ENG 111

Fall 2002


READING GUIDE:  Extraordinary Minds, chapter 7—Influencer:  The Case of Gandhi


Vocabulary . . .


A  Learn what these words mean as they are used on the indicated pages.


Mollify (p. 105)

Distraught (p. 106)

Demonize (p. 108)

Un-/obtrusive (p. 111)

Ascertain (p. 111)

Abrasive (p. 111)

Analogy/-ous (p. 112)

Propound (p. 113)

Abhorrent (p. 113)

Dialectic (p. 116)

Heterogeneous (p. 117)

A priori (p. 117)

Ludicrous (p. 120)

Common weal (p. 122)

Mean (p. 123)


B  These words are defined in the text.  Learn them, and notice what grammar and punctuation devices Gardner uses to define them.


Satyagraha (p. 105)                              Manichean (p. 117)


Notes . . .


The fourth category in Gardner’s framework is Influencers.  Influencers, you’ll recall, are those extraordinary people who influence others.  We might just as easily call them leaders.


The leader who Gardner profiles in this chapter is Mahatma Gandhi, and the first section is an attention-getting introduction to the man and his work.  After the first section, though, any information about Gandhi is woven into remarks about influencers generally.  The caution from the chapter about Makers applies here, too:  this is not a chapter about Gandhi; it’s a chapter about Influencers that uses Gandhi as an extended example.


In the second section, found at the bottom of p. 106, we begin to deal with some complexity.  The case Gardner will make here is that both makers and influencers are leaders:  makers are indirect leaders: influencers are direct leaders.  He distinguishes between the two in a clever and tidy way, and be sure you know what are the characteristics of each.


On p. 108, Gardner gives a general description of direct leaders and leadership.  One of the elements of this description is the story—the message a leader uses to gain followers.  He returns to the importance of the story in a section on p. 116.  Virtually all leaders of mass movements tell stories that reduce issues to two opposing positions:  a good and correct position (ours) and a bad and wrong position (our opponents’).  You may think this is too simplistic to be true, but we’ll prove it by working through some examples during class time.


Gandhi’s story, on the other hand, was much more complicated than that.  Gardner describes it in the middle of p. 117, and from his description you will get a sense of its complexity.  But Gardner does Gandhi an injustice by implying that Gandhi’s story is just, or even mostly, satyagraha.  Satyagraha, in fact, is only one part of Gandhi’s story, and it takes on a different meaning when it’s embedded in the context of the rest of Gandhi’s beliefs.  For this reason, we will learn about those beliefs by reading Gandhi’s autobiography, which has the intriguing title of The Story of My Experiments with Truth.