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STANFORD SUPP- intellectual vitality- CULTURE AND MORALITY


helloimyellow 9 / 25 3  
Dec 25, 2013   #1
Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development. (250 word limit.)
I am a self-proclaimed cultural fanatic. But even more so, a morality freak. Concepts of right and wrong never fail to engage me as does diversity. Having traveled a good deal in recent years, I have hybridized these two obsessions and a new fixation has arisen: The Cultural Basis of Relative Morality.

For years I was a staunch believer in absolute morality, a standpoint only fortified by my Christian upbringing. However, investigations of diversity formed observations and, from those observations, questions. Lots of them. For example, why was spitting on the ground "wrong" in America but routinely acceptable in China? The answer here was simple: Culture. But that raised yet another inquiry: Can there be moral variation within a uniform culture? It is this that piqued my interest. How can right and wrong vary based on the individual? How is it that "Thou shalt not kill" is preached daily and yet our pastor's son is a soldier?

The answer is context. Every action has a time and place that deems it moral or immoral in context, a concept otherwise known as relative morality. Initially this sounds like an excuse but it is undeniably practical. Absolutism is predictable and mankind has consistently proven itself to be anything but predictable. Perhaps it is ideal but relative morality is necessary as circumstantial variances form the basis of diversity. Nonetheless, absolutism unites us in humanity. Now a new issue has emerged: Which is more important, diversity or humanity? For what is humanity without diversity?

Does the essay make sense and is it even slightly convincing? Also- are there too many questions? They fit fine before but now it seems a little like a rhetoric overdose.. I had some trouble cutting an original essay down to meet the 250 word limit and am not quite sure that it flows/is cohesive anymore :\ Please help!

AnnieKim611 3 / 12 1  
Dec 25, 2013   #2
I feel like rather than answering the question, you present more questions. This is a prompt where you are to demonstrate your idea or experience not pose more. Bring the reader to the conclusion that you are a "moral fanatic" illustrate it, dont just say it outright. "Walking behind a man down the sidewalk of my city I see him spit without care. Surely if I was in China this wouldnt be accepted..." etc... Direct the prompt towards yourself instead of presenting moral framework. Hope this helps!

" Concepts of right and wrong never fail to engage me as does diversity. Having traveled a good deal in recent years, I have hybridized these two obsessions and a new fixation has arisen: The Cultural Basis of Relative Morality. " -Give an example of where you traveled and how you challenged or question their beliefs.
OP helloimyellow 9 / 25 3  
Dec 25, 2013   #3
Thanks for the feedback! I will definitelywork with the questions and the illustration aspect :)
Overall do you think the topic of morality fits the prompt as far as "intellectual vitality" is concerned?
SilverKnight 15 / 55 4  
Dec 27, 2013   #4
The primary purpose of this essay should be to showcase your love of discovery and your ability to go beyond your comfort zone. Ideally, you should write about a discovery or an epiphany, when the light bulb suddenly goes off and you to yourself, "Hey, I never noticed that before." In a way you do that. However, what you show is that your inquiry led to confusion not answers. That's not what colleges, especially a place like Stanford, want to see. Also, the topic of morality fits just fine if it's the topic that you feel most strongly about.

(If you want, you can completely ignore this paragraph. It is purely my opinion.) On a side note, I have to disagree with the point you presented in your last paragraph. Context and Practicality do not justify immoral behavior. It really is just an excuse. Husbands who cheat on their pregnant wives use this kind of thinking to rationalize their behavior. They say to themselves, "She's not pleasing me, she can't please me, so I'll temporarily find someone who will." I understand that you trying to tie in the differing cultural perceptions of what is right and what is wrong. However, I do not believe that "Context" or "Practical" are the proper words to use in this case. Context could mean taking part in mob activity that you wouldn't do if you were by yourself. For the purpose of argument, I would strongly suggest changing your choice of words. They could easily be misconstrued.

I hope I was helpful.
OP helloimyellow 9 / 25 3  
Dec 27, 2013   #5
Thanks, SilverKnight, I hadn't realized how ineffective my word choice had been. I think it has definitely misconstrued my intended point (Ex. I believe abortion is immoral but if the mother had been raped then I cannot oppose abortion with a clear conscience.. not trying to support unfaithful lovers or peer pressure:\ ). I will work on rewriting this (may just drop the cultural aspect and focus on morality alone-- 250 words is a squish) and likely post a newer version soon

Also-- I had interpreted "intellectual development" to be open to developments still in progress..Did i misinterpret the prompt? Should my "intellectual pursuit" be conclusive instead?


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