Group work on The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Note: If you were not in class for this group exercise, please complete it as a written exercise and turn it in as soon as you can.

Break up into small groups. Discuss your answers to the following. Delegate one or more members of your group to prepare an oral summary of your group's discussion.

1. Do you know someone (I'll use the name 'N') who has decided to put others down seemingly as a way of life? Describe their behavior. Does it extend into racism or something like it? Why or why not?

2. Have you met a person (I'll use the name 'O') who has decided that one of their missions in life is to cure others of ambition and hopeful expectation, the kind of person who would say, "You're too stupid to be a physician?" or who peppers conversations about your dreams by telling you that it is not realistic to do what you want to do? How does O's philosophy reflect O's own life and experience? Is O talking about you or O?

3. How was Malcolm X called to his vocation? How was he trained? Is there a sense in which his entire life was leading to his mission? What do you think of the idea of having a calling?

4. Have you ever met anyone who had a calling and heeded it? What happened?

5. Have you ever met anyone who had a calling and tried to avoid it or was prevented from fulfilling it by others? What happened?

6.  In any of the examples discussed above, do you see a pattern that creates or maintains a situation of injustice?  (If so, or if not), how do those in (and out of) power respond to this sort of thing?

Michael Kagan, for Philosophy 403, Heroism and the Human Spirit
Last revised Oct. 20, 2000.

Back to Kagan's homepage
Back to the materials for PHL 403, Senior Seminar on Heroism and the Human Spirit