Class Notes Tuesday February 23

Reminder to always have ready the annotations [scanned in PDF files], ready to send when professor ask.

There was a brief review-discussion of the Blatantly Obvious (“The Secret” Parody).

At the beginning of this parody there is a sticky note that reads: “be kind, rewind” which is referring to re-purposing. The secret is an idea that was recycled and repurposed. Even Rhonda Byrne mentioned that the original book was 100 years old.

On minute 3:50 there is a reference to “Good Feelings, Feels Good” and vice versa which apparently means that: “whispering something makes it sound more provocative.”

On minute 4:15 there is a reference to the “3 steps” Decide, Find, Buy it. LOL

On minute 5:15 someone says that: “everyone has potential, but it is limited by social class, education, race, etc.

Ironically, the comedians are engaging in the “essence” of the secret even when they are mocking it.   Parody can sometimes help us to think critically.

Among the keys of self-help are: re-purposing, resilience, and grit.

Samuel Smile paved the way for the self-help industry.


GRIT : courage, determination, perseverance.

RESILIENCE : flexibility, adaptability.

UTILITARIAN: practical.


Work in groups

Group 1 : The Preface, Introduction y Table of Contents.

Group 2: Chapter 1

Group 3: Chapter 4

There will be presentations on Thursday.





People’s Choice Post #2: Self-Help (Samuel Smiles)

Just like we did for The Secret read through your classmates’ reading response blogs on Self-Help; with Illustrations of Conduct and Perseverance and choose your favorite post. You can choose a post for any reason, but you always must clearly articulate your rationale for choosing it (e.g., why did you find it interesting, compelling, likeable, provocative, etc.?). This rationale can refer to content, style, creativity, etc. If, after reading everyone’s posts, you strongly feel that your post is your “favorite,” you can always vote for yourself, but you need to provide a rationale for doing so.

In order to register your vote (and get credit) for this week’s “People’s Choice,” “leave a reply” to this post, and in your comment, provide your chosen post, an excerpt from it + rationale for choosing it. Provide the title and author of the chosen post, along with a link to the post you are citing (please provide the link in the same comment: don’t make a separate one with just the link). Citing is really important (in this case, citing your classmate!), and this is a way of giving credit to other sources and putting yourself in dialogue with them.

Comments/votes are mandatory (regardless of whether you completed your own reading response post on Smiles’ Self-Help should be made by Thursday, 2/25 by 9am: the person with the most votes will earn the coveted “People’s Choice” honor for this round of posts! I’m looking forward to seeing what you choose, and why.

Samual Smiles Notes

        The title of Samual Smiles’ “Self-Help, with Illustrations of Conduct and Perseverance ” was taken as something that would be instructive with examples of experiences of individual that preserved no matter what downfalls experienced. I found it interesting that the title was mentioned in the prefix( p.4 ) in how it is misjudged and considered selfishness. Although the different views of the title or book it is available in but not limited to French, German, Dutch, and Danish editions. 

    This book is expressed to target young men as those who need to rely on one self and no verses others. That growth is done through failures. “Failure is the best discipline of the true worker, by stimulating him to renewed efforts”.(prefix p.5) This illustrates that failures are magnified as a necessary tool for growth. Beyond the prefix the reader will get a abnormal description of each chapter and notice the pages themselves lack numbers. 

     Chapter one is a more so guideline of what men should consider an outlet and what could possible hinder their perseverance. “Heaven helps those who help themselves”(Smiles p.18) Suggest men should look within themselves it also goes on to deter men from the government by stating it has a restrictive affect on them on page 20. Self-help is the antidote to Caesarisum. “Caesarisum is human idolatry in its worst form-a worship of mere power, as degrading in its effects as the worship of mere wealth would be”.(Smiles p.20) Knowledge and need to accomplish go hand and hand, without one the other would be worthless.

Chapter four goes on to emphasize the importance of not only perseverance ,but establishing the importance of the mind and heart correlation. “Locke, Helvetius, and Diderot believe that all men have equal aptitude for genius”(p.92) As important as that may seem Smiles also mentions the importance of accomplishing your task cheerfully. 

  I choose chapter five merely because of the title “Helps and Opportunities- Scientific Pursuits. Science has always been a grounded subject with fact based findings or theories that can or can not be proven. In this chapter it starts off by mentioning on (page 111) that “accidents does very little toward the production of any great result in life”. There for there is no force that can cause your course ,but your own actions, knowledge, and will to follow through. Accomplishment comes with time and in this we observe and example of this by the example given on Dr.Jenner among  many others in this chapter. Dr.Jenner caught my eye because he was in the vaccination development and understanding  for small-pox. Since we are currently experiencing a time where vaccinations are controversial , Dr.Jenner experienced this adverse reaction as well in London. After being shamed he tried it on his own sons and other willing people that would accept such a vaccine. Those individuals were scene as people that can possible get mutations and forced to stay inside their homes. It wasn’t until Lady Ducie and Countess of Berkeley accepted their children get vaccinated was it widely accepted. He declined London’s offer of practice. This chapter is filled with examples such as Dr.Jenner and how failures became part of their triumph. 

    I would consider this book a hard read based on the amount of information crammed into each chapter I’ve read. The metaphors  are overly used which makes the text deterring. I do on the other hand appreciate the book for telling some of these important people’s full journeys and not just what they accomplished.      

Edward Jenner. Oil painting. Wellcome V0023503.jpg



See the source image


Reading Response #2

Self-Help by Samuel Smiles was a somewhat difficult read to me because of the time period it was published in.  There were many unfamiliar words that were used that made me lose Smiles’ train of thought, though I wrote them down in my annotations. And some of the points seemed all over the place, while others were repeated just as The Secret by Rhonda Byrnes.  The main ideas I got from reading these three chapters is that 1) being patient and actually working towards your goals will pay off, 2) anything someone else does you can do too, and 3) the home environment we grow up in shapes our lives.

In Chapter I:  Self-Help –National and Individual, Smiles states we are where we are now through the thinking and actions of men. He pushes the idea that you don’t necessarily need to be a genius in order to do great work. To become successful in something you just need to push yourself and keep working at it. He kept repeating the idea that “a man perfects himself by work more than reading” (Smiles 22). And that the greatest contributors we know to science, literature, and art have mainly come from poor and humble beginnings– some with not much of an education. Smiles believes it is the difficulties these people have faced that have helped them fuel their work (Smiles 22-23).  Outside of academics, what we do in our daily lives also plays a part in how successful we are.

In Chapter IV:  Application and Perseverance, Smiles directly talks about the genius being.  He says genius can be defined only as common sense intensified (Smiles 91). These individuals constantly work on the same ideas in order to fully grasp it, but they are also susceptible to their own share of hardships as anyone else is. This can be anything from having your years work of calculations being accidentally caught on fire like Isaac Newton or finding only bits and pieces of your 200 drawings because Norwegian rats chewed through them like John Audubon had (Smiles 96-97). Although frustrating, if they had given up at those points we wouldn’t see the hand they had in science and art respectively today. “To know how to wait is the great secret to success” (De Maistre 94). Another important idea in this chapter is “any man can do what any other man has done” (Dr. Young 96).

The extra chapter I chose to read was Chapter XII:  Examples –Models.  This chapter focuses again on how action will get you to where you want to be, but also how this is instilled in us as children, and how we are able to continue this cycle in our adult life. When we were younger we did many things because we saw the adults in our lives doing it.  Seeing things leaves more of an impression than hearing and reading. We have always been led by example. As adults we need to surround ourselves with others just like us, or that are “better” than us.  And we need to keep in mind that we are better off alone rather than be in bad company. Smiles says “good rules may do much, but good models far more; for in the latter we have instruction in action” (307).

I agree with this idea of surrounding yourself with like people because with them you won’t find that you are deterring from any goals you have set to achieve. You will also have others that will inspire you and motivate you to keep pushing forward when things get tough. Overall I believe this text was better than The Secret by Rhonda Byrnes because it’s more realistic and can be seen as relatable. The author Samuel Smiles is basically trying to push people to do what they want to do. He tells the stories of others so you won’t feel alone and he doesn’t make any promises that are out of reach.

Sam Smiles

In chapter 1, it seems like the author is referring to the individuals who live expecting everything from the government while they do nothing to help themselves. They will never find happiness nor wellbeing unless such individuals work on themselves and not waste time: “a person has time when he leaves no minute unemployed.” I include myself on the list of procrastinators, and yes there would time if every minute would be well spent.

In chapter 4 I like the Italian proverb “who goes slowly goes long” which at the same time remind me of the fable of the turtle and the rabbit.” In which the perseverance of the turtle made him win the competition despite that the rabbit was faster. The history of Joseph Hume is also compelling because regardless that he was mocked, he maintained his perseverance and became a surgeon.

I chose chapter 12 EXAMPLES MODELS “there is no action of man in this life, which is not the beginning of a long chain of consequences…” AND  “the moral health of an individual depends on the moral atmosphere that is breathed.” And because of these maxims one should improve oneself to set an example for children. These maxims also parallel with the fact that if we want something done. We must do ourselves.

As mentioned in the book no individual in the universe stand itself… Hence, we should change the words and actions we put out there to create a better atmosphere.

Another thing that I found interesting is the fact that the author mentions: “rather be alone that in bad company.” Because nowadays most people rather be in company than alone.

Reading Response #2 Self Help by Samuel Smiles

Self Help by Samuel Smiles, while confusing I think told a pretty clear message. I believe similar to The Secret by Rhonda Byrne the book quickly becomes extremely repetitive, but it does not promote harmful views like The Secret. I found the introduction interesting, because I love a good origin story (and this book gave me more than enough origin stories). The story of the men that came together solely for the purpose of becoming better educated and a better person in general is inspiring. Throughout the book the author tells many stories of how these great names that are established in history became so great. And majority of these great people did not come from a special family name, or wealth. Nor did these historical figures consider their selves exceptional. But one thing the all had in common was how hard they worked for the things they wanted to achieve. And that is the main point that the author is trying to get across. Through slow diligence, and perseverance you can achieve the highest accomplishments. Smiles also writes about how valuable life lessons and true changes to mankind can only be done through hard work. For my extra chapter I read chapter 7 which is called Industry and Peerage. I really loved the story about John Scott (Lord Eldon). Working his way up from being a poor newly eloped man to working on the parliament, it is clear his hard work paid off. In conclusion I think this book could be interesting to read once in a while, just to hear the inspiring stories of great historical figures. But the language is difficult and lengthy and I feel like the main point is understood from the first few pages.


Reading Response #2

Self-Help by Samuel Smiles is a very interesting but confusing text. This text was published in 1815 and believe me you can tell. the text didn’t have much flow and almost seemed to be said in either riddle or very formal. Chapter 1 talked about National and Individual, the author goes on and on about government and legislation with hints of self help words I am familiar with but I don’t seem to get his points, maybe I need to increase my reading in older literature. This text seems like less of a self help text and more like an old English speech about topics I do not understand.

Chapter IV much like chapter 1 has a very formal approach, it speaks about Helps and Opportunities and Scientific Pursuits. This chapter felt like I was reading a science textbook rather than a self help book, there really wasn’t anything grasping my attention or making me feel as thought this text could help me or others with “self help”.

I chose to read Chapter IX Money and Abuse as my extra chapter. The chapter begins with “HOW a man uses money — makes it, saves it, and spends it — is perhaps one of the best tests of his practical wisdom.” a very wise quote. This chapter was more interesting to me although I don’t think it directly relates to self help, I do think it had more interesting qualities that the other chapters. The author seemed to talk more about morality and character within this chapter which can be taken into consideration when pursuing self help but not as direct self help advice.

All in all the text seemed a little date to me, you really have to read between the lines and apply the words and stories into your own self help. I do think this text has some good but overall the lack of flow and use of formality created an unenjoyable read.


Self-Help by Samuel Smiles: Industry and the Peerage

In chapter 1, the quote “HEAVEN helps those who help themselves” is described as a well-tried maxim, embodying in a small compass the results of vast human experience. This quote stands out to me as I often use it to motivate myself to get things done. I ask God to help me as I have helped myself and it is known in the Bible that God helps those who help themselves. This contributes to the ambition, determination, and drive of a person. One is more willing to complete tasks and do things independently if they know that they would receive blessings and favorable outcomes from God. This also gives persons a sense of inner satisfaction and pride within themselves if they get tasks done on their own.

In chapter 4, the quote, “Allez en avant, et la foi vous viendra!” by D’Alembert, when translated means “Go forward, and faith will come to you!” This means that if one masters the art of everyday duties and consistency, they will achieve success in their other endeavors. The simple things and tasks of everyday life contribute to one’s self- improvement. If a person is used to doing something regularly, they would use their knowledge and apply it to all aspects of their life. Ordinary and common qualities are just as important and needed as skill related qualities.

I chose chapter 7, which is called, “Industry and the Peerage.” Peerage can be defined as the title or peer or peeress. Many persons have risen from poverty or being less fortunate to holding top positions and having power in society. With the force of application and industry, an ordinary person can achieve rank and success, if they acquire the qualities of common traits and hard work. They start from nothing with nothing and achieve everything later on in life.

“He either fears his fate too much,

Or his deserts are small,

That dares not put it to the touch,

To gain or lose it all.”—Marquis of Montrose

In order for one to achieve everything great that they want in life, they need to apply themselves both physically and mentally, with and without the help of others, practicing common qualities and consistency. The journey to success is long and hard but when one achieves it, they would receive satisfaction and rank.

Robby Deleon – Reading Response #2

Before I begin pretending I know what I’m talking about, I want to let it be known that this was the most confusing thing I’ve read since I took Philosophy in the 2019 fall semester. I’m not sure what it was about this text, maybe it was the fact that it’s ancient, maybe it’s because the author is really intelligent, or maybe it’s just because I’m not smart enough. But whatever it was I will admit that I was lost way too many times while reading this. I’m still going to attempt to explain exactly what I read but I cannot emphasize enough how much I believe my analysis of what I read is probably far from what I actually read. 

The first chapter of the text is called “Self-Help National And Individual”, and from what I got from the first part of the chapter is probably what the “national” part meant. I can’t go in depth because as I said before I was really confused reading this, but I believe it was stating how important it is for people to help themselves rather than getting help from others. I remember the nation being brought up multiple times and the idea of self-help relating to that so it could possibly be saying with the way society is, helping oneself will always be the best move. As I continued to read I began to notice a pattern, and it was how it kept bringing up stories of people who started at a really low rank with not alot of money and worked their way up to high success all through self-help. A Lot of these consisted of people who taught themselves to read, write and a lot of the skills you would normally get in school. After seeing this pattern over and over again I came across a quote from Sir Humphry Davy on page 26 of the pdf who said “What I am I have made myself: I say this without vanity, and in pure simplicity of heart.” This might seem ridiculous but this quote showed me that, in a way, I was right about what I thought I was reading and these men were in fact starting from the ground and using self-help to become successful. 

Chapter 4 is called “Application and Perseverance” and it begins speaking about how these great people who gained success using self-help didn’t gain it just by teaching themselves or starting from the ground, they had qualities that a lot of people don’t have. The application and perseverance it’s referring to makes sense but seems a little extreme. That just goes to show how long ago these stories took place. On page 94, a violinist named Giardini was asked, how long would it take to learn the violin and he replied “Twelve hours a day for twenty years together.” Clearly this is to become a professional at a very high level but this is just one example of a few on how extreme at work some of these stories show. So when application and perseverance is said to be the key to success, it is meant to a very extreme level.

The chapter I chose to read was chapter 3, and it was very similar to chapter 1 and 4 except it included the stories of “Great Potters” specifically. There were 3 stories for 3 different men, Benard Palissy, Johann Friedrich Bottgher, and Josiah Wedgwood. Palissy, Bottgher and Wedgwood in their own ways rose to the top with each having ridiculous stories of self-help. Each of these men required the help of no one and got where they needed to be all on their own through intelligence.

Samuel Smiles is most definetely a very intelligent person and a great author, but the date in which this was written took a big toll on me and I let it confuse me to the point where I’m not sure how correct I am at all. As far as I know, this book is about the successsful people of the past that didn’t have anything handed to them and ever since their youth was working hard at becoming the most successful people they can be.


Class Notes 2/18

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs


Self fulfillment needs-

  • Self Actualization (Fits into the realm of self-help. Become the best version of yourself)

Psychological needs-

  • Esteem needs
  • Belongingness & Love needs

 Basic Needs- 

  • Safety Needs
  • Psychological Needs


Website for Rhonda Byrne’s “The secret” information

  • Books for self-help
  • The Secret super app for mobiles devices
  • The greatest secret (New book by Rhonda Byrne)


In Class Videos


Video 1

SNL-Oprah the secret

Parody of an Oprah episode where Rhonda Byrnes explains what “The secret” is


Video 2

Dave Chappelle | The Secret | Stand-Up Comedy

Dave Chappelle mentions his thoughts on the secret in a stand-up segment


Video 3 (Didn’t get to watch, watch on your own before the next class)

The Blatantly Obvious (“The Secret” Parody)

Parody of “The Secret” by 24Calamity




Repurpose – To make something over with a change of purpose


Gaslighting – To change the point of view of someone else to the point of them questioning things


Elided – To suppress or alter


Upcoming in class


  • Life logging
  • Happiness Apps 
  • Going to try self-help tips and record experiences


Tuesday 2/23


Read chapter 1, 4, and a chapter of your choice of 

Self-Help; with Illustrations of Conduct and Perseverance (Samuel Smiles), 1859



Annotate the document of what you read and be sure to have the annotation ready in a PDF document in case it is collected. 


Reading Response #2 (Samuel Smiles) for what you have read and thoughts on the text


*Class Notes will be done by Maria