All posts filed under: Critical Thinking & Ideas

Week 6 Questions for “Know Thyself 2019”: Power Over Others

(This blog is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) This Week’s Journal Topic: Power Over Other People One topic that has interested philosophers of all the ages and all civilizations is power.  To have power over others is to have the ability to influence their behaviour. When you have power, you have some kind of authority to make decisions and efficacy for creating real consequences.  Contrast the (illusory) feeling of power with actually being powerful over others. Power over others comes from various sources: Parental authority – parents’ ability to influence their children, regardless of age Education – overpowering by out-smarting Charisma – persuasive language and charming personality Political – ability to authorize actions that effect other people Status – a job title that creates respect or fear Money – “purchasing” certain goods and behaviours Physical strength – dominating through offers of protection or creation of fear The Pursuit of Power Power can be motivating and addictive. Many human beings enjoy feeling power over others and take …

Does smoking cause cancer? Philosophy says no.

Causation, a.k.a. cause & effect, is arguably the most important and fascinating notion in metaphysics. (Metaphysics is a branch of academic philosophy dealing with questions like, “how/where/why does stuff exist?” and “what does it mean to exist?”) We use causation language  everyday.  But our normal usage of terms such as cause & effect are clumsy and inexact.  When we try to do philosophy or science without refining the notion of causation, are results are a big pile of cow dung. And even if you don’t plan on doing much philosophy, you should still care about refining your usage of cause & effect. If you are confused about what causation is, then you fundamentally misunderstand the world.  Errors in perceiving causal connections in reality cause you to: form unjustified beliefs make false statements to yourself and others.   That’s not be so bad, you say.  So what if I have false beliefs. But remember, decisions are based on beliefs – you act because you believe other people rely on your words – they expect them to be a …

Week 4 Questions for “Know Thyself 2019”: Disagreement

(This blog is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) This week’s question topic: Disagreement As global migration increases, societies become more diverse.  Workplaces bring together equally skilled people who, nonetheless, have highly divergent opinions about all kinds of topics, including social issues, politics, education, culture, sexuality, and ethnicity.  Diversity increases disagreement. It’s ok to disagree with others – you have the right to choose your thoughts!  Holding your tongue when you disagree can make you resentful, feel taken advantage of, or become passive-aggressive. It’s ok to disagree with others but keep your opinion to yourself.  If you don’t know when to pick your battles, you might become frustrated, exhausted, and end up with a bad reputation. This week’s questions are designed to help you understand your reaction to disagreement.  By understanding your reaction, you gain the power to make a conscious choice about how to react in the future. The Questions:  Do you find yourself agreeing with mere opinions (not facts) even when you don’t agree?  …

Week 2 Questions for Know Thyself in 2019: Pleasure

(This blog is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) This week’s journal questions are designed to help you own your P L E A S U R E. The ancient Greeks had a philosophy of pleasure, hedonism, which taught people to maximize the amount of pleasure in their lives.  What constitutes a pleasurable activity depends on each person, but pleasure is always associated with the positive emotions of joy, well-being, desire, liking, or enjoyment.  In other words, pleasure is about feeling good. Why is pleasure important to you? Pleasure is important for your mental, emotional, and physical health.  Pleasure-seeking is part of our biological evolution.  The inability to feel pleasure can sometimes be classed as a mental disorder called anhedonia. Not being able to experience pleasure is not usually an illness.  Sometimes it’s simply a result of being out of touch with knowing what gives you pleasure, or you may be repressed as a result of socialization. Women are socialized to believe that pleasure is …

2018’s Top Posts from Emily’s Everything

This year I wrote posts on a variety of topics, such as life, philosophy, travel, and health.  Some were much more popular than others and here are the top five by views! 1. My Post-vacation Blues Coming back from vacation is always difficult. Vacations are followed by periods of longing and dissatisfaction.  How do we reintegrate into real life and make it make sense? 2. My Favorite Tool to Break Free from Hopelessness & Depression I used to suffer from deep depression.  Then I realized that the brain gets better at whatever you make it practice.   I created a new habit to break the old habit of hopelessness.  You, too, can open up to enjoy life again. 3. Travel Blog: Food in Japan is too Perfect? Japan is an obsession for many people in awe of attention to detail in tech, food, products, culture, and politeness.  In a travel blog focusing on food, I explain why the charm of perfection wears thin. 4. Philosophy for Real Life: Theories of Truth You use the word truth, but don’t know …

Think you’re justified? Read this.

This is a two part post, carrying on with the recent epistemological theme! The goal of part one is to understand what justification is and where it comes from.  Part one will also outline the importance of being able to understand and give reasons you give for your beliefs. Part two will be an analysis of why you don’t really have any justification (and might not even care!). What exactly is justification?  Before we go ahead doubting it, let’s see what it is and what it can do for you! What is Justification? Let’s say your talking with a friend and she says, “Trump won’t win the next election – I know it!”  You ask, “Why do you believe that?” What you’re asking IS NOT: what are the brain’s biological functions that led to your thoughts (in other words, the causal explanation of how the belief came to be) the exact date when she came up with that belief (as in, I have the belief because I did not have the belief before April 12, …

Mating in the Modern Era: What are the New Fitness Indicators?

What is the best way to look after your evolutionary interests? In a two part blog about the ethics of sexual choice in the modern era, I’ll talk about you as the hunter and you as the prey! Human Evolution The progression of human evolution is a story about human beings selecting mates with features suggestive that the offspring will be a reproductive success.  Human beings subconsciously choose mates who show signs of physical health and mental ability in order to combine and reproduce evolutionarily desirable DNA.  The physical appearance of strong men and feminine women advertise the ability to produce, protect, and nurture the children. From an evolutionary perspective, it’s a biological imperative to admire and desire physical health and intelligence. Choose Adaptations for Modern Survival If we want to be smart about choosing a mate in the modern era, we should use this information wisely. After all, the threats to human beings have shifted drastically since the introduction of cities, the internet, and the five day work week.  No longer do we require …

Freedom & Curiosity: Rethinking the Strawsonian Pragmatic Argument for Free Will

 A short paper responding the the Strawsonian argument that can be interpreted from Peter Strawson’s paper, “Freedom & Resentment”. In Peter Strawson’s paper entitled “Freedom and Resentment”, the author provides evidence of a pragmatic argument to believe in free will, regardless of whether or not the thesis of determinism is true. Strawson builds a pragmatic argument for free will by explaining the connection between freedom, human psychology, and our humanity. Although I think Strawson provides a plausible pragmatic account of free will, I see a potential problem concerning the natural reactive attitudes he focuses on, especially resentment, which undermines his thesis. First, the natural reactive attitude of resentment that justifies participants’ place in a moral community actually undermines the relationships that Strawson suggests are essential for adult human life; Strawson uses interpersonal relationships as part of his justification for why we should accept the pragmatic argument for free will. Second, self-directed resentment is freedom denying; blaming oneself has psychological effects that undermine the freedom that Strawson wants to guarantee. I will briefly suggest an unlikely …

My Post-Vacation Blues

The post-vacation blues are a real thing.  It’s not just jet-lag, which I manage to avoid by timing my meals, staying very hydrated, using masks and headsets on the plane, and exercising to get my body back in the schedule.  Post-vacation blues are more difficult to manage because it’s a perspective that takes over.  Brain overstimulation in the form of sights, sounds, delicious foods, shopping, sunshine, and immersion in a new culture. I got back from an exciting two week vacation on Tuesday, just four days ago. At first I was really busy with work for my Pragmatism class at UBC, and then writing.  But today I had to go into my workplace and it struck me again: real life is, well… it’s just not vacation! 😦 It’s easy to idealize a foreign culture and way of life when you’re in a good mood and having fun.  So, what’s the cure to my post-vacation blues? Why can’t I love my “regular” life as much as vacation? Solution: Find the beauty in regular life.  Lucky that …

Travel Blog: Food in Japan is Too Perfect?

The first time you travel to Japan, you’ll be blown away by intricate handicrafts, perfectly folded origami, manicured gardens, clean streets, and meal sets. Indeed, this attention to detail shows high regard for quality and order, which the Japanese are now known for.  In my parents’ time, “Made In Japan” meant shoddy, but now “Made In Japan” is a mark of quality and innovation.  Today, I’m talking about “perfect” meal sets. Attention to detail is showcased especially the meal sets, even at casual restaurants. They are the stuff of an obsessive compulsive person’s dreams, each item delicately placed just-so, to ensure the best presentation of each small portion… one tomato sits gently on a single lettuce leaf, a few sheets of seaweed peek out of the ramen broth, and the slices of chaashuu pork are perfectly round, made of alternating ribbons of fat and meat. Even Japan Airlines economy class meals were served to us like this, complemented by a “Thank you for waiting. Here is your meal.”   Air Canada really has nothing on …