All posts tagged: critical thinking

Week 47 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Elitism

“Elitism” is a term that gets used a lot in news media as an accusation towards academics, politicians, and wealthy entrepreneurs.  It is also sometimes used by social activists who believe that a privileged group is out of touch with the lifestyles, desires, values, and struggles of a disadvantaged group. 

There are various genres of elitism, but they all have on thing in common. Elitism is the view that a select group of people have the authority to dictate what is valuable, important, or worthwhile. This select group is known as the “elite”.  They hold authority because they have a special quality: class, intelligence, skills, wealth, or experience.  Other people don’t have this special quality, and therefore are deemed unworthy to dictate what is valuable, important, and worthwhile.

But wait – isn’t everyone equal?  Doesn’t equality mean that everyone’s opinions count equally?  On the other hand, aren’t some people actually more qualified than others? Is elitism a good or bad thing?  This week’s topic is Pleasure Elitism.

Week 42 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Crisis

The word crisis brings to mind a dramatic, life-destroying situation.  Yet hindsight reveals that the situations we fear most are precisely the situations that bring out the best in our minds and/or bodies.  For example, an injured athlete outperforms his own expectations. Or surprisingly, the much-feared divorce that forces two people to come to terms with the past allows them to move forward into happiness with new dreams and lovers.

Is there a positive perspective from which we can choose to view dangerous and critical situations we encounter? Let’s rethink crisis.

Week 41 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Decisions

Do you suffer from analysis-paralysis? Trust me: there’s no PERFECT decision. What you need is to know what best motivates YOUR decisions, and what makes a good decision FOR YOU. Some people are satisfied by a choice motivated by their religious faith, others choose according to their personal values, and some people want to maximize probability of a desired outcome. What makes you choose option A over option B?

Week 38 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Promises

Promises are a big deal.  Really.  Can you imagine what society would be like without promises? We rely on others to do as they assure us that they will. How would human relationships, partnerships, and friendships function without promises? 

People have different ideas of what a promise is – what it means to promise, how a promise occurs, and what consequences to expect or dole out in response to a broken promise.  The foggy understanding of promises adds tension to relationships.  Improving your understanding of promises has the potential to transform and benefit your interpersonal relationships.  Let’s figure this out! Click to read more.

Week 37 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Trust

“He was confused.  He had never asked her to trust him or said anything to make her believe he was worth her trust.  And she knew his past – so what did she expect? She had trusted him – to do what, exactly?”

Do you know what it means to trust someone? What about trusting yourself?  Answer quickly, before philosophy gets in the way. You think you know, until you realize that you do not know at all what it means to trust and be trusted.

Click to visit this week’s post to learn about trust.
Plus, journal questions to help you understand how and why you trust!

Week 36 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Architecture

Because of rising housing costs and scarcity, renters are forced to make decisions based on criteria such as square footage and utility instead of artistic design and psychological effects. Buyers are apt to make decisions based on price speculation – a property that increases in value is the smart buy. However, despite not being at the forefront of importance, the architecture of the buildings we inhabit matters to us for its subtle effects on daily life.

Find out about how architecture transcends physical reality (!) and journal questions to reflect on your own home.

Week 34 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Democracy

Have you been following the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong?  Democracy is once again a hot topic in the news.  What is meant by the word ‘demoracy’?  Generally, when people refer to democracy they mean that the government represents the “will of the people”.  There are many ways that a government can be democratic and represent the will of the people, but no type of democracy is more famous than American-style democracy. For this week’s topic, we look at Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysberg Address – memorized by American schoolchildren every year – to understand the foundation of American-style democracy. 

Read more to find out and to consider some challenging questions for democracy!

Week 26 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Moral Status of Fetuses

Let’s start by recognizing that we all care about fetuses and believe they have some moral status. Whether you’re discussing this issue with someone is pro-choice, pro-life, or declares undecided, take it for granted that s/he doesn’t wish harm on a fetus. I mean, it’s safe to say that protesters who are pro-choice aren’t pro-death; they’re protesting for what they believe are women’s rights. There’s a difference – like protesting in favor of job creation isn’t the same as protesting in favor of fossil fuel usage, even if increased workforce participation not-indirectly results in increase fossil fuels usage.  The point: we all recognize that fetuses have a moral status but can’t agree on three things: first, when that moral status comes about, second, what that moral status should be called, and third, what rights it earns the fetus.

Visit the post for this week’s questions!

Week 25 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Personhood

Personhood is a topic that bears legal and moral consequences. You might have heard about it in discussions of immigration or abortion.  But even if those issues don’t relate to you personally, personhood is still an important topic for you.  Your security and status in society require an entrenched concept of personhood developed over hundreds of years.  Personhood relates to all rights, responsibilities, respect, citizenship, voting, and freedom.

The designation of personhood adds special significance to what would otherwise be regarded as a mere thing.  The personhood designation says: [pointing to someone] That thing is not merely an object, but is a person.  That means it requires special treatment and special ethical consideration – you can’t kill it and can’t treat it however you want, as you would a brick, or a computer, or a stuffed bear.

Week 24 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Fame

This week’s journal topic: Fame Being famous is a new career choice and a highly desirable one for Millennials and Gen Z.  Twenty years ago, if you asked an elementary school student what she wanted to be when she grew up, she might have named veterinarian, scientist, or doctor as dream careers.  The Barbie dolls of the 90’s reflect these choices.  If you asked a student of the same age nowadays, you might hear the answer, “Famous!”  Closely related are the “careers” of Instagrammer, vlogger, Youtuber, and Twitch star. Paris Hilton led the way of the tribe of women who are famous-for-being-famous.  Kim Kardashian followed a few years later and continues to reign as a pop-culture Queen.  And so-called “DJ” Khalid is known more for his social media presence than talent. Fame certainly has an appeal to our generation.  Even though it’s clear that fame is a much tougher game than beautiful Instagram profiles make it seem, the number of young people throwing their entire lives into the ring keeps increasing.  After the dust settles, …