All posts filed under: philosophy

Sorting out Compassion, Pity, and Love

I started reading a book called The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It’s philosophical fiction and ripe with existentialist themes.  You find it on Library Genesis.  The story is about a womanizer and, at one point, he considers his unusual compassionate feelings towards a woman he is sleeping with. He says, To take pity on a woman means that we are better off than she, that we stoop to her level, lower ourselves. That is why the word compassion generally inspires suspicion; it designates what is considered an inferior, second rate sentiment that has little to do with love.  To love someone out of compassion means not really to love…  (Chapter 9) This passage really caught me off-guard – my intuition is not the same as the author’s.  Does compassion imply a power or hierarchical relationship in which one person has pity for another?  To me, the word compassion has always meant co-feeling and suggests companionship and shared emotions, including joy. Read It and Weep Let’s see what the Oxford Dictionary has to say: Compassion: Sympathetic pity …

Learn to Ask Better Questions

What is a question? I’m sure you ask questions everyday, but probably don’t have a ready answer for that question. Maybe your first reply is something along the lines of, “it’s a way of getting information from another person when you don’t know something.” That’s only partially correct.  Confused why?  Keep reading: my blog today is about questions, designed to enhance your question asking skills.  Asking the right questions provides advantages: You’ll be a better listener. Listening is an interpersonal skill that is just as important as talking.  A conversation needs two people; it’s not just two people volunteering information and moving the air.  If you can ask a question after someone stops talking, it’s a sign that you were listening and understood what was said. You’ll improve your relationships. This will apply especially to the men in relationships.  Asking questions will both allow you to avoid talking when you don’t want to and make your partner feel loved (Ask me about my day, please!). You’ll know yourself better by engaging your curiosity.  Figuring out what …

Life Lessons At the Xerox Machine

A lesson for self-acceptance from an unlikely place Yesterday at work I walked by a co-worker who was having some difficulty with a new printing system that had recently been installed. She sighed and explained to me that I was lucky since I was new and didn’t know the old system at all. She was used to doing things the old way and, therefore, had to break old habits at the same time as learn the new ones. I, on the other hand, merely need to add a new habit. I thought to myself, “How profound this idea would be, if applied to daily life.”  How can we cease to struggle with habits? Is there a way to change our mindset to live in the freshness of each moment and thereby become excited for change?  Do we need habits? Any advantages? Habit is an essential part of human existence.  Our muscles and minds are habit-forming machines. In fact, if you didn’t have an “autopilot” for most daily tasks, you’d be overwhelmed within hours. You’d likely spend so …

Mating in the Modern Era: Attraction, Advantage & Lies

In part two of Mating in the Modern Era, I’m discussing the ethics of attracting a fit partner! In part one, I discussed choosing “fit” partners, meaning someone who is evolutionarily well-adapted for modern survival. Human beings use deceptive techniques to attract a mate.  This isn’t unique to our species; all animals do this.  It’s important to understand that evolution sanctions highlighting our best features and hiding our defects.  Evolution tells us: Each human being should maximize his evolutionary interests by attracting a “fit” partner.  But have human beings created game-changing circumstances that raise ethical issues about attraction and advantage? Is Attraction a Game of Deceit? The current concern is that body modification is unlimited.  Even brain chemistry and hormones can be modified, too. Plastic surgery can alter appearance beyond recognition to create a fresh identity.  The ethical issue of intentional deceit raises some questions:  1)      What do we alter in order to present a more attractive image? Are all these areas fair game? 2)      Even if intentional deceit is sanctioned by evolutionary needs, is body alteration …

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 …

Travel Pics: A Day At Tokyo DisneySea

While in Japan earlier this month, I finally made the journey to Tokyo DisneySea. I’ve been to Tokyo three times before and it’s so easy to get to, but not once did I visit Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea.  Time to see what it’s about!  As usual, critical thinking questions follow! Disney Sea is for Adults The first thing you’ll realize at Tokyo DisneySea is how popular it is with adults. Compared to Tokyo Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland, the ratio of adults to children is much higher here.   The atmosphere of DisneySea seems more adult themed: less cartoon-y, fewer venues with overly-cheerful music (not It’s a Small World!), less emphasis on animated characters and princesses.  Instead, the park is set up like a sailing adventure.  The architecture create fantasy scenes from the Middle East, the Mediterranean, South America, and early 20th century New York waterfront.  There are also make-believe locations such as Triton’s kingdom and the Mermaid Lagoon.  In the background to the right, you can see the Islamic architecture of Aladdin and Jasmine’s kingdom. Remember when you …

Psychology of Competition: Why you don’t Value what will make you Happy

Our Inconsistent Set of Values As a society we say that “it’s what’s inside that counts.” However, the fact of our ultra-busy, career-chasing lives, and the billion-dollar beauty and med-spa industry reveals that we actually seem to think it’s the external things that give us value. Why is there this split between what we want to value, what we say we value, and what we actually seem to value? When theory is put into practice in the values we want for ourselves, why don’t we place inner beauty and a loving heart above an LV purse and a fit figure? The inconsistency in values is sadly apparent in the gender wage gap.  Traditionally, professions staffed by sincere, caring, and dedicated women such as nursing and teaching pay less than professions that focus on production of a specific good or multiply money. Now, I am in no way anti-capitalist (I’m rather a “status egalitarian”: human rights and esteem for all.  A discussion of its economic ramifications is for another day!).  But consider those things that truly …

Love and Cosmic Loneliness

“You’re my one in seven billion…”  (below: Hong Kong view from the Peak, 2018) If you reflect deeply enough on human life experience, you might eventually encounter the existentialist belief that we are all suffering from “cosmic loneliness”.  In regards to existentialism, cosmic loneliness refers to the idea that our perceptions, emotions, and the qualia of the physical world as it touches our senses give each of us a truly separate experience. This isn’t just about life in general, but it applies to events, too. No matter what action I do, even when performed in the same way as others performed it, I can’t claim to have any better access to their experiences than someone else who hadn’t performed that act. Think about the experience of viewing a sunrise. Even as millions of others viewed the sunset from Hong Kong’s Peak in similar fashion to the way I view it, with the light hitting my eyes as I stand on the well-worn path, there are still at least a few ways that my experience is …

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 …