Month: May 2019

Week 22 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Meat Eating

(This post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) Last week’s topic was fairly philosophical and abstract, so this week I’ll offer up something concrete and practical.   We make food choices and encounter other peoples’ fanaticism, so what could be more useful than discussing food and meat? Lifestyles of the Rich and the Blameless In third world countries, vegetarianism is widespread because meat is very expensive. As the world’s poor earn more money, they eat more meat. (Economist, May 4th 2019) Meanwhile in the first-world, meat is plentiful and inexpensive while whole foods and organic produce are expensive. As people become richer in the West, it becomes a badge of honor to eat less meat.  (Economist, October 13th 2018) (Nearly) Fifty Shades Vegetarianism – avoiding animal products except dairy and eggs Veganism – strictly avoiding all animal products (sometimes including honey) Meatatarianism – like Jordan Peterson’s daughter, who eats only beef! Pescatarianism – avoiding meats except fish Fruititarianism – eating only fruits   Animals: Meat? Or …

Week 21 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Objectivity & Subjectivity

(This post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) This week’s journal topic: Objectivity and Subjectivity These terms seem frighteningly philosophical, right?  What’s this? you ask. More stuffy classroom terms that serve scant purpose in everyday life?  Actually, the terms objectivity and subjectivity are used fairly regularly in intelligent conversation about politics, science, and ethics.  And if it’s not the specific terms that are invoked, the concepts behind them are nonetheless are. Objectivity Say you’re having an argument with someone who finishes his speech by saying, “I’m just reporting the objective facts – you have to accept that I’m right about this.”  What does he mean by objective facts and why does stating them provide evidence to support his view? Simply defined, objectivity is the characteristic which expresses the idea that a statement is free of perspectives, value judgments, or bias from personal interests.  To emphasize that a statement is an “objective fact” is to iterate to your listener that the statement is “faithful to the facts” …

Week 20 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Fear

(This post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) This week’s journal topic: Fear You’ve undoubtedly received all kinds of contradictory information about fear.  As a child, nauseous with nerves before stepping onstage in the school play, you probably heard your parents or teacher tell you that “there’s nothing to fear but fear itself” (FDR, former American president). If you’re a child of the 80’s or 90’s, you might remember the brand No Fear, whose edgy (at the time) T-shirts mocked fear. Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real These quotes tell us that fear is some kind of illusion; moreover, it’s an illusion that loses its power when we laugh at it and clearly see the illusion.  Fear is like a rubber snake dropped into your lap.  It’s impossible not to react, but when you see that it’s rubber, it’s funny. What is fear? Fear is really made up of two aspects: physiological and emotional.  In an environment in which our bodies perceive fear, the body reacts …

The Problem of Role Models: You’re Probably Doing It Wrong

In a confusing world that forces us to curb our natural behaviors, we often look to exemplars (i.e. role models) to facilitate and accelerate the decision making process. Those exemplars aren’t participants in the process  (obviously, we don’t have Warren Buffet, Jack Ma, or Mother Theresa on speed dial) but they influence our decisions in an indirect way. We reflect on our beliefs about these exemplars, asking questions such as What Would ____ Do? and allowing ourselves to be guided by the imagined response to a similar scenario.  There are different kinds of exemplars, and here are a few examples: Role model: A person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others. Idol: (colloquial usage) an image of a person with an ethereal, god-like, or transcendent status to which worship is addressed. Prophet: e.g.  Jesus, Mohammad, Abraham, Krishna, Buddha, Lao Zu, Confucius, etc. Moral saint: a moral philosophy term coined by Susan Wolf who says, “By moral saint I mean a person whose every action is as morally good as possible, …

Week 19 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Names

(This post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!)  This week the questions are a break from the previous week’s heavy questions!  You can even use these questions as conversation starters. Enjoy! This Week’s Journal Topic: Names Romeo doesn’t care the Juliet’s surname is his enemy’s surname; to Romeo she’ll always be the same enchanting woman, even if her name was something else.  A name, in other words, means nothing.  But is a name really just an arbitrary thing, or does it affect our personality and future?  If names are unimportant, why do parents agonize over choosing the perfect name? Parents name their children’s given names with various purposes in mind. Unique reference. Some parents are concerned about originality of the name and want the name and spelling, in combination with the last name, to be a one-of-a-kind feature. E.g. Abcde, Mykenzee, J-a (Jadasha), etc. Meaning.  Some parents want a name to carry meaning and/or give the child a certain strength or quality.  Biblical and religious names remind …

Money Mindset Makeover: Assess and Take Action to Improve your Relationship with Money

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post on Marx. Several readers contacted me directly about this post with worries about whether or not I support communism.  Sorry to disappoint your curiosity, but the post itself was not written as a piece for or against communism.  Rather it was first an exercise in understanding Marx’s philosophical foundation for his attitude towards capitalism, and second an attempt to make Marx’s philosophy useful, relatable and memorable to lay-philosophers – many of whom naturally have little patience for abstract theories, irrelevant in the modern economic world. If you didn’t read the post, the TL:DR of Marx’s “Estranged Labor” is that Marx thought – for philosophical reasons – that the labor market as an exchange of work for pay is inherently exploitative and inhumane. In case you were confused by that post, I’ll reassure you that’s not what I think, and I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is. Perhaps, after reading Marx, money has left a sour taste in your mouth.  Fear not: this week, let’s re-think money in …