significant influential factors that determine a person's success. In the early 1990s, psychologist K. Anders Ericsson and two colleagues at Berlin's elite Academy of Music divided the school's violinists into three groups and found that the most accomplished of those students had put in an average of ten thousand hours of practice by the time they were twenty years old. As a result of his study, "he and his colleagues couldn't find any "naturals," musicians who floated effortlessly at the top while practicing a fraction of the time their peers did" (Gladwell).
In addition, it is in fact because of these hidden advantages, cultural legacies, and extraordinary opportunities that allow us to work hard in ways others cannot. Cultural legacies are the conditions that are introduced at birth along with the beliefs, values, and knowledge that have been passed down from one generation to another. It affects one's chances of success in life because everyone's culture has different terms for success and means to achieving it. People may grow up in different environments that can influence the way they think and may not align with that of their antecedents. Gladwell claims, "Success is the result of what sociologists like to call "accumulative advantage" (Gladwell). In particular, those "considered" to have a small advantage become better at a certain aspect because they are given access to more opportunities and possibilities that result in success. Gladwell says, "When you look at the lives of successful people, you see these patterns of advantages; they were given gifts that allowed them to work harder, to exploit their talents" (Gladwell). For example, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the most influential musician, was considered to be a child prodigy. His father, Leopold Mozart, was a talented violinist and musical instructor and exposed him to music, giving him the opportunity to learn at a very early age. As his father taught him how to play the piano, his passion for music developed. At the age of six, he was touring Europe and writing his own pieces. According to music critic Harold Schonberg, he didn't produce his greatest work until he had been composing for more than twenty years (that is until age twenty one.) Mozart's father's legacy and exposure to the music world greatly influenced his pursuit in music interest.
Furthermore, to answer this big question David Epstein explores the science of success, discussing the roles of natural talent and nurtured practice on elite athletic performance as well as distinguishing between the concept of nature versus nurture in his non-fiction excerpt "The Sports Gene." In short, the "nature versus nurture" debate involves whether human behavior (physiological characteristics for instance) are influenced by genetic inheritance/biological predispositions (nature) or by environmental variables acquired after conception such as childhood experiences and cultural surroundings (nurture). Epstein examines the interplay between biological endowments and trainability on human athleticism. Many physiologists agree that some of these factors include things such as nutrition, motivation, supportive training environments, and advances in equipment that all allow for development in athletic performance (Quinn). An individual's "trainability" or response to training is partially dependent on genetic factors. A person's genes may also determine their body's response to training, diet and other external factors. While Epstein acknowledged how practice and repetition are vital to an athlete's success, he notes individuals learn at different rates. Epstein writes, "The same medicine should not be prescribed for every athlete. For some, less training is the right medicine" (Epstein). It is important to note in the high jumping sport the Achilles tendon is a vital physical component to a high jumpers performance, the longer and stiffer the Achilles tendon, the more ability to store and release elastic energy. In evidence, Epstein explains, "Tendon stiffness can be increased by training, but there is also growing evidence that stiffness is partially influenced by an individual's version of genes involved in making collagen, a protein in the body that helps build ligaments and bones" (Epstein 4). Considering an athlete's genetic limitations, many of these skills such as balance, agility, reaction times, and accuracy can be greatly improved with the proper training (Quinn). An individual's reaction to training and practice vary and so, to understand better how to improve their abilities and outcomes, we have to understand how they respond to the environment and different training methods. In support of this observation, Epstein illustrated the tale of two high jumpers, Stefan Holm and Donald Thomas and their levels of athletic success. Holm who had started training at just six years old, was highly dedicated to the sport, he had improved his jumping heights year after year. Holm was only 5'11", which was considered dwarf height in the high jumping sport. He developed an Achilles tendon four times stiffer than average due to his training regime. Thomas, on the other hand, who was 6'2" with long legs, and an abnormally long Achilles tendon, had picked up the high-jumping technique with no prior training. While Holm had conditioned his body to high jump through twenty-one years of training and hard work to achieve this technique, Thomas had a natural advantage over Holm that allowed him to excel (after only eight months of training) and become a world class high jumper.
In conclusion, it takes a combination of factors, opportunities, skills, and unique individual characteristics to become a successful person. It takes a lot more than simply being talented to reach high achievement. People create their own destinies with the given tools.
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