All posts tagged: writing prompts

Week 29 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Tools

Humans are differentiated from other animals by our extensive use of tools.  Yes, other animals use tools, but the use is relatively rare, and the tools are basic.  What counts as a tool for an otter might just be the use of a rock to smash shellfish from their shells.  A rock and a jackhammer are hardly comparable, though.  Comparing basic animal tools to complex human tools is like comparing communicative animal cries to human language. Viewing the comparison that way, it’s clear that human tools are in a special category.

Human tools also have symbolic meaning. What is a dream catcher, a magic wand, or a ghost trap?

Keep reading to find out what makes human tool use special and what your attachment to tools says about you!

Week 28 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Art

You love the arts and want your government to spend more on grants and public art, right? Well, even if you don’t, there are many good reasons for devoting effort and resources to the arts, such as cultural development, social activism and community engagement, and childhood education.  The artists themselves insist that art is good for us as human beings.

But there are plenty of reasons to reject funding the arts, too.  Top of the list: it costs a lot of money, it “does nothing”, and we can’t even agree on what counts as art.  The alternative is to spend money on things that give us utility – we can all agree on what’s useful to society.  In contrast, words probably never said about art: “That’s really useful.”

Let’s explore the Top 5 reasons to reject art as a concept and as a recipient of funding!

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 23 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Race & Race Skepticism

(This post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) This week’s topic:  Race & Race Skepticism This week’s topic is contentious and avoided in polite conversation. However, the topic arises in political and social dimensions of life.  For example, affirmative action is sometimes a legal requirement in the United States with respect to promotions or admissions criteria.  In Canada, race is sometimes a requirement for prospective adoptive parents or for access to social programs. Despite the frequent appearance of the concept of race in politics and society, most people avoid speaking plainly and openly about it for fear of offending someone.  Definitions are left to academics who nurture their thoughts while hidden in the safety of ivory towers.  And since the rest of us are not openly speaking about it, there is little motivation to think deeply about it.  If (quite shockingly) the topic arises, it’s polite to say, “I don’t have an opinion.”  But that’s not honest with yourself, nor is it conducive to thinking …

Week 19 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Names

(This post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!)  This week the questions are a break from the previous week’s heavy questions!  You can even use these questions as conversation starters. Enjoy! This Week’s Journal Topic: Names Romeo doesn’t care the Juliet’s surname is his enemy’s surname; to Romeo she’ll always be the same enchanting woman, even if her name was something else.  A name, in other words, means nothing.  But is a name really just an arbitrary thing, or does it affect our personality and future?  If names are unimportant, why do parents agonize over choosing the perfect name? Parents name their children’s given names with various purposes in mind. Unique reference. Some parents are concerned about originality of the name and want the name and spelling, in combination with the last name, to be a one-of-a-kind feature. E.g. Abcde, Mykenzee, J-a (Jadasha), etc. Meaning.  Some parents want a name to carry meaning and/or give the child a certain strength or quality.  Biblical and religious names remind …

Week 14 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Cheating

(This blog is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project.  Start here!) This Week’s Journal Topic: Cheating You might think that cheating is purely a character flaw or a lack of virtue. This isn’t the case.  Cheating is partially a social phenomenon because it depends on our social expectations, interactions, and observations of others.  Studies show that people are more likely to cheat if they believe that others are cheating, too.  The rub: expect others to cheat, and you might, too. Do Values Make Us Immune? Studies on college students reveal that students who think that others have cheated will also cheat, even if they believe cheating is wrong.  The studies run the following scenario:  a class of students is given a test to work on.  Several of the “students” are actually actors who display obvious signs of cheating.  The actors complete the hour long test within several minutes and leave the classroom.  The result is that the real students, after witnessing the cheating, one-by-one begin to cheat, …