Tag Archives: thought

I’m At a Loss

I’ve been finding it difficult to come up with ideas for blog posts, which is why this blog hasn’t been very active lately. As such, I’d like to leave it up to the readers: what would you like us to write about? Would you like to know something specific about our atheism? Do you have an argument that you’d like us to address? Would you like us to discuss a particular book? Do you have any questions about Philosophy, Biology, or History? Would you like to know our stance on a particular feminist issue? Is there something else you’d like us to write on? Let us know in the comment section.

What Is The Good Life?

In one of my classes today, we discussed the idea of “the good life.” The definition of the good life that we were given is “a life that is (sufficiently) intrinsically good for the person whose life it is.” That is, of course, only one definition of what the good life is. But what does that definition mean?

In class we talked about different types of good lives. There is the morally good life where the person lives a life within a set of moral guidelines, there is the instrumentally good life where the person’s life as a means to some further end, there is the aesthetically good life where a person lives a life of comfort and beauty, and there is the religiously good life where the person leads a life where they have followed the guidelines of their religious belief. There are many other types of good lives, but these are some of the main types. However, “the good life” is not the same as any of those good lives “the good life” is more of a prudentially good life, or a “good for me” good life.

One thought on the good life that we looked at stated that “the intrinsic value of a life no matter whose life it is derives elusively from the intrinsic values of the satisfaction (accomplishment) and frustration (inability to achieve) of a desire.” Basically, intrinsic value comes from whether or not you accomplished your desire. My professor made two good points about this idea. The first is that this thought implies that the number of desires you accomplish determine how good your life is, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. It seems as though people can lead better lives having accomplished less desires simply by being more ambitious. The second idea is that actual desires may be accomplished, but they may not be satisfactory. For example, someone may desire to join the army because they have dreams of being a hero, but then they join and realize that they don’t enjoy working within the strict hierarchy of the military. They accomplished their desire, but they weren’t satisfied by it. Instead, it seems as though we should look at theoretical desires, or the desires that a person would have if they had all the information and were rational. Basically, the facts are what makes accomplishing the satisfaction good, not the desire.

The idea in this class is that “the good life” is somehow objective. Not in the sense that there is one set of things that is good for everyone, but in the sense that, while the details may change, there is a definition of “the good life” that applies to everyone. It is possible to look at a person’s life and say “they led a good life” or “they led a bad life.” And people can be wrong about whether or not their life was a good one.

I’m not yet sure how much of this I actually agree with, but I thought it was worth sharing. Part of me agrees that there is some way to judge whether another person’s life was good, but I’m also not so comfortable about the concept of telling someone that their life was terrible when they say that their life was good. I suppose I’d prefer to look at it in degrees. If a person says their life was good, but they were abused and neglected, I’m not going to agree with them. But if a person says their life was good but they complained a lot about their job and regretted never traveling, I’m not going to disagree.

What are your thoughts about “the good life”? Does it exist? Is the given definition a useful one?

Why I Haven’t Lost “Faith” With Humanity

I keep reading about how bad everything is. And how the world is going to hell in a hand basket. Part of me is inclined to agree, but most of me wonders what they’re seeing that I’m missing. To me, the world looks pretty good. So I’ve decided to write a post about why I haven’t lost “faith” with humanity.

Before I go on, I should address the quotations around the word “faith.” This version of the word faith is not the same as the word used in religious contexts. This is merely an easier way of saying “I believe that humans are mostly good.” And I am now going to provide my evidence to support my belief.

A lot has been happening lately that is absolutely terrible. Watching the news paints a terrifying picture of the world. First there is the issues in Ukraine. Many people have suggested that this conflict is the beginning of the third world war, or a new cold war. And now Russia has actually began invading Ukraine. But in World War 2 Hitler’s army wasn’t met with immediate resistance. The allies tried to appease the Germans, letting them take territory and imprison people, before they threatened military action. Russia had barely started agressing before the protests started. People and governments a like are angry at Russia now. The US would be stupid to actually start a war with Russia, but many countries have started boycotting Russia. This will hurt Russia a lot more than I think many people realize, because Russia depends quite a bit on trading. Their economy would be hurt greatly if they lost trading partners. People are looking for peaceful solutions to the Ukraine problem and I think they will be successful. The Russian invasion is half-hearted at best, and they don’t seem to actually know what they are doing.

The US is another interesting case. Earlier this year, a number of states legalized same-sex marriage. This is great news. The US is far behind many other industrialized nations when it comes to this issue, but they are starting to catch up. It is becoming less okay to discriminate against the LGBT community. More people are willing to stand up and say enough is enough. For example, a video recently went viral of a young adult being disowned for being gay. His parents verbally and physically attacked him. Horrible things like this are, unfortunately, not uncommon. But they are becoming less common. And people are coming together more and more to support the victims of such abuse. The young man mentioned earlier has had $50,000 raised in his name so that he could survive during his first year. He will, hopefully, be able to keep his life from completely falling apart, which is what happens in most cases. He won’t have to live on the street. These actions make it easy to see the good in people, even when others make it so easy to see the bad.

Like Ferguson. There is so much wrong with what happened there. It seems as though the US is becoming a police state. Those things: police beating and killing unarmed people, police suppressing even peaceful rallies with undue force, has become increasingly common in the US. Part of me screams “why aren’t you people doing anything?” at the American populous. It seems so odd that there aren’t more people fighting back against the brutality. But, at the same time, people are crying out. There are more and more videos out there showing police brutality. The people of Ferguson did stand up in protest. And people all over the world are starting to pay attention. Not just to the police brutality, but to the racism that it stems from. People are speaking out against it. Sure, it’s not perfect. But it’s a start. And if people keep pushing, eventually those in charge will start to realize that they won’t get away with such abuse anymore. Changes will start to occur.

Of course the world is not perfect. It never will be. There will always be people who discriminate against others for one reason or another. But I look at history and compare it to how things are now and I see improvement. People are coming together more and more to support people they will never even meet. People care less about whether or not the person is family, and they care more and more that the person is human. We really are becoming a global community. I think this is wonderful. I’m glad that it is becoming less okay to discriminate. And I’m glad that people will stand up against abuses happening half a world away. Because 50 years ago that wouldn’t have happened. People may never even have heard of the abuse. Or they may have and simply ignored it because the people weren’t their people. So no, I haven’t lost my “faith” in humanity.

What Does “Happy Holiday” Mean?

I was watching the preview for yet another Kirk Cameron “documentary,” and in it he made some comment about people saying “happy holiday” instead of “merry Christmas.” He then said “whatever that means.” Does he really not know what “holiday” means?

It doesn’t seem as though very many people do know what it means, because this debate happens every September through to December. People complain that Christ is being taken out of Christmas, and you should say “merry Christmas” instead of “happy holiday” or vice versa. It seems to me that people are just looking for an excuse to be mad. But it’s silly.

So let’s look at what “happy holiday” means. What is a holiday? That’s easy: it’s a holy day. So how, exactly, is saying “happy holiday” secular? Sure, it’s not merely recognizing one religion, but so what? We’re talking about western countries with a lot of different religions. Many of which celebrate holy days in December. So if someone says “happy holiday” to you, they are in fact recognizing the day as holy. They are just not assuming you celebrate one holiday over another.

“Merry Christmas,” however, ignores all but one of the many holidays. So, for those of you demanding that everybody say “merry Christmas,” are you really so selfish that you demand that everybody should pay deference to your holy day while ignoring the millions who do not celebrate your it? Why can’t you be happy with the acknowledgement that your day is in fact recognized as holy?

Personally, I grew tired of this issue long ago. None of the holidays are holy to me, and I certainly don’t recognize Christ in Christmas. I don’t need people demanding that I pay them any special heed. That’s why, when I was still working retail, I stopped saying anything about the season. Nobody complains if you just say “have a good day,” even on December 24. I did that for about 4 years and never got so much as a funny look. So if “have a good day” is acceptable, what’s wrong with “happy holiday”? And what exactly is all the fuss about?

Can We Understand Different Belief Systems?

I have been pondering a question today and I wanted to put it out to all of you: Can you truly understand someone who doesn’t believe what you believe if you’ve never shared that belief? Can you even if you have shared that belief?

I ask this because of the difference between empathy and sympathy. If, say, someone loses a parent, and you have also lost a parent, you can empathize with them. You’ve gone through what they’re going through. You have a common understanding as a result. But if you’ve never lost a parent you can’t empathize with them. You can sympathize, but you can’t empathize. Sympathy is to feel bad for them or their situation, or you can offer some level of emotional support. So, if you can sympathize, if you know that what happened is bad but you’ve never dealt with it, can you truly understand what the person is going though? Can sympathy create understanding?

Tomboy and Gender Non-Conformity

I recently watched the French film Tomboy. If you’ve never seen it, I would highly recommend it as it is about a gender non-conforming child trying to navigate life.

It has gotten me thinking about how parents react to their children when they don’t conform to stereotypical gender roles. The mom in Tomboy annoys me. She is fairly accepting of her child, Laure, but she seems to make no attempt to understand Laure. Laure is biologically female, but lies to some new friends and claims to be male. When Laure’s mother finds out, she makes Laure wear a dress and tells everybody that Laure is a girl. There are a few things that disturb me about this. The first is that she never tries to ask Laure why Laure lied. If my child lied about some aspect of themself, I’d want to know why. After all, most people are proud to call themselves what ever gender they were labeled as at birth. Second, what if Laure isn’t a girl? The mother didn’t try to figure out if Laure felt more like a boy than a girl. She could have done serious psychological damage to her child by forcing Laure to be someone that they aren’t. And finally, Laure’s mother never explained anything to Laure. Just dragged the kid around trying to fix everything herself. How is Laure supposed to learn anything if nobody explains the moral implications of Laure’s actions? And how is Laure supposed to learn to solve their own problems if they are always fixed for them? Isn’t that one of the most important things for children to learn?

All of that got me thinking about what I’d do if I had a gender non-conforming child. Since I myself am gender non-conforming, I would be thrilled if my child was the same. However, I’m also worried about what that would mean for my child. But, if I do find myself in that position, I want to let my child lead. They are the ones who have to decide what their gender is. They have to navigate the world as a gender non-conforming individual. I can guide them. I can let them know what their options are. But I can’t tell them who they are. I can’t force them to be someone they aren’t. As such, our children will wear gender neutral clothes until they’re old enough to tell us what they want to wear. If the look silly, who cares? They’re kids. As long as they’re happy, that’s what matters. I will never force any of my kids into a dress. And if they lie about their gender, we’ll talk about it. And it will be up to them t tell the truth. After all, who am I to say they are actually lying?

There are so many examples of parents raising gender non-conforming children. So many of them do wonderful jobs, but they get so much criticism from people who have no way of understanding their situation. I hope that one day gender non-conforming children will be accepted as normal. But, in the meantime, I idolize the parents who raise this children with so much love and acceptance.

If your child was gender non-conforming, how would you react? How would you deal with a situation like the one in Tomboy?

Here is a link to a poem that I think does a great job of describing what it’s like to be gender non-conforming: http://stonetelling.com/issue5-sep2011/lipkin-changeling.html

%d bloggers like this: