Striking A Balance

This weekend I was in Seattle with a dear friend and we were discussing our life situations and that basically, neither one of us is entirely content with our respective situations.  There were various aspects that we discussed but one that we touched one that I am interested in is a balance of “input” vs. “output” as we phrased it.

I will skip the details of how we got to the discussion but, want to expand upon it some.  By input we were generally referencing the fact that, in our current situations, we read, a lot.  I personally have about 5 different books going right now and my friend probably has something similar.  We both take in a lot of information constantly in an effort to escape probably and to simply be learning in ways we do not get to do regularly during the week.  We end up with a problem though.

Namely, that problem is that we get lost in simply receiving information.  We get stuck in our own heads.  That ends up making us feel worse, possibly simply accepting the situation we are in without trying to affect change in it.

Then there are the “outputs” which, in essence, are creative activities which help us to end up with something at the end.  Mine is writing specifically, my friend is interested in writing more but does not do it as much.  Other things would be such as some other endeavors I want to pursue but have not yet along with goals for more physical pursuits of fitness etc. that we are both pursuing.

Another example would be the fact that both of us spent probably an hour in a book store trying to solve some of those puzzles that one can get as brain teasers the towers of Hanoi ring puzzle type.  Although these puzzles do end up leading to a “solution” I would argue that they are very poor outputs since they are not “creative” in the sense of being something original created by the person performing the puzzle.

One thing that both of us have fallen into though is being out of balance in these inputs and outputs.  We have a lot of input, insofar as we are constantly trying to find things to learn and be stimulated in somewhat fulfilling ways.  But, we do not have much in the form of friend networks or creative pursuits to have the outputs side.  As such, we end up not having a balance of learning and creating which leaves us feeling less empowered to make changes that we need to do for having more fulfilling lives.

Expanding on this idea: think about all of the entertainment we have now in the form of internet and TV specifically; what if part of our general discomfort comes from being out of balance in a similar way.  We end up watching a lot of TV, a lot of videos, reading a lot of articles but not everyone creates things after that.  What would happen if more individuals ended up creating more to balance out all of the things they are receiving from external sources?  Would it lead to more empowerment to engage with various parts of life?

My Ethics: Part 3

Due to realizing how much this work will expand I am going to cut it short at this post.  I am going to writing out the rest of it and see where it goes from there.

Rationality, the God of our world currently.

Rationality comes in, insofar as it is reasoning and seriously thinking about the world and an individual’s situation that lets you understand 1) every situation is actually different and 2) a full overview of one’s situation.  This is again when being rational you can apply rules in an understanding way allowing you to actually be just towards a person, even one you do not actually know.  Human rationality and imagination allows an individual to place themselves into a different situation and come to understand some of the motives behind another individual’s actions.

This imagination and rationalization is what allows you to be just as mentioned in the prior part of this tirade.  Also, this imaginations and rationalizing can be spread across humans in a way that other ideas cannot do.  Every human being understands care, caring relationships, relationships in general and the emotions attached to them in various ways.  I think it is called “drama” in theater and part of the reason why the same plays and emotions can continually be called upon in entertainment: they are fundamentally touching to humans.  It is hard to get this feeling for every single human being on the planet though, the relationship I have with someone on some other continent whom I’ve never met is not the same as a peer in a class which is not the same relationship I have with my parents.  Each one is sort of like a different circle with me in the center, parents are closer than the peer which is closer than the other I’ve never met.

In order to gain access to this far-out relationship though I need to bring it closer to me, get it in arm’s reach for me to understand the relationship and the person.  Imagination and rationality are the things that produce this affect.  If I am told about the other’s situation I can attempt to put myself in their place and try to apply reason to the relation.

Reason does not end at this point though, it can take bigger steps.  But, what reason can do is for an individual to explore and too big for me to feel like taking on in the scope of blog posts.  So that’s the beginning of an ethics, caring, virtues and rationality.

My Ethics: Part 2

This is seriously just the second half of my draft, at 1,000 words total so far it’s a bit on the long side so I thought I should try to spread this whole system out a tad.  So continuing from the first part, found just before this one.

One can begin to see that children in some way, understand this work required for a caring relationship, those little drawings and gifts that children early on attempt to make for their parents as an example.  There is an understanding and a socialization that caring requires certain work and that gifts are an appropriate way of showing and promoting caring.  Then children start interacting with others.

When this interaction starts they are again taught that caring is important, they learn to show friendship, trust, make gifts for each other etc. etc. etc.  They learn to care about the other children and adults in their community and identifying them.  For a long time this is about as far as one would necessarily have to go in raising a child, but we live in a different world now which has different requirements: the children begin schooling.

Now, in broader respects children are sent to school and learn to identify their nation, they learn to identify others that are in some way related to them such as other English people, other French people, other people who are members of their extended community.  They learn they have to care for these peers in some form, they have favorites of course but they are all their own in a way and fellows.

If it stopped here (as it used to), we have serious and bad consequences: slavery, terribly devastating wars, brutality on scales we do not usually see, cannot fully comprehend nor imagine.  If one learns to only identify their “kind” their “nation” and not anything more it becomes really easy to view others as less than human and one’s own kind as higher.  At this point though it becomes hard to consider “care,” it’s just not a concept that lends itself to easily being expanded and recognized at this point.  This is where those virtues that children have been taught and socialized with come in handy.

Consider the virtues, generally they are things that relate to being a good person, good citizen/member of a community or anything similar to that.  Also it is generally assumed it seems that you cannot really be a good person in a vacuum.  Think about a good person though what is it you think of?  Not just a charitable, benevolent person that’s just a nice guy.  But they have a personality there is something memorable to them and you want to be with them, they are simply fun people to be with.  Aristotle deals with this a bit more specifically, for example when he talks of humor.  Someone who can’t tell or at least take jokes is not nearly as easy to care for or be around to have a relationship with.  They also know how and when to put in the proper efforts for relationships, if they make mistakes even.

Humans do make mistakes, simply.  Even this incredibly good person who you spend time with, notice another thing though: when this person makes a mistake, you are “just” to them through being understanding of their mistake and their situation, you care back to them and show it through appropriate gifts etc and being understanding and supportive etc. when the good person makes a mistake.  You are being impartial with regards to yourself, say the good person forgot something to show that they care for you at an appropriate time (birthday for example I guess).  You remain impartial and understand that they had other duties or things to worry about and you are fair to them through acknowledging they make mistakes and cannot possibly do everything at once, unless of course you are hanging out with God on a regular basis, that is a slightly different story.  You care enough about your relationship and your friend that you are willing to be fair to mistakes made by either party.  Rationality comes in for this also.

My Ethics: Part 1

Alright, time to really start creating something.   I’ve spent enough time doing a light observation of the current situation  so I might as well try to create my own.

This new form of ethics, since I feel it deals with real life, not extremes, is going to be somewhat different from most that you know, hopefully.  At least I consider it different since it takes two ideas and blends them together into something to help describe how the world works and then become normative out of it in a way.

My proposal is a combination of virtue ethics and the ethics of care (yes feminists, I’m taking this idea, hopefully I keep it correct enough for you because I do think there is something important in this idea).

It is a slightly different direction though; care ethics (CE) is not going to be absorbed by virtue ethics (VE), it is going to go the other way around.  CE is going to be the place out of which we get VE.

The firs thing, why do I not take utilitarianism (util) into account or deontology (deo) or one of those other ethical systems that float around in philosophy classes?  They are pretty absurd if you stop and consider it, for util all value is based on utility.  Usually this utility is focused on the largest amount of happiness/well-being/goodness or whatever for the largest number of people.  Deo on the other hand basically argues that the person must be trying to be moral by following some certain rule, no matter the outcomes, when that person was attempting to be entirely moral/ethical their action was correct.  So where did these values come from?  Utility just seems to get pulled out of nowhere, I mean I could simply argue that justice is more valuable.  Deo is just replacing God’s commandments with reason’s commandments.  In my opinion both of these are only useful as tools for coming to a decision, not actually a way to live a moral life.  These rules are for computers or for the virtuous person to have in mind when at a dilemma but not THE way of ethical/moral-ness.  No one would be happy trying to follow these rules out to a T. That’s just a short response to make sure there is a basic understanding of why I don’t even consider those seriously.

One thing that CE definitely gets right is that we are born into caring relationships: I see no possible way for this to be argued without being entirely absurd, find an infant, just born, who will be able to survive without the caring relationship of at least a foster care-taker of some sort if not the actual parent and then I will have to adjust my understanding, I won’t be holding my breath though.

So, starting from the idea that we are born into caring relationships.  This idea of caring is also usually described as a practice along with being other things.  Practices take work and thought in order to improve one’s own practice and those around them.  So, at first, being just an infant you really probably aren’t too worried about being virtuous in the relationship, you’ve got bigger problems to attend to, such as your hunger.  But, children grow up.

Un-liked Conclusions

Caution: Possibly offensive ideas below.

Note: Don’t you dare attack me for saying any of this, I am just walking through the conclusions that come to me when looking at the world, I am not necessarily advocating these views.  This is more an experiment in realizing our western way of life is as absurd, if not more absurd, as any other way of life that can be imagined.

So, I just saw something that mentioned special-needs kids.  Now, considering that Western Culture believes in the church of logic, why are special-needs kids defended so much?  For this world of science it seems to be a form of sacrilege really, or maybe simply a way to keep human experiments around without having human rights issues.

Stop and think about it, if human beings are simply another species of animals, why are people so afraid of the general law of fittest survives?  If this is truly the scientific fact, why do we not go along with it like we tend to do with every other scientific fact? Seriously, every single medical advance is touted as wonderful, every new little piece of technology is amazing and life-changing.  Yet the fact that we are just animals is covered up as best as possible.  How does this work out in such a “scientifically advanced” society?

In such a society there must be a reason that we want to protect these special-needs kids so much.  Simply saying because they are human too/we feel bad does not apply in logic.  So what else could it be besides a form of scientific experiments with the children?  It makes sense, a child which does need help and would not be “scientifically” fittest arguably would not make it in the “animal” world.  But if we do keep them alive we can continue to advance our “science”! We can solve more problems! We can gain more knowledge! So now we just have unofficial laboratory experiments across the globe? Didn’t we have serious issues with this when they first started happening?

So, are we “scientifically advanced” or are we something else?  Are you really athiest? Do you really believe in God? Can you really defend acting like this otherwise?  Just saying, maybe you should make a decision.

 

Fear of Death

Recently in a class the topic of prisons came up and how prisons are the place that society tends to send mental health patients and anyone who doesn’t either look or act like the norms set. That prompted this little piece:

Fear of death causes the fear of having to deal with anything reminding us of life, the frailty of it and parts of it that aren’t pleasant. Only by accepting and living with death can life be appreciated, thus making prison populations smaller and weakening the prison system. Until then prisons are going to be the model of life for everyone.

Fear of death and therefore fear of life, makes society split everything up into little pieces. This fear causes everything to be compartmentalized into smaller and smaller little separate pieces for us to deal with and never actually get a look at the larger picture. We have our private/semi-private space, we have a certain time to go outside, certain times to eat, no one sees when we die, as few people as possible see us when born. We then create a section of the world that is only for “us” or whatever your group is and exclude and include others according to your whims.

Cells, time to walk around outside, times to eat, times to sleep, fences all around. Apartments, “free time,” lunch break, curfew, borders. Which one is more free? Arguably the second, I cannot fully disagree with this, but I can point out the trajectory this second lifestyle seems to be taking and it ends up quite similar to the first one, only with a bit less gray.

Everything becomes a little tiny piece of life but is never put into the full context of a life, all because of a fear of death and life. So it is easier for society to put everything that doesn’t fit with the norm into a confined area that we do not ever have to deal with: hospitals, prisons, retirement homes, schools even. If the individual doesn’t fit the norm, put them into some space to either make/train them to fit the norm or just keep them out of the way until later on. Prisons will expand unless we begin to think differently.

A Fundamental Logical Error

The law of non-contradiction: X cannot have the adjective q and not-q at the same time. Within logical systems this of course works and is fundamental for a lot of ideas, theories, etc. But, it has expanded too far; it expanded into the human realm with the assumption that an individual cannot be both an individual and not an individual.

The law of non-contradiction made it so that one cannot say that a person is both an individual and a part of a group.  They cannot be both the private person and the public person; only one or the other is allowed at one time.  For some reason I am not sure of yet, the Enlightenment chose the individual, private person as the main focus of reason/logic. This is the point that I think one must put on the breaks.

Only through being aware of one’s connectedness can one really accomplish anything.  In other words, humans are a social animal, I am personally incredibly okay being alone for periods of time, but I know that being alone all of the time is both boring and bad for me.  A lot of great thinkers have struck on this idea: Aristotle being a big early one, there is Alexis De Tocqueville in Democracy in America, he calls this idea “self-interest rightly understood” (or something along those lines), Feminists with the ethics of care have hit it, Jesus with “love thy neighbor” (if you’re feeling religious), for the underdogs we have Marx who talks about this idea, Nietzsche considers humans as herd-animals, wanting to get more scientific our cousins the primates, apes etc. tend to be social, not to mention our friends: dogs.

Dogs brings up an interesting subject with cats and dogs being usually two of the most popular pets: cats are solitary and dogs are more social.  Could this be an image of this unusual spot humans find themselves in?  We somehow go back and forth between the two extremes of being solitary and social.  The problem with the law of non-contradiction is that it does not allow one to be both or work on being both at the same time.

It also seems that no one wants to attempt to deal with both of these natures at the same time.  I think it could be a solution to the theological problem of evil, I also definitely think being aware of this back-and-forth allows for a much more fluid and useful ethics.  It also allows for massive critiques of a lot of Western society: education and economics specifically.  I intend to go into these later.

So consider, which is “more” human?  The individual in the “state of nature” as our society is founded upon or the individual in a family/society as the ethics of care and virtue respectively are roughly founded on?