A while back, I wrote a Movable Type plugin that automatically keeps track of various versions of blog entries and templates. The coolest feature, loosely adapted from an old Python script by Aaron Swartz, lets you do a “diff” (i.e. “what are the differences?”) between two versions, and converts it to a visual display in HTML. (It uses the Perl module Algorithm::Diff for the actual comparison.)
When I was testing this code, I was always looking for examples of slightly different versions of a piece of text. It turns out that the ideal test case for this application is... plagiarism! So I did this not only because it’s fun to call out plagiarists but to see how the plugin handled it. There are some oddities, as you’ll see (mostly related to punctuation, which the algorithm doesn’t quite know how to handle), but by and large, both the plagiarism and the revisions are pretty clear.
Herewith, some pieces of “Education: Ideas worth defending, honesty of reflective thought” as originally written by Jeffrey Hart and lightly revised by Tim Goeglein:
Professorof Philosophyat Dartmouth,Eugene Rosenstock-Hussey oftenexpressed the matter succinctly,“The goal of education,” he would say, “isto form the Citizen. And the Citizen is a person who, if need be, can re-found his civilization.”
thatin quite largea sense. He did not mean that you had to master all the specialties you can think of.
He meant that you
needto be familiar with the large and indispensable components of your this civilization.
certainlydoes not mean thatyou should not study other cultures and civilizations. It does mean that to be a Citizenof this oneyou should be aware of what it is and where it came from.
scarcelybe challenged that the United States is part of the narrative of European history. It owes little or nothing to Confucius or Laotse or to Chief Shaka or to the Aztecs. At the margin it owes a bit to the American Indians, but not a great deal corn, tobacco, some legendary material. ButEurope is overwhelmingly the source. Andsome parts of Europe more than others: Our language, legal tradition, political arrangements derive, and demonstrably so,from England.
There have been many ways of answering the
question, “Whatis Europe?” But ahandy way to think of the matter is the paradigm of “Athens” and “Jerusalem.” In this paradigm, those terms designate both the two cities we have all heard of, andalso two kinds of mind.
The tradition designated “Athens” is associated with philosophy and with critical exercise of
mind.The tradition associated with “Jerusalem” is associated with monotheism.
On the side of
“Athens”you willwant to learn something about Homer, who in many ways laid the basis of Greek philosophy, and you willneed to meet Plato, Aristotle, the Greek dramatists, historians, architects and sculptors.
“Jerusalem”you willfind the epic account of the career of monotheism as it worked its way out in history. The scriptureslike Homer, have their epic heroes, and,like the Greek tradition in some waysthey refine and internalize the epic virtues. “Athens”and “Jerusalem” interactand much flows from the interaction. You willfollow all of this down through the centuries, through Virgil andAugustine, and Dante, in Shakespeare,Cervantes, andMontaigne, Moliere, Voltaire, Goethe and on to modernity. “The best that has been thought and said,” as Matthew Arnold called it. The mind of Europe as T.S. Eliot put it, “from Homer to the present.”