All posts tagged: decision making

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

How do you decide? Do you understand your mental process of weighing options? What makes you choose option A over option B?  There are benefits to understanding your own decision-making process. Making conscious decisions is important to avoiding regret.  Understanding how you make decisions can streamline future decision-making.

Making decisions becomes less difficult when you understand how. This week’s journal topic is all about decisions.

Week 22 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Meat Eating

(This post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) Last week’s topic was fairly philosophical and abstract, so this week I’ll offer up something concrete and practical.   We make food choices and encounter other peoples’ fanaticism, so what could be more useful than discussing food and meat? Lifestyles of the Rich and the Blameless In third world countries, vegetarianism is widespread because meat is very expensive. As the world’s poor earn more money, they eat more meat. (Economist, May 4th 2019) Meanwhile in the first-world, meat is plentiful and inexpensive while whole foods and organic produce are expensive. As people become richer in the West, it becomes a badge of honor to eat less meat.  (Economist, October 13th 2018) (Nearly) Fifty Shades Vegetarianism – avoiding animal products except dairy and eggs Veganism – strictly avoiding all animal products (sometimes including honey) Meatatarianism – like Jordan Peterson’s daughter, who eats only beef! Pescatarianism – avoiding meats except fish Fruititarianism – eating only fruits   Animals: Meat? Or …

Week 21 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Objectivity & Subjectivity

(This post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) This week’s journal topic: Objectivity and Subjectivity These terms seem frighteningly philosophical, right?  What’s this? you ask. More stuffy classroom terms that serve scant purpose in everyday life?  Actually, the terms objectivity and subjectivity are used fairly regularly in intelligent conversation about politics, science, and ethics.  And if it’s not the specific terms that are invoked, the concepts behind them are nonetheless are. Objectivity Say you’re having an argument with someone who finishes his speech by saying, “I’m just reporting the objective facts – you have to accept that I’m right about this.”  What does he mean by objective facts and why does stating them provide evidence to support his view? Simply defined, objectivity is the characteristic which expresses the idea that a statement is free of perspectives, value judgments, or bias from personal interests.  To emphasize that a statement is an “objective fact” is to iterate to your listener that the statement is “faithful to the facts” …

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 …