All posts filed under: psychology

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 3 Questions for Know Thyself in 2019: Parent-Child Relationships

(This blog is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) This week’s question topic: parent-child relationships I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection. and If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother. The author of the two preceding quotes is Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), an Austrian psychiatrist especially famous for relating all mental abnormalities back to idiosyncrasies in the parent-child relationship. I don’t know if I agree that the parent-child relationship is wholly defining of us, but it is surely fundamental to the people we become.   Human beings need parental figures for survival and social development. The first people you interacted with were probably your parents.  The parent-child relationship is an unavoidable source of tension but it can also be an irreplaceable source of joy. Knowing what you think about your parents can help you understand the source of disagreements.  It can also reveal the source of your expectations for other types of relationships.  Your ideas about …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …