Mea anima est tamquam tabula rasa.
(Paul of Venice, ca. 1369-1429, theologian annd philosopher, Aristotle’s De
Anima 430a attributed)

My soul is as a blank page.

(pron = MAY-ah AH-nee-mah ehst TAHM-kwahm TAH-boo-lah RAH-sah)

Comment: The question in Intro to Philosophy in my undergraduate program was
this: do human beings come into life as blank pages, or do they come with
something already I tact, a divine spark, so to speak? It was a debate between
the thoughts of Aristotle and Plato that our professor was attempting to create.
I don’t remember how it turned out.

I do remember that when I was in seminary, the question surfaced again in
discussions around anthropology of theology: what does it mean to be human.
And years later, when I entered teaching, this same question came up again:
the child who enters your room, whether a kindergardener or a junior in high
school—does he/she come as a blank page for you (the teacherr) to write on, or
has this human being entered the room with something important already in place
that perhaps you (the teacher) have to learn from?

I’ve always leaned toward Plato’s side of the question, probably via Socrates.
Socratic questioning has always been intriguing to me. One cannot ask
questions of a blank page—and expect to get anything back. The teacher who
faces a room full of blank pages won’t ask questions anyway. He/she will come
prepared with full lectures—and plenty of ink with which to fill those blank
pages. The socratic teacher enters a room full of divine sparks, asks a few
well placed questions, and enjoys the light show. The reality is, though, that
we can and do leave our imprints on others--especially children, for good and
for ill. My own view is that human beings come with something already in
place--divine sparks for lack of a better term, AND that children are treated
as blank pages which the adults in their lives write all over from the
beginning. Very often, the divine spark gets lost underneath everyone else's

What difference does it make how we view others around us—blank pages or sparks
that have been there from before the beginning?

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
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