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In Any Field Of Endeavor, It Is Impossible To Make A Significant Contribution Without First Being Strongly Influenced By Past Achievements Within That Field. - With Free Essay Review



“Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.”

The claim made is that without being strongly influenced by past achievements, you cannot make significant contributions in your field. In my opinion, usually the case is that one requires inspiration from previous successes in the field. However, it is not impossible to make a considerable contribution without having been influenced by previous milestones in the field.

Many prominent people have been inspired by the work of the people before them in a particular field. For example, Einstein was inspired the work of Newton before him: Newton set the basis for the work that Einstein did. Similarly, Maxvell’s electromagnetic equations could not have been derived without him taking inspiration from the work done previously by other scientists on electromagnetic waves. Moreover, many philosophers have made significant contributions by gaining inspiration from the works of Aristotle and Socrates.

However, this does not mean that some one cannot make a mark in his field, without having been motivated by other peoples work. Sometimes people come up with concepts that are unique to a field, and consider a dimension in the field that was never considered before. For example Noam Chomsky has done work on how the ability to speak develops, without building up on anyone’s work and giving a fresh perspective on the mechanism behind the ability to speak. In fact he has been so successful that he is the most cited living author in history.

To conclude, in most of the cases people make contributions by gaining inspiration and insight from past successes. However, there are a few people that give a different line of thought in their field without being strongly influenced by previous work done in the field.

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Essay Review

This essay is reasonably well written from a structural and grammatical point of view. Its argument also seems reasonable enough - you're certainly not saying anything outrageous or obviously false. But the argument that most contributors are influenced by past achievements while some few are not depends almost entirely on (a) a few examples and (b) your implicit assertion that the number of examples that one could find of contributors having been influenced would be greater than the number of examples that one could find of wholly original contributors. Making (b) explicit in this case would obviously only be a minor improvement, for the reader would still have no reason to believe the assertion. Perhaps one could try to infer the truth of original statement from the very difficulty one has of coming up with counterexamples, but that would be a weak inference.

What you really need in the essay are some general reasons that would explain the fact that so many, and perhaps all, of those who make significant contributions are strongly influenced by past achievements; and after that you need some general, abstract discussion of the ways in which it might be possible for some to make a significant contribution without having been strongly influenced. Perhaps it would help to think about how significant contributions tend to be made in specific fields of endeavor. It has been argued, for example, by old Harry Bloom, that great authors make their contribution by way of an attempt to overcome the influence of their precursors (I don't think he says that they actually overcome that influence). Scientists tend deliberately to build on the work of their precursors except, it could be argued (and roughly speaking has been argued by Thomas Kuhn), when a discipline reaches a crisis (when experiments begin to produce results that consistently deviate from predictions) at which point you might think something like a radical break with the past is necessary for the discipline to progress. (I don't believe in radical breaks, or "revolutions," and nor do you to judge by your remarks on Einstein and Newton, but that is neither here nor there). In any case, you don't need to be, or have read, Bloom or Kuhn, to come up with some abstract arguments about how contributions are made.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: 13100021
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