All posts tagged: agency

Week 16 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Human Activity

(This post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) This Week’s Journal Topic: Human Activity Human Being = Human Doing Humans are a busy species. Human life is synonymous with willful activity. Each person is always moving, chasing objects or ideas, procuring and utilizing things – whether that’s food, money, knowledge, feelings, or relationships. Even the laziest person isn’t “doing nothing”; although his activity may be categorized as “unproductive” by other people, it cannot be strictly categorized as “nothing”, for it’s always purposeful in some way or other. The desire to move and act is so strong that the thought of being paralyzed – even if one is perfectly safe and cared for, surrounded by loved ones – is alarming and abhorrent! That some people sign assisted-suicide documents in case they are paralyzed is proof that as a species we’d rather die than be incapacitated, cut off from activity.  We have a deep desire to “do”.  Human beings are humans-doing.   Frameworks for Understanding Activity …

Kant on Enlightenment & Ignorance as a Societal Sickness

Thoughts on Immanuel Kant’s discussion of self-imposed nonage in Answering the Question: “What is Enlightenment?” Ignorance is a Societal Sickness Kant writes that “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed nonage.” You’ve likely never heard of the word nonage before.  It refers to a state of immaturity, youth, a time of life in which we rely on guardians to make decisions for us. During this period, we are directed by another person’s reasoning, rather than by our own.  In the natural age of youth, we require the assistance of guardians to think and speak for us, due to our undeveloped faculty of reason.  At such an age, we do not harm our soul, spirit, or personal humanity by deferring decision-making to those who care for us.  There is no feasible alternative, lest we be forced to prematurely raise ourselves and risk detriment. Sometimes, however, a human prolongs his nonage far into adulthood. In Kant’s essay, he distinguishes between nonage and self-imposed nonage. Kant names two essential features of self-imposed nonage, which act as internal barriers …

How to Live without Shame and Avoid Rationalizing

A few days ago I was discussing justification with a colleague. The previous two blog posts were about Justification (Parts 1 and 2). He suggested a third aspect of justification: excuse-making or rationalization.  This is distinct from the epistemic notions of justification.  A discussion of rationalization justification falls under the categories of pragmatism (human, goal-oriented reasoning) and psychology. What is Rationalization Justification? Rationalization is an excuse-making behavior we resort to if we commit an act that is deemed unacceptable to ourselves or others. After the conscious realization that the behavior was unacceptable, we begin to feel emotionally uncomfortable – guilty, shameful, inferior, unworthy, etc.  The response to those feelings is to “rationalize the situation”. Rationalization is a type of excuse-making that retroactively justifies the behavior that we deemed unacceptable.  It “makes the situation OK”.  By providing justifying reasons for the unacceptable behavior, we are able to re-interpret our behavior to be acceptable.  Rationalization allows us to avoid painful emotions that we would otherwise have felt when looking back at the behavior. I think there are …

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, …

Why Critical Thinking Is SO IMPORTANT

Some people tell me they don’t understand critical thinking & philosophy.  Or at least they don’t know why I love it so much and spent $$$ money on a university diploma in philosophy.  They’ll agree that it’s good and we should teach it to children.  But then, they still can’t tell me why. So let me tell all of you. Critical thinking makes you aware of your thought patterns and feelings about topics in life. Becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings is self-knowledge.  Critical thinking tells you who you are right now. Even if you don’t like yourself right now, you can try to understand yourself.  But why should you bother trying to understand yourself? Because there is no use hiding from yourself. You can try to hide from yourself by distracting yourself with hobbies, travel, drugs, alcohol, friends, reading, gambling, eating, watching television, fitness, and more travel, etc.  But when the money runs out and when the fun stops… there you are.  The hide-and-seek game always ends with you being found, and then …